This is one of my all-time favorite loaf cakes (aka tea bread) that I first discovered at Tartine Bakery in LA. It is dense, moist, tender, and delicious; it’s often sold out at the bakery which is not surprising because it’s just so good! Acclaimed pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and master baker Chad Robertson shared this recipe in their 2006 cookbook Tartine. I love the look of quick breads that are baked in a square shaped pullman loaf pan, but you can also bake this recipe in a traditional 9x5 pan or in a small Bundt ban.
One note: You may be tempted to skip the last step of glazing the entire, warm cake in a citrus syrup – but don’t give in to temptation. This step is an important aspect of the cake’s perfection. It seals in the moisture and adds a tart citrus note to the rich, almond-flavored cake. It takes 3-5 minutes and is more than worth every second of your time.
1 Large loaf, at least 8-10 servings
For the Cake:
¾ cup (95 gram) cake flour or all-purpose flour (cake flour preferred)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 Large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) almond paste, at room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces/225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons (20 grams) poppy seeds
For the Citrus Glaze:
3 tbsp/45 ml Lemon juice
3 tbsp/45 ml Orange juice
3/4 cup/150 grams Sugar
Powdered sugar to coat, optional
For the Cake:
1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF/175ºC.
2. Butter and flour an 9x5 loaf pan, or 9x4 small pullman loaf pan (if you like square shape)
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt – twice, set aside.
4. In a 4 cup Pyrex or small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together until just combined, set aside.
5. Pinch of pieces of the soft almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (some recipes suggest grating it on a box grater into the bowl, I did not).
6.With mixer on low speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream, beating until incorporated. Don’t go too quickly – you want this mixture to continue to break up in the bowl.
7. On low speed, slowly add the butter one piece at a time until all of the butter is incorporated (important that the butter is soft room temperature) Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula before continuing.
8. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
9. With the mixture still on medium, add the eggs in a very slow, steady stream and mix until incorporated. Again, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn on the mixer one last time and mix for another 30 seconds.
10. Add the citrus zest and poppy seeds; mixing in with a wooden spoon.
11. Lastly, add the flour mixture in 2 batches. Stirring just until incorporated. Then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula if you have one.
12. Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and a cake tester comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for roughly 5-6 minutes while you make the glaze.
For the Glaze:
It is important to make the glaze while the cake is resting and not before – so wait to do this step.
1. After the cake comes out of the oven, mix the juices with the sugar to dissolve the sugar, about 1-2 minutes.
2. Invert the cake onto a wire rack placed over a baking sheet or wax paper (to catch any spills)
3. Slowly brush the entire warm cake with the glaze, giving it a chance to soak before adding more glaze, until the entire mixture has been brushed onto loaf.
4. Let it cool completely on the rack. Do not try to move it until completely cool because the cake is too fragile while it is warm. For added beauty and sweetness, dust the entire top with a coat of powdered sugar before serving.
5. This cake will keep well-wrapped for a week in the refrigerator and improves with age as the flavors mature and settle.