Eat like a president with this delicious dessert recipe from The Perfect Finish (Norton), a new cookbook by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yossas. In her review, Sybil Pratt says that each of these desserts "deserves your full attention" and I think you'll agree once you read the following. Bon appetit!

Soft Almond Cake with Fresh Raspberries

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake to serve 8

An adaptation of the tender, very buttery little almond flour cakes called financiers, this is a dessert I learned to make while working at Au Vieux Four, an old wood-fired bakery in Tours, France. The owner, a ninth-generation baker named Jacques Mahou, who mentored me, primarily made bread, but he had a little sideline of super desserts, including this one. It’s very much the type of straightforward, quickly mixed dessert a French bread maker bakes along with the bread. Before serving, it is garnished with fresh fruit, which makes this very transportable dessert colorful and light at any time of year. Replace the raspberries used here with seasonal fruits in the spring, summer, and fall, or with imported tropical fruits in the winter.

Chef’s Note: It’s always a good idea to bring materials for touch-ups, such as extra confectioners’ sugar to sprinkle over a travel-worn cake such as this one.

Special Equipment: Food processor (if using ground almonds), ?9-inch springform pan, cake tester, sifter


  • 2 cups almond flour (see Sources, page 275), or finely ground blanched almonds (7.4 ounces, 214 grams)

  • 1½ ?cups cake flour (6 ounces, 180 grams)

  • 1 ?teaspoon baking powder ?(5 grams)

  • 6 large eggs (10.2 ounces, 289 grams), at room temperature

  • ¾ cup medium-flavored honey such as orange blossom or clover (9 ounces, 255 grams)

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (5.25 ounces, 150 grams)

  • ½ ?cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-milk plain yogurt or crème fraîche (5 ounces, 142 grams)

  • ½ ?pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (8 ounces, 227 grams)

  • ¼ ?cup raspberry jam (2.6 ounces, 75 grams)

  • 2 pints fresh raspberries (9 ounces, 255 grams)

  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour or ground almonds, cake flour, and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, granulated sugar, and yogurt or crème fraîche until just combined. While whisking, to the egg mixture add one-third of the butter and one-third of the flour mixture. Repeat twice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the moist ingredients are fully absorbed by the flour, firming up the batter. (This batter will keep well in a tightly covered bowl in the refrigerator, for up to 7 days. If desired, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month.)

  2. The next day, or when you are ready to bake the cake, position a rack in the center of the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter the 9-inch springform pan. Scrape the thickened batter into the pan. Bake on the center rack until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

  3. Place the cake on a rack and let cool completely in the pan (for at least 1 hour), then remove the sides of the pan, slide the cake onto a serving platter, then carefully remove the bottom of the pan. Just before serving, spread the raspberry jam over the top of the cake and cover the surface with upright fresh raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top.

Reprinted from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yossas (c) 2010. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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