As a rule, when a recipe calls for toasted nuts, it really is non-negotiable. Toasting intensifies their nutty flavor and whether the nuts are whole, sliced or slivered, you can taste the difference!
If I only needed a small amount to sprinkle on a salad or use as a garnish, I would toast them in a dry skillet on top of the stove. But, toasting the nuts on a baking sheet in the oven makes more sense for the amount needed in certain recipes, such as cranberry & toasted walnut scones, hummingbird cake and bittersweet chocolate blood orange biscotti .
The crunchy topping of almonds and sugar adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this rustic Italian cake. It is made with extra-virgin olive oil rather than butter, is moist and stays fresh for several days (out of the refrigerator), making it an excellent choice for a road trip.
- 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, plus 1/3 cup, toasted
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Delicate), plus a bit for greasing the pan
- Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and evenly spread out all of the almonds in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 350* oven on the middle rack until toasted (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, oil the bottom of a 9-inch round baking pan and line with parchment paper.
- Using a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups of sliced almonds with the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda until the almonds are finely ground. Empty into a bowl and set aside.
- Add the eggs, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts to the processor. Process about 2 1/2 minutes. The mixture should be a pale yellow. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while the processor is running until the oil is completely incorporated.
- Take half of the ground almond mixture and add to the food processor. Pulse until combined and then add the other half and pulse again. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest with a fork (or your fingers).
- Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup of sliced almonds evenly over the top of the cake and then sprinkle on the lemon-sugar.
- Bake at 350* on the middle rack for approximately 55 minutes.