A classic cake with the added bonus of a cream cheese center. This cake was very dense but very flavorful thanks to the almond and lemon. The crunch on top was a nice complement to the creamy cheese center. Definitely something good to bring to a brunch or for Sunday breakfast. I brought it to my Aunt Linda’s this past weekend and everyone really enjoyed it.
Ingredients (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
1/4 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 c slice almonds
2-1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/8 tsp baking powder
1-1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 c plus 7 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest plus 4 tsp juice from 1 to 2 lemons
4 large eggs
5 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 c sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1. For the topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.
2. For the cake: Spry 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, and lemon est at medium speed till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrap down sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 4 tsp vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, missing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remain flour.
3. Reserve 1-1/4 cup batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, 5 Tbsp sugar, lemon juice, and 4 tsp vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful to not drag filling bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 -3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon-sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.
4. Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (IMPORTANT: skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 -50 minutes. Remove from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 -3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet; remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake and invert cake sugar-side up. Coll to room temperature, about 1-1/2 hours.
NOTE: Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers, covered tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.