Almond Cake with Citrus Marmalade

Last weekend Ryan and I went out with some friends for late night drinks, appetizers and dessert at City House. (I make us sound super cool and trendy, but truthfully, this is not how we spend our typical Saturday nights...although after Saturday night's festivities, we have vowed to change that, promise). Ryan and I hadn't been to City House yet, but our friends have talked it up quite a bit so we thought it was about time we check it out. One of the appetizers we split was called Frico, which we decided is just whatever leftover veggies (or fruit) they have in the kitchen, smothered in cheese. Last week, it was sweet potatoes and chilies with melted buttermilk cheddar. And I have to say it was damn good. Let's be honest though, anything tastes good when smothered in cheese, agreed?

After a few drinks and appetizers, we deemed it necessary to order a few desserts to split. They were all freaking amazing, but my personal favorite was the almond ricotta pound cake served with a lemon marmalade and a lemon ricotta gelato. Wow, that's a lot of lemon in one sentence. The pound cake was toasted just a bit, which is genius because it tricks you into thinking you're eating something light, like breakfast toast perhaps, instead of a cake made of I'd-rather-not-know-how-many egg yolks.   

Ever since we went to City House, I've been dreaming of that almond pound cake. So this weekend I decided to whip up a version of my own to satisfy my cravings. I was torn between a recipe for a true pound cake and a recipe I stumbled upon in Cook's Illustrated that kept the almond flavor, but sans the ridiculous amount of butter and egg yolks. I decided to try the latter, since I wanted something less dense than pound cake. I absolutely love how this cake turned out! It's fluffy and light but still gives you a rich almond taste. Added bonus: since this cake is super light, you can totally justify eating it for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. I'd call that a win. 

Citrus Marmalade 
Adapted from Bon Appetit (makes 1 quart)

3 blood oranges + 2 lemons (about 1 ½ lbs)
4 ½ c sugar
¼ c fresh lemon juice
¼ c Campari or Rum (optional)

Cut peel and pith away from the oranges and lemons. Slice the peel very thinly into strips and place in a large bowl or container. Slice fruit into rounds and add to sliced peel. Cover fruit with 2 quarts water and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours (this helps soften the peel).

Wash (and sterilize, if you plan to can the marmalade) four 8 oz. jars and set aside.

When you’re ready to make the marmalade, transfer the fruit mixture to a dutch oven (or a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot). Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until the peels are softened, and water is reduced by 3/4, about 1 1/2 hours.

Add sugar and stir to incorporate. Continue to cook until the mixture has thickened (at this point you’ll notice the bubbles will dissipate and the mixture will become foamy), another 30–40 minutes.

Test the marmalade by spooning a small amount onto a chilled plate and see how it sets up. It should start to gel within 5 minutes. If it doesn’t, keep simmering, testing every 10 minutes until it passes the test. Once your marmalade is ready, remove from heat and add the lemon juice and liquor (if using) stirring to incorporate.

Divide evenly among jars, and process if desired. Unprocessed marmalade will keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Almond Cake
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 1/2 c plus 1/3 c blanched sliced almonds, toasted
3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
1 1/4
 c plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
tsp almond extract
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c vegetable oil

Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Grease a 9-in round cake pan or spring-form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Pulse 1 ½ c almonds, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (5-10 pulses should do it). Transfer the almond mixture to a bowl.

In the now empty food processor, next process the eggs, 1 ¼ c sugar, 1 tbsp lemon zest, and almond extract until the mixture is pale yellow, about 2 minutes. With the food processor running, add the melted butter and oil in a steady stream, until incorporated. Now add the almond mixture and pulse to combine (4 to 5 pulses). Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.

Using your fingers, combine the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and remaining ½ tsp of lemon zest in a small bowl until fragrant (just a few seconds). Sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with the remaining 1/3 c almonds and then the sugar-zest mixture.

Bake until the center of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes, rotating the pan after 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a greased wire rack or cookie sheet, discard the parchment, and reinvert the cake onto another wire rack. Let the cake cool, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with citrus marmalade. (The cake will keep at room temp in plastic wrap for up to 3 days).