L’imagination au pouvoir: Almond Cake

April 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Spring is finally here, albeit through the random bursts of rain showers and thunders. Yesterday we were standing at the door of Rosana’s, ready to leave, after picking up last minute necessities for lawnparties, when the clouds burst. I realize I don’t have a very standard definition of last minute, lawnparties are after all over a week away. But per usual, the dress was bought a couple weeks ago, the obnoxious sun hat scored last week (finally!). Fake eyelashes were picked up on a whim for formals right around the time everyone else started thinking about maybe finding a dress. And that’s just how I work. I’m a big believer in themes and an even bigger fan of in your face, impression-making, big-impact themes. So while it may just be formals, for me it’s about the entire outfit.

Anyway, I can’t tell you how excited I am to no longer be wearing drab colors. I didn’t realize outfits could be coordinated to the season until I came out here. I’m excited for yellow, flowery prints, my new summer boots (yes, ask and I’ll show you they exist) and the ten-thousand pairs of sunglasses that have been chilling in my desk for months. And then, I’m excited of this cake because what says spring more than a light, French almond cake dusted with powdered sugar and served with berry compote?

I made this for my French class as part of a presentation on the development of French cuisine through the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s a favorite of David Lebovitz, who is my favorite. I once made his lemon curd to go alongside a lemon cake and ended up eating it by the spoonful straight from the pan on the stove. Please go check out David’s site for the full story behind the recipe.

Almond Cake

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
10 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (this is a LOT of butter, over half a pound. It lends a lot of moisture to the cake but I may try cutting it down to 8 ounces next time to decrease the prominent buttery taste of the cake)
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (next time I think I’ll try using some almond flour in place)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and position the rack to the center of the oven. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with a round of parchment paper, or butter the pan and dust it lightly with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. With an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and almond paste until the paste is finely broken up (the sugar crystals helps break the paste into pieces-so don’t add the butter yet!)

3. Now add the butter and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, or a measuring cup with a spout, stir together the eggs with a fork then dribble it into the batter as you beat. Add the vanilla.

4. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk. Stir the dry ingredients into the batter until just incorporated.

5. Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The baking time may take a but longer due to the variation in different brands of almond paste.

Cool the cake on a rack before serving. This cake is extremely moist and will keep well for up to a week if well-wrapped.

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