Bomba di Mandorle alla Veneziana

Venetian Almond Cake

Venetian recipes for almond cakes would fill a not-too-little book: Every family, every pastry shop appears to have a version of its own. This one is among the least common. Its appearance is supposed to suggest a halved cannonball bristling with almond and citron “shrapnel”—hence the name bomba. The batter, in addition to almonds, citron, and raisins, features the quickening presence of the grated peel of an entire lemon.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup seedless raisins, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup shelled, unpeeled almonds, blanched and peeled
  • 3 ounces candied citron diced very small
  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature, plus additional butter for smearing the baking sheet
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1⅔ cups flour
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon (outer skin with none of the white pith beneath)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ounce fresh cake yeast, or 1 package active dry yeast
  • Salt

Method

  1. Drop the almonds into boiling water. Remove them after about 1½ minutes, draining them well. Put the almonds on a damp cloth towel, close the towel over them, and rub the almonds vigorously with the towel. The friction will remove the skin from all or most of them. If any almonds are left with the skin still on, squeeze it off with your fingers. Pat the skinned almonds dry with a fresh towel.
  2. Put half the peeled almonds and half the citron in a food processor and process until ground very fine, or chop by hand.
  3. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, and mix with a wooden spoon until the butter becomes creamy.
  4. Add 1 whole egg and the yolk of the other egg, reserving its white for later. Continue to mix until well amalgamated with the butter.
  5. Add the flour, mixing it in thoroughly a little at a time.
  6. Add the grated lemon peel, mixing well to distribute it uniformly.
  7. Warm the milk slightly until it is just lukewarm, then dissolve the yeast in it. When the yeast begins to bubble, add the milk to the bowl together with the chopped almonds and citron, mixing them in evenly.
  8. Drain the raisins, squeeze as much liquid as possible out of them, dust them very lightly with flour, and add them to the batter in the bowl, together with a pinch of salt, mixing them in uniformly.
  9. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and place in a warm corner of the kitchen to let the batter rise for about 1 hour.
  10. Turn on the oven to 375°.
  11. Chop the remaining almonds into coarse pieces.
  12. Smear the bottom of a baking sheet with butter.
  13. Rework the batter for a minute or two, using the wooden spoon. Shape it into a ball with your hands—you will find it a bit sticky—and place it on the baking sheet. Smooth the surface of the ball as well as you can with a moistened spatula.
  14. Beat the remaining egg white lightly and brush it over the surface of the ball.
  15. Stud the ball with the cut-up almonds and the remaining diced citron, distributing them over the entire exposed surface and pressing them in firmly.
  16. Place the baking sheet in the middle level of the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Test the cake by probing with a long thin skewer. If it comes out dry, the cake is done.
  17. Remove from the baking sheet and transfer to a cooling rack.

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