Mississippi baker and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Martha Foose has a knack for letting simple flavors shine. Her recipe for a traditional almond cake is a showstopper of a dessert—the kind that leaves friends and family clamoring to know the secret. But you don’t need to be a Paris-trained pastry chef like Foose to pull it off. An almond cake is the rare dessert that’s almost impossible to mess up.
Foose inherited this straightforward recipe from one of her mother’s sewing students, and though it’s a favorite in the Foose house year-round, she’s particularly fond of the classic cake this time of year. “It’s an anytime-of-day dessert so it works well for an Easter brunch,” Foose says. “It’s also a nice neutral palate so you can decorate it with just about anything.” Here, she dusts the cake with powdered sugar, adds an easy apricot glaze, and garnishes with cheerful Johnny-jump-ups for spring. (You can also skip the glaze and serve the dessert with sliced seasonal fruit like strawberries, raspberries, or peaches in the summertime, instead.) Almond cake keeps well—deepening in flavor if allowed to sit for a day—so make ahead and you’ll have one less thing to fuss with as your guests arrive. Just hold off on the glaze until you’re ready to serve.