Makes one 8-inch round or enough to serve 12
Mariuccia’s recipe is, Bartali says, a secret. If you don’t like candied fruits, you can use candied orange rind or a mix of chopped dried fruit, such as apricots, cherries, cranberries, and figs. To make a variation, substitute whole toasted hazelnuts for half the almonds.
|Butter (for the pan)|
|2||cups whole almonds|
|1¾||cups diced mixed candied fruits or dried fruits|
|¼||teaspoon ground cloves|
|¼||teaspoon ground nutmeg|
|⅛||teaspoon ground black or white pepper|
|½||cup granulated sugar|
|¼||cup confectioners’ sugar|
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit it and butter the paper.
2. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, turning often, until they are aromatic and starting to brown; cool.
3. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.
4. In a large bowl, combine the candied or dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, pepper, and flour. Stir with a wooden spoon. Roughly chop half the almonds and add the chopped and whole almonds to the mixture. Stir thoroughly.
5. In a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together the granulated sugar and honey until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture until it reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer (hard-ball stage). Immediately poor the syrup into the dry ingredients; stir well.
6. Transfer the batter to the pan. Lightly dampen your hands and press the mixture evenly and firmly into the pan. The cake should be about 1 inch thick.
7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake will seem underdone at this point, but it will harden as it cools. Cool completely in the pan. Invert onto a platter, peel off the parchment paper, then place right-side up.
8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Lise Stern. Adapted from “The Il Fornaio Baking Book”