Monday, May 14, 2012

Absolutely Perfect Almond Cake

{The I-Ate-An-Entire-Cake-And-It-Was-Worth-It Almond Cake}






Now that grad school is out for the summer I'm making up for lost time in the kitchen, and what better way to get back in the swing of things than put on some Springsteen, dust out my neglected Cuisinart and pulverize a ridiculous amount of almonds. My gifted-in-the-kitchen cousin turned me on to Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert earlier this year, and I can't recommend her minimalist, rustic, out-of-this-world recipes enough. And so...

Meet the Alice Medrich almond cake, which has barely any flour (you could easily make this gluten-free) but instead relies almost entirely on said pulverized almonds (and, by the transitive property, Bruce Springsteen). The cake is incredibly dense with a perfect almond crust, and goes well with balsamic strawberries and coffee for breakfast or balsamic strawberries and dry white wine for dessert. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or all of the above, because I ate an *entire* cake over the course of four days. I'm not even ashamed; it was so good you guys. Take my word for it and double the recipe to bake two cakes; one for the party and one for yourself, for later, for nibbling, mouselike, until it's suddenly, incomprehensibly, staggeringly g-o-n-e. 

Absolutely Perfect Almond Cake
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. Be conservative with the sugar and generous with the almonds. For richest flavor and best texture, bake one day ahead and wrap in cellophane. 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) unblanched or blanched almonds
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into several chunks and slightly softened
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For crunchy almond crust:
1 tablespoon softened butter
6 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Smear the sides and bottom of the pan generously with about 1 tablespoon softened butter. Scatter 6 tablespoons sliced almonds over the bottom of the pan and press some of them about 1 inch up the sides; distribute any extra nuts evenly over the bottom. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar over the bottom and sides of the pan.

Place the almonds, sugar, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are finely pulverized. Add the eggs, butter, and kirsch, if using, and pulse to blend thoroughly. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse just until blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick plunged into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overcook. 

Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. To unmold, slide a slim knife or spatula carefully around the inside of the pan, pressing against the pan to release the cake without cracking the crust. Cover the pan with a plate, and invert both. Remove the pan and leave the cake crust side up to serve.

Tightly wrapped, the cake keeps well at room temperature for several days. Serve with fresh or pureed berries, ice cream, or sliced fresh plums or nectarines. 

23 comments:

  1. i'll make this and eat it all myself too, since my bf hates almonds.

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  2. yum! oh man, i have SO many recipes to try out this summer! :)

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  3. oh c'mon! why? why have you done this to me?!
    and i think mr. springsteen is always a necessity, don't you?

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  4. yum yum yum! i have been baking more now that i don't have a weekend job- free time is so important!
    xo
    sami

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  5. My Mom has a ridiculous bag of slivered almonds from Costco sitting in her pantry right now, which hasn't really been used, UNTIL NOW!

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  6. Totally pinned this sucker.

    xo!
    cortnie

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  7. that does look like an absolutely perfect almond cake. I actually just baked a polenta-almond cake this morning, and I'm planning on smothering it in baked rhubarb and oranges...and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll eat the entire thing by myself. That's the problem with cakes, they linger, and they last and they only get better which each passing day. Will definitely try this one when I'm done with the one waiting in the kitchen.

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  8. also pinned it for the weekend - love almond cake and it looks so good! thank you.

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  9. i LOVE that book. those recipes are WINNERS.

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  10. Almond Cake and Bruce Springsteen...two of my favourite things!

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  11. Oooh, this does look amazing. I definitely need to tweak-up a grain/gluten-free version. Strawberries and ice cream are a genius pairing.

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  12. YUM!!! Looks delicious. Cake for breakfast ... yes please!!!

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  13. Only would have taken me two days to eat the whole cake.

    Amateur.

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  14. yummy....cake for breakfast? ALWAYS!! i just made blackberry financiers today speaking of cakes.

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  15. I made this cake last night for after dinner... and it was wonderful! How on earth did you make it last FOUR WHOLE DAYS!?! We have two (very generous) slices left for this evening. Thanks for the recipe! I'm putting this one in the repertoire.

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  16. As a self-professed almond lover, this cake looks absolutey delicious and yes, I may eat the whole thing. I really shouldn't be making sweets like this since my husband doesn't eat sugary desserts which leaves me to my own devices. However, I may have to make an exception for this.

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  17. my second cake is in the oven now... so good. thanks for sharing the recipe!

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  18. My mom makes an absolutely perfect almond cake as well... I may just have to bake them both up and do a little taste test. Yum.

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  19. Looks amazing!! What size pan do you use??

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  20. Hi Lily! Greetings from the island! I've stopped by your blog from time to time since this summer and I just love your writing and all your stunning photography. Keep up the great work! After reading this recipe, it has endured as a must-make mental note for months, and I've been waiting for (what? I don't know) the right time, perhaps, to make it. Well, I finally threw it together last week and it was SO easy and SO delicious, the perfect contribution to a wintery Maine family gathering. Everyone loved it. Thank you so much for sharing! It's sure to be a go-to recipe from now on. Best wishes to you and P for a joyous and peaceful holiday season!

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  21. I made this and it was wonderful! It lasted two days in our two-person home, which I feel is the absolute longest that anyone could manage.

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