Wednesday, September 2, 2009

toasted almond butter cake with almond buttercream frosