Reine de Saba (this is a chocolate and almond cake, thanks to Mastering the art of French cooking, the book from which Iearned to cook).
8inch cake tin, 1.1/2in deep. Butter and flour the tin.
Melt 4oz good plain chocolate with 2tbl rum or coffee (I go for half and half) over very hot water.
Cream 1/4lb of castor sugar with 1/4lb of softened butter, until they are a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.
Beat in three egg yolks until well blended.
Beat the three egg whites with a pinch of salt until there are soft peaks. Sprinkle on 1 tbl castor sugar and beat until there are stiff peaks (a copper bowl makes this much easier).
Blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture using a ‘rubber’ spatula, then stir in 2oz of pulverized almonds (pulverise at top speed in a liquidiser for about 30 secs) and ¼ tsp almond extract.
Sift 2oz of fine cake flour.
Fold in a quarter of the egg whites.
When partially blended sift on a quarter of the cake flour and continue folding, then another ¼ of the egg whites. Fold in egg whites and flour alternately until all is used.
Turn the mixture into the cake tin, pushing the mixture up to the rim (so there’s a dip in the centre).
Bake in the oven at 350degF for about 25 mins. The cake is done when 2.1/2in to 3in around the rim are set so that a needle comes out clean but the centre moves slightly when the tin is shaken and the needle comes out of the centre oily.
Allow the cake to cool for 10 mins, run a knife around the edge of the tin and reverse the tin onto a rack. Allow to cool for an hour or two.
I like it just like this, but you can cover it with chocolate butter icing and make a design on the icing with almonds.