Sunday, May 20, 2012
golden almond and pear cake.
Skimming through the pages of The Cake Bible, you will notice that there's no lack of wonderful butter cake recipes. Delicious no less, due to the reverse creaming method that yields a cake with a crumb that dissolves on your tongue with a slight nudge.
Not too long ago, I made a pound cake recipe from the very same book. In eggshells too, for Easter! The texture was so fine and the cake tender. There's a variation of it which uses less butter and icing sugar to create a denser texture, and there's no doubt that I will try it in the near future.
But I digress. I was betting that the book's golden almond cake recipe would be even more sublime as part of the flour is replaced with a gluten-free component, resulting in an even more melt-in-your-mouth crumb while being perfumed by the nutty aroma of almond. And if you're an ardent fan of sour cream cakes, well then, rejoice! The sour cream in this cake makes it moist and tender, and should be added to your to-bake list. If you're like me, it would have stretched way into the hundreds by now.
Before baking, I decided to artistically arrange slices of poached pear in a concentric circle on top of the batter but as you can see, they sank to the bottom. Oh well. If you're planning to add pears too, which I think is a brilliant combination with almond, you might as well lay them down at the bottom of the pan before pouring the batter over.
The Cake Bible suggests that this cake is best eaten when warm, minutes out of the oven. I second that notion.
No doubt, this recipe is not your most almond-iest cake- there are other recipes which utilize almond paste, and at a higher proportion to flour, to give a cake that screams almond through and through. This cake is a little more subtle with the almond, using a modest percentage of ground almonds and a bit of almond extract.
You may be a little turned off at this point. Almond extract? How artificial. Indeed, when used excessively, the intense flavour is hard to scrub off your tastebuds, rendering the recipe an unappetizing flop. But that is not the case here. The amount of extract used is just nice such that the cake is imbued with the flavour of almond but not overly so. There is no cause for disgust, really.
All in all, another winner from The Cake Bible!
Golden Almond and Pear Cake
adapted from The Cake Bible
makes a 7-inch cake
I halved the original recipe and metric measurements would have as such become a bit of a pain. I suggest you get out those weighing scales to ease your headache.
1 large egg
1/3 cup sour cream, divided
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp vanilla
5/6 cups sifted cake flour
1/6 cup ground, unblanched sliced almonds, toasted and finely ground
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp softened butter
2 poached pears, each sliced into eighths
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan. Arrange the pear slices on the bottom of the pan.
Lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the sour cream and extracts.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure.
Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides and pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Now's the best time to tuck into the cake or you could wait for it to cool down completely before storing airtight.