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Extravagant Almond Cake

1/2 pound almond paste
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
5 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extraxt
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 pound additional almond paste (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan or a
9-inch springform pan (note: or 2 loaf pans, for tea cake servings).

Combine the almond paste and sugar in a food processor and work
until well blended. Add the butter and continue to process until
blended; then add the eggs, one at a time, the sour cream, and the
flavorings. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.

Sift flour with baking powder, soda, and salt. Add it to the batter
a third at a time, gently stirring in each cupful. For the
extravagant touch, break another 1/2 pound or less almond paste
into pieces and fold them into the batter. Turn the batter into
the baking pan and bake the cake in the middle of the oven until
the cake is golden on top and springy to the touch, about 1 hour
(Note: I find that I have to bake the cake for about an hour and
twenty minutes or more to have a bamboo skewer come out clean.)
Remove the cake from the oven and let is stand to cool slightly;
then turn it out onto a serving plate. When cool, dust it with
sifted powdered sugar. This cake will keep well, wrapped tightly,
for several days.

Variation: Almond Pear Cake. Peel, seed, and lightly puree about
5 Bartlett pear. Or, drain and lightly puree a can (approx 1 lb)
of pears. Heat puree with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in a saucepan over
medium heat until most of the liquid is reduced and puree resembles
a thick applesauce. Should measure about 1 1/2 cups. Increase to
10-inch springform pan. Stir into almond mixture before addition
of flour. Increase flour by 1/2-3/4 cup.

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