Gina DePalma
Gina DePalma's Toasted Almond Cake with Mascarpone Cream and Amarena Cherries

What's your favorite secret ingredient?
In the cake I made for O, the secret ingredients are almonds in two forms: almond flour and almond paste. I like to work with nuts as much as possible, because I love the flavors they bring: sweet, smoky, buttery, and even bitter.

What's your favorite kitchen trick?
Drinking bourbon and listening to some good music while cooking. Ok, maybe not in the morning—but I really think the best way to approach cooking is in a relaxed and organized manner. When you move around your kitchen in a calm, efficient way, you'll make fewer mistakes and have more fun, I guarantee it.

What was your favorite birthday cake growing up? And today?
Well, my mom made me an angel food and Jell-o cake, frosted with cream that I absolutely adored. I still get shivers when I think about it. I've grown up a little. Today I love a soft-as-a-pillow, purely vanilla cake with really buttery buttercream frosting.

What three things are always in your fridge?
Apples, almond milk, and red curry paste.

Besides baking, what are you passionate about?
Art, Italy, and rock 'n' roll.

Next: Matt Lewis's favorite birthday cake flavor...


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