This almond cake is like a pound cake with the added bonus of having a heavenly almond flavor. The reader who requested the recipe from Bon Appetit magazine commented that she could not get enough of it. I get that, it’s just a great cake and the jam filling is perfect. Both texture and flavor are outstanding but…wait, make that a big bold BUT with this one. Sucker fell. Twice. When I made it Friday night, I presumed I would take some photos in the morning and serve it at the monthly meeting of my food blogger group, Front Range Foodies.
It would also kill the proverbial two birds with one stone allowing me to also satisfy my need to post something March 1st for RSVP Redux, my other blog that compiles posts from bloggers that make something from the RSVP section of Bon Appetit magazine.
Then it caved in the middle, big time. Think of a sink hole. It’s supposed to be split in the middle and then slathered with jam and put back together. I have to chuckle…it would have been a matter of cutting the outside edge into two pieces…there simply was not that kind of height in the center. The cut would have simply passed over the center portion of the cake and I would have had one layer and just a donut shape for the top. I’m not kidding.
Now, I’m not blaming the restaurant or the recipe. No..I’ve had PLENTY of these experiences in my 25 years in Denver. It is the consequence of living at high altitude. The thing is, I sort of thought I had it figured out. Raise the oven temp, eliminate some leavening, don’t overbeat…the list goes on and it can be a puzzle getting it just right (Here are my tips for High Altitude Baking and Cooking). I don’t like making things twice; as a matter of fact typically I would not. But after lamenting to the group (who are so wonderful no one made me feel like an abject failure…we all live at altitude!) I set it out to serve and decided to make it again after everyone had left. This was, after all for two sites and I couldn’t accept Almond Cake #FAIL right? Wrong.
I thought I knew where I might have erred the first go around. Lesser well known than the issues with leavening agents are what can happen with overbeating. Our higher altitude and less dense air plays with the science of baked goods rising and too much rising, even in the form of beating til fluffy, can see a baked good rise too fast and then deflate before the baking has actually set components in place. This recipe required that the butter, sugar and almond paste be beat for 3 minutes to get fluffy so I guessed that I had beat that mixture more than I should have. To combat a repeat, I was determined to beat those ingredients precisely for 2 minutes. And raise the oven temp to 365 degrees, eliminate 1/4 tsp of baking powder and use extra large eggs to make sure the end result was not dry.
And it did it again. Not as bad…but still, it’s there. A big old depression in the middle. So, considering this is NOT a professional kitchen and twice is once more than normal for me…it is time to punt and just make it work. If I’m making a cake with frosting…well, that frosting can mask a multitude of errors but this cake was not being frosted. It’s supposed to be split remember? The depression the second time was not as deep so there was improvement and I decided it best to follow through with the recipe as written except for substituting an amazing raspberry and pomegranate jam for the boysenberry that was specified. I put the ‘not quite’ half layer on the bottom and followed the rest of the directions, very thankful that they included a dollop of whipped cream on top. Ah…a disguise! Perfect. And really…a totally fabulous cake! By the way…I never write recipes on this site that include my revisions for high altitude; they are meant for those of you at sea level but if you are a mile high like I am…next time I’ll eliminate more baking powder…there will be a next time. I love this cake.
- ¾ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp almond paste. (This was in the baking aisle and it comes in a can. I went to three stores before I found it but heard that World Market carries it and Whole Foods too.)
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks butter)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ cup raspberry jam (use what you have too...boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry...I would even love it with peach jam!
- Lightly sweetened whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 8 in round cake pan with two inch sides. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper and butter again.
- Blend sugar and almond paste in processor til finely ground.
- Put flour, salt and baking powder into small bowl and whisk to blend.
- Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and almond paste on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium high until each is incorporated.
- Fold in dry ingredients and transfer mix to pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes without opening oven, rotate pan and bake until cake is golden and firm to the touch. (Another high altitude change...I only baked mine for at most 35 minutes total).
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes, run knife around outer edge, invert cake onto flat surface and remove paper from the bottom. Turn over and cook on rack.
- Cut cake in half horizontally using a long serrated knife (bread knife is perfect).
- Using the bottom of a tart pan, transfer the top half of the cake to a work surface.
- Put remaining piece of cake, cut side up, on cake plate and spread the surface with jam. Place top half of cake on top of jam, cut side down.
- Dust with confectioner's sugar and served with lightly sweetened whipping cream NOTE: To evenly cut the cake, measure the overall height. Then mark the halfway point with toothpicks at several points all around the cake. Use these toothpicks as your guide to slowly cut the cake in half with a serrated knife.