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Tried & Tested: Jacques Pépin's Almond Cake

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's raining buckets as I write this. I don't think it has stopped raining since yesterday evening. I had wanted to come home after work yesterday and make a cake using almond paste, but traffic had been so bad, I actually had to turn round and go back to the office. When I left two hours later, it still took me 50 minutes to get home on a drive that usually takes 15 minutes. Too late to make the cake.

The recipe is for an Almond Cake With Berries, from Jacques Pépin. It is easily whizzed up in a food processor, but even by hand, it doesn't look like it should take much effort.

I am a big fan of Monsieur Pépin and loved watching him when his cooking show was on TV. He's such a great teacher and makes every dish uncomplicated. No need to be intimidated by French food when Jacques Pépin shows you how to cook it. I  have none of his recipe books but I do have his autobiography, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, which has a few recipes in it.

When I got some almond paste recently, I looked up some cake recipes and saw this one by Pépin. He uses fresh berries to garnish the cake, but he also suggests dried fruit like currants, peaches and apricots. Fresh berries are so expensive over here and I can't think of any local fresh fruit that would be suitable, so I went with the dried and even managed to find dried peaches and apricots. I also added currants and crystallized pineapple. Dice them so that they are the same size as the currants. They may not look as pretty as fresh fruit, but I think they work just as well.

I also had a little bottle of cognac that someone gave me and that came in handy for this recipe. I think the original recipe makes too much syrup for such a small cake, and instead of adding all water to dilute the apricot jam, I used the leftover syrup for that. This cake has one boozy garnish!

I changed the recipe slightly so if you want the original, please go to the link given above.

Individual serving
From a recipe by Jacques Pépin
Serves 6-8
115g almond paste
¾ cup sugar
110g unsalted butter + extra to butter the cake pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium free-range eggs
¼ cup milk
Dash of salt
1 cup cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons whiskey, rum or cognac
2 tablespoons sugar

1½ cups diced dried fruit (currants, peaches, apricots, pineapple)
¼ cup good apricot jam, diluted with 2 tablespoons water
8-10 mint leaves
1 cup Greek yoghurt for serving
  • Butter a 17cm round cake pan (5cm deep) and line the base with greaseproof paper. Heat the oven to 180°C. 
  • Put the almond paste, sugar, butter and vanilla in a food processor and process for about 10 seconds. Add the eggs, milk, and salt and process for 5 seconds. Add the flour and the baking powder and process for another 5 to 10 seconds, or until smooth. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  • At serving time, place the cake on a serving platter. 
  • Combine the ingredients for the syrup in a small bowl. Using a spoon or pastry brush, moisten the cake with the syrup. Scatter the dried fruit on top of the cake. Brush on the diluted apricot jam and garnish with the mint leaves. Serve with the Greek yoghurt.


  1. Looks delicious! May I know where did you get your almond paste?

  2. Hi Jeannie, I got this almond paste from Chang Thung in Taman Megah. I really like the taste. But I am going to try to make my own next time - there are many recipes online and they don't look very complicated.


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