Thursday, July 22, 2010

Almond Cake Part 2



A week or so ago I was raving about this Almond Cake and it's illustrious history along with how good it is. I had one gripe which was that it called for 8 ounces of Almond Paste and Almond Paste is sold in 7 ounce containers. Then the other day I was looking for a recipe in Alice Water's essential cookbook The Art of Simple Food and the page opens up to a recipe for Almond Cake using 7 ounces of Almond Paste. Now keep in mind that the originator of this recipe according to David Lebovitz is the original Chez Panisse Pastry chef Leslie Remolif Shere. It didn't surprise me that of all the recipes Alice's was the one most accommodating to the home cook. She also calls for the use of cake flour which makes for a lighter end result. When using cake flour always look for King Arthur's Unbleached Cake Flour.

In my original post I suggesting maybe that using your hands to break down the almond paste and sugar was a good idea, well I've changed my mind after using all three methods the best way by far is a food processor. If your batter has some lumps of almond paste in it don't worry, they are undetectable once baked (at least mine were).

Also even though fresh, seasonal peaches or nectarines sliced on top of this cake are delicious I still think candied sour cherries make for a very decadent and delicious combination with this cake (and sour cherries are still in season and at the market).

So here is the recipe (with some slight adaptation) from the source herself, Alice, take it away:

Almond Cake
Preheat the oven to 325F

Butter a 9" x 3" round cake pan, line with parchment, butter parchment and dust the pan with flour, shaking out any excess.

Sift together: 1 cup cake flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt into bowl and put aside.

In a food processor add:

7 ounces of Almond Paste and 1 1/4 cups sugar.
Pulse until the almond paste has been pulverized or at the very least broken down into very small pieces.

In another bowl beat with a mixer or whisk (I think a standing mixer works best for this) 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound plus 4 Tablespoons - at room temperature) until light, add the almond and sugar mixture and beat again until well incorporated and fluffy. Add 1 Teaspoon Almond extract or Amaretto.

Then beat in one at a time 6 room temperature eggs. Taking breaks to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.

Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

Turn the cake out of the pan, remove parchment paper.

Served with aforementioned sliced seasonal fruits, candied cherries and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or just eat it plain it's so good it really doesn't need anything.

If you want to make this an adult dessert and cut the sweetness of the whole affair I suggest adding a splash of Kirsch or Cognac to the cherries before spooning them over the cake.

Candied Sour Cherries

Place 1 pound of sour cherries, rinsed and pitted into a sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil on high heat then reduce to medium so the cherries are at a gentle rolling boil. Cook for 25 minutes or until the syrup is greatly reduce, thick and coats the cherries. Stir with a wooden spoon frequently.

These cherries are also good for any recipe or drink that calls for maraschino cherries.



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