dear gina depalma, i’m so sorry…

April 11th, 2009 · 27 Comments

dear gina,

i’m so sorry. really i am. and even worse, i am terribly ashamed. you see, about two weeks ago i ran across this beautiful recipe for your torta di mandorla and decided to bake one for my guy. it was a late sunday morning, i had all the ingredients in the house – as well as a 13 year old sous chef just itching to crack an egg.

i did everything right. or so i thought. and then when it was out of the oven, all cooled and glazed, i took one bite and i knew i’d made a mistake. a big one. it was just, well – it was off. but what could it have been? where did i go wrong? i thought i was ON IT. i mean afterall, it’s a simple recipe. and then, after about 20 minutes i realized the error i’d made. and sadly, it was an unforgiving error. i used baking soda instead of baking powder.

not much more i need to say here as i’m sure you’re quite aware of the consequences. so allow me to say again, i’m so sorry to have defiled what could have been and should have been, your wonderful cake.

respectfully yours,

claudia young

ps. my boyfriend ate the entire thing.

torta di mandorla
from gina depalma – pastry chef at babbo via
serious eats

*ceFRET’s note – i’m really fond of the meyenberg goat butter and decided to use it for the glaze to lend a slightly different note. the butter is browned, so perhaps you can imagine how spectacular this was. the glaze turned out beyond stellar. but indeed, i ruined the cake itself. even if cary didn’t seem to notice…

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched or natural almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
grated zest of 1 medium lemon or 1/4 a medium orange
1/2 cup orange juice

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (the goat butter makes for a lovely and subtle flavor)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
a few drops of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds, toasted and cooled

preheat the oven to 350°F. grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.

crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly in both directions for about 30 seconds. add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.

pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. the cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack.

while the cake cools, make the glaze. melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy saucepan. when the bubbles subside, lower the heat and watch the butter carefully, swirling it in the pan occasionally to distribute the heat. when the butter begins to turn a light tan color and smells slightly nutty, turn off the heat and let the butter sit. it will continue to darken as it sits.

while the butter cools, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. whisk in the milk until completely smooth but thick, then slowly whisk in the butter. taste the glaze and add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. stir in the toasted almonds. spread the almonds and glaze onto the top and sides of the cake and let it sit until set and dry.


the moral of this blog post is – when baking, one slight miscalculation, one small slip up – and you’re done. finished. over.

baking can be a cruel mistress.

Tags: bad · baking

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Julia // Apr 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    and now you know why I’m not a good baker! It’s way too precise for me.

  • 2 Melissa // Apr 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Julia, that’s probably exactly why I should bake. I love precision haha.

    Sorry about your error, C, but at least Cary enjoyed it. The glaze does look outstanding.

  • 3 cary // Apr 11, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I took half to work the next day and ate the whole thing. thought it was good.

  • 4 krysta // Apr 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    ah, well. been there done that! and will continue to screw something up again…

  • 5 Jennifer Hess // Apr 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Now, see, I’m so not a baker, I am ashamed to admit I had to think for a minute about that mix-up. Still, it *looks* lovely. So there’s that. 😀

  • 6 The Italian Dish // Apr 11, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Heeheehee! I can’t help it. I am laughing. We’ve all made those mistakes in the kitchen. I love that you posted and shared this and I love that your boyfriend still thought it was good!

  • 7 claudia // Apr 11, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    it really looked fabulous. i totally could have lied. but it was too fun to pass on telling the true story…

    it was edible. but not to serve to any of YOU guys… i kept trying to determine where i’d gone wrong. salty but more than that… then it hit me…

    but it’d be a good remedy for heartburn!!!

  • 8 Robert // Apr 11, 2009 at 8:44 pm


    Mighta been taller the other way……..

  • 9 maggie // Apr 11, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    sorry about the disappointment. It sounds like a lovely recipe! Don’t be too hard on yourself!

  • 10 Daniel // Apr 12, 2009 at 1:40 am

    It doesn’t look to bad to me. And I’ve made the same mistake in reverse… we made up a batch of cookies at home and used baking POWDER instead of baking SODA. So the cookies were three inches tall.

    We still ate ’em.

    Casual Kitchen

  • 11 Julia // Apr 12, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Melissa, You don’t bake? Considering how meticulous you are, I bet you’d be great at it!

