Lemon Almond Torta


Serves: 8

For the lemon curd:
3/4 (150g) cup sugar
3 large eggs
juice and grated zest from 2 large lemons
4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the torta:
2/3 cup (60g) sliced almonds
1/2 cup (75g) blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
icing/confectioner’s sugar, for dusting cake

To make the lemon curd: In a non-corrosive heavy saucepan, combine sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Add the butter. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Don't let it boil! Transfer the curd to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the torta: Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (27cm) round springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of baking parchment. Gently press about half of the sliced almonds against the side of the pan, adhering them about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom.

In a food processor combine the whole toasted almonds, flour, baking powder and salt. Process for 10-20 seconds, until finely chopped. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork until frothy.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer at low speed, beat the butter for 30 seconds, until creamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes, until light in texture and almost white in color. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond/flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended (the batter will be stiff). Stir in the beaten eggs just until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with the back of a spoon. Spoon 8 tablespoons of the lemon curd in an evenly-spaced ring around the top of the cake batter, about a 1/2-inch in from the side of the pan. Spoon 3 tablespoons evenly spaced into the center of the ring (it will all melt together into an even layer in the oven, but if you don't want to bother counting just dollop the curd evenly all over the top). Sprinkle the remaining sliced almonds over the top of the batter. Lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Bake the torta for 25-35 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool the torta completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the torta to loosen it from the side of the pan before removing. Peel off the baking paper and dust the torta with more confectioners’ sugar before serving. Eat at room temperature.

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