Pain de genes (French almond cake)

Pain de genes is a deliciously rich French almond cake that is not at all difficult to make. The name, pain de genes, suggests that the recipe is originally from Genoa in Italy.

The almond cake is particularly lovely served as dessert with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. Ripe peaches or nectarines are pretty good with it too.

You can flavour the cake with grated lemon zest if you prefer. Another idea is to scatter flaked almonds on top of the cake before baking. The small amount of plain flour in the recipe can be replaced with potato flour or cornflour to make the cake gluten-free. Enjoy!

Photography by Sophie Harper

Serves 8


  • 115g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 90g ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 3 free-range eggs at room temperature
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 3 tsp Kirsch


  1. Butter a 20cm (8”) round cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C regular or 160C fan.
  2. Cream the butter in an electric mixer and then gradually beat in the sugar. Add the eggs one by one alternating with the almond meal. Turn the mixer speed to low and sift in the flour, baking powder and add the flavouring.
  3. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Bake for about 35 minutes until firm to the touch in the centre and shrinking from the sides of the tin. Run a spatula around the edge of the cake and leave sitting on a rack to cool for five minutes.
  4. Turn the cake out onto the rack and turn right side up to cool completely. Dust with caster sugar or icing sugar and serve cut into wedges with fresh raspberries or strawberries and cream.



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