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An Unusual Frosting, an Unusual Cake & the Best Thing I've Baked Recently

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The term sheet cake reminds me of grocery stores. It conjures up bakeries with fluorescent lighting and dry yellow cake with tooth-achingly sweet buttercream balloons piped on top. It shouldn't, though: A sheet pan is an excellent shape for baking a cake. It's perfect (and easy to slice) for a crowd, still looks festive in its scale, and is far less complicated to assemble than a layer cake.

Photo by Posie Harwood

This particular cake recipe is one of the best things I've baked lately. As a fervent lover of all things almond, I was thrilled to uncover a cake that tasted nutty but not overpoweringly so. The cake is airy and light, falling somewhere in between the texture of a chiffon cake and a classic yellow layer cake.


Almond extract and almond meal give it that nuttiness; the almond meal also helps to keep the cake a moist so it doesn't dry out (although I recommend eating it the day you bake it).

Photo by Posie Harwood

Baking the cake in a 9- x 13-inch pan gives it that festive, jumbo party cake feeling, but you could easily use standard round cake pans if you prefer. And while choices for frosting are, of course, endless, I strongly recommend you give this curious one a try.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Instead of a classic buttercream method, this frosting using a cooked flour technique. You'll whisk together flour and milk until it thickens, then let it cool until it's just warm. In the meantime, you'll beat together softened butter, almond extract, and granulated sugar until very light and fluffy. It looks ready, but you'll continue to beat it as you add the warm flour mixture a spoonful at a time. With each spoonful, the frosting whips into an airier, silkier cloud.


The result is a buttercream that less sweet, dense, and rich than most, with a whipped, almost mousse-like texture that pairs perfectly with such a delicate cake.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Try it, and prepare to be impressed by how easy it is to bake something so elegant and sophisticated. Top it with fresh berries, poached pears, or toasted coconut for an excellent go-to party dessert.

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Almond Sheet Cake

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Makes one 9" x 13" cake

For the cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup almond flour or meal

For the frosting

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

Tell us about your favorite cake—birthday cake, holiday cake, snack cake—and the frosting you top it with in the comments.

Tags: almond, party cakes, sheet cakes