Food, Recipe

almond vanilla pound cake

Almond is a flavor missing from mainstream American desserts. In Scandinavia, I fell in love with the taste of almond, especially in baking. In cakes, Scandinavians use marzipan (almond paste) like one would fondant–covering a cake for a smooth outer layer. Marzipan is baked into the center of croissants, drizzled with chocolate, sandwiched with creme. It’s a popular candy at Christmas time, when my host mother rolled thin tubes of marzipan filled with raisins, wine-soaked nuts, and chocolate, slicing them into bite-size pieces.

When I cleaned¬†the house I will live in for the rest of this summer, I found a single vanilla bean tucked inside an unmarked jar. I wanted to bake with it (vanilla beans produce a flavor unmatched by extract) and knew immediately what I would include–almond. We didn’t have any marzipan, but I found almond extract. I that thought a poundcake, simple and buttery, would best show off the flavor. Drizzled with a glaze as soon as it comes out of the oven, it has a crispy crust and beautiful pale yellow color, flecked with vanilla.

Almond Vanilla Pound Cake

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.)


1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks butter

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

seeds from 1 vanilla bean


1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

4-5 tablespoons milk

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf pan with butter/cooking spray and flour.¬†With a whisk, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a mixer, beat egg whites until they form hard peaks. Beat in 1/2 cup of sugar a little at a time. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside. With the mixer, cream butter and add remaining sugar (1/4 + 2 tbsp). When the butter and sugar is well combined, add yolks one at a time, followed by the almond extract and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to over mix. Finally, fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. It will be done when a toothpick comes out clean, but be sure to err on the side of moist (avoid dry poundcake!) While the cake is baking, combine glaze ingredients in a bowl. If needed, add more milk to get desired consistency. Once the cake is out of the oven, immediately pour glaze on top and drain any excess. Let cool for 10 minutes, and you’re ready to go!