  • 12 democommie // Apr 12, 2009 at 7:12 pm


    You should have just sent the whole thing to me, so that it could be properly disposed of. As everyone knows, the only thing more horrific than a “dessert” mistake is no dessert!

    I have a recipe for pound cake that I love; no leavening agents except the air that’s whipped into the sugar, butter and eggs. It’s a bit time consuming, but DAMN–it’s good!

  • 13 Jaden // Apr 12, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Exactly why I just posted that I don’t bake! I’m not big on specifics and directions… :-(

  • 14 Marie // Apr 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I love your honesty! I’ve certainly done things like that, especially when I bake. Hey it got eaten anyway, it couldn’t have been that bad!
    It sure looked good!

  • 15 The Expatresse // Apr 12, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Exactly why I do NOT bake (well, that and the fact that carbs are not my friend). It’s too exact a science.

    But, damn, that sure looks good (never said I didn’t love to EAT baked goods . . .).

  • 16 jim voorhies // Apr 13, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Just so you know, most baking recipes also don’t do well if you decide to make a bigger batch by doubling things. Especially biscuit recipes. But you can make perfectly acceptable white hockey pucks…

  • 17 Chris // Apr 13, 2009 at 7:09 am

    If might not have risen much but it was still pretty. The glaze looks amazing.

  • 18 ElZorro // Apr 13, 2009 at 9:01 am


    I have an idea:

    Slice the top off and you can use it to deodorize your kitchen!

  • 19 goodfoodmatters // Apr 13, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Ah, the mysteries of baking alchemy…
    I’ve slipped up the same way, although substituting powder for soda is a little more forgiving.
    Appreciate the tip on the goat butter—fabulous idea for the glaze.

  • 20 lo // Apr 13, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Need I say: been there, done that!
    Crying shame, really.

    That said — goat butter makes everything better, right?

  • 21 zestycook // Apr 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Sorry about your mistake but I am glad you still enjoyed it. I must say it looks great!

  • 22 Ken Albala // Apr 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    The cake itself looks just lovely. But can I say, what sort of pornographic act did you perpetrate for this frosting? Boyfriend enjoyed it twice I hope.

  • 23 claudia // Apr 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    did ken just say that? because if he did he totally wins BEST COMMENT EVER.

  • 24 JUNE BUG // Apr 13, 2009 at 10:05 pm


    Oh well, we all make mistakes. Nice to see that you do too! Fun post!

  • 25 naomi // Apr 14, 2009 at 2:00 am

    I feel your pain, in fact my mouth is puckering with the taste memory of over bicarbed cakes of yore. That 13 year old sous chef learnt a valuble lesson though? So not all in vain.

    Can’t believe you didn’t just lick the icing off, it looks amazing. Brown butter is the bomb.

    x x x

  • 26 Aunt Flora // May 21, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    The food photos are wonderful – aren’t you ready for a published cookbook?!!! What you can do with leftovers and a cupboard full of pastas and more is quite incredible. I like the idea of using up what’s in the house instead of always running out for more food. Gina’s cake looks amazing- even with one wrong ingredient.
    All the best with a big hug –
    Aunt F.

  • 27 cook eat FRET - zucchini olive oil cake with lemon crunch glaze // Sep 6, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    […] depalma would’ve been proud of my rendition. especially after my last fiasco. and mario batali would have happily served this at babbo with a scoop of mascarpone […]

  • 28 // Feb 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Hi friend
    That post is very helpful for me,i like it very much,thanks!

  • 29 // Feb 3, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Tiffany ¥Æ¥£¥Õ¥¡¥Ë©` ¥Í¥Ã¥¯¥ì¥¹/¥Ú¥ó¥À¥ó¥È

  • 30 Jane // Feb 3, 2016 at 2:00 am

    Therefore they came up with a highly skilled solution known as 3 month pay
    day loans So, afterwards you can have considered fast fund via the financial products, you can utilize a assist sum of cash for lots of intention offering holiday charges,
    travel expenses shopping and several of the things.

  • 31 IWC時計コピーダ?ヴィンチ // Feb 3, 2016 at 3:00 am


  • 32 kjwcqfkbby // Feb 3, 2016 at 3:24 am

    claudia young – dear gina depalma, i’m so sorry…

  • 33 // Feb 4, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Dear friend
    The post is very helpful for me,i like it very much,thank you!

Leave a Comment