We found this recipe at the back of an old drawer here in my husband’s home where the family have lived for nine generations. No one remembers having tried this recipe before. Bitter almonds are very difficult to find. They are occasionally to be found in Oriental shops. You can substitute sweet almonds and add a few drops of bitter almond essence (plain almond essence will not do), but again this is hard to obtain. You will probably have to settle for using ordinary sweet almonds and the result will be very good, if not totally authentic.


  • 1 lb (450 g) cooked potatoes, rubbed through a sieve
  • 9 eggs, separated
  • 12 oz (350 g) sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon lemon rind
  • 2 oz (50 g) blanched sweet almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 oz (25 g) blanched bitter almonds, finely chopped


Beat the yolks of the eggs with the sugar. Originally, German cooks had to beat the mixture for a half-hour but with an electric hand mixer it can be done in 5 minutes or until the whisk leaves heavy tracks in the mixture.

Fold in the lemon rind, the potatoes and the almonds. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold into the cake mixture. Put into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at gas mark 4/350°F/180°C for 1 hour 15 minutes. You may have to cover the cake with greaseproof paper if it becomes too brown.

The Germans called the potato ‘kartoffel’ in the eighteenth century but at first even starving people put up a great resistance to a food considered fit only for pigs. Its inclusion in workhouse soups in Munich had to be kept secret.