Sophie Filippetti from Santa Rosa, Calif., was searching for a recipe for Italian king's cake. She said her mother-in-law used to make it often and even won first prize at their county fair some time ago. She has lost the recipe and wanted to be able to make it for her family again.
Kathleen McMalin from Potter Valley, Calif., sent in a recipe for torta del re — king's cake in Italian. Not to be confused with the king cake common during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, this traditional, flour-less almond cake from the Piedmont region of northern Italy is a popular choice for Passover dessert.
Edda Servi Machlin, author of "The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews," says this cake owes its name to a family legend that claims the recipe came from the secret files of the chef of one of Italy's kings. This cake also works as a low-carb and gluten-free dessert option. It's relatively easy to make, with not too many ingredients.
Topped with toasted almonds, confectioner's sugar and perhaps some fresh berries on the side, the cake is both attractive and quite delicious.
Fred Heskett from Burtonsville is looking for the recipe for the barbecue sauce that was served on the chicken at the diner in the old Ritchie farmers' market on Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie in the 1960s and '70s.
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Torta del re (Italian king's cake)
Makes 12 servings
2 tablespoons sweet butter or margarine for greasing the pan
5 large eggs, separated
Small pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups blanched almonds, very finely chopped (if you use a blender or food processor, add a tablespoon of sugar from the 1 1/4 cups so nuts don't clump together)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Grated zest of a lemon
Confectioner's sugar for garnish
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Line bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter or margarine.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat the egg whites with salt until stiff and dry.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until foamy, then gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is lemon-colored. Gradually add the chopped almonds, then the two extracts and the lemon zest. You should have a very hard paste. Mix a third of the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture to make it softer. Delicately fold in the remaining egg whites and pour into the prepared pan.
Place in the center of the middle rack in the preheated oven and bake for one hour. After the hour is over, leave the oven door ajar for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and place it upside down on a cooling rack. When the cake is cool, remove it from the pan and place it upside down over a cake dish. Top with confectioner's sugar using a sifter and sprinkle with the toasted sliced almonds.