Almond Birthday Cake With Sherry-Lemon Buttercream

This is a layer cake with sophisticated flavors, fit for a grown-up’s birthday celebration but sure to be devoured by party guests of all ages. The cake itself is made with finely ground almonds, sour cream and a touch of lemon zest. The frosting is buttercream with cinnamon for spice and yet more zest. When you’re making the frosting, be sure to let the egg white mixture cool before adding the butter; the butter should not melt when it meets the whites, which would make for a greasy frosting. What you want is for the buttercream to be smooth and fluffy, an invitation to slice into the cake and take that first heavenly bite.


For the cake:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature; more for greasing pans
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • ½ cup finely ground almonds
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

For the buttercream:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Large pinch salt
  • ¾ pound unsalted butter 3 sticks, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons fino (dry) sherry
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Nutritional Information
    • Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

      1063 calories; 71 grams fat; 42 grams saturated fat; 2 grams trans fat; 19 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 98 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 63 grams sugars; 10 grams protein; 244 milligrams cholesterol; 484 milligrams sodium

    • Note: Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available data.

8 servings


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch by 2-inch-deep round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, 1/4 cup sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest.
  2. In bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the cake flour, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat in butter and remaining 3/4 cup sour cream until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly beat in the egg mixture until fully combined.
  3. Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake layer comes out clean. Let cake layers cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes, then invert onto racks and peel off paper. Let cool completely on racks.
  4. While cakes cool, make frosting: In a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (or use a double boiler), whisk egg whites, sugar and salt until sugar is completely melted (130 to 140 degrees on a candy thermometer), 3 to 4 minutes. Remove egg whites from heat; beat mixture with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until completely cooled and thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Beat in the butter, a little at a time, until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Beat in the sherry, lemon zest and cinnamon.
  6. To frost cake, place 1 layer on a cake plate, rounded side down, trimming if necessary so it lies flat. Spread with a third of the frosting, top with second layer and frost remainder of cake.

1 1/2 hours, plus cooling

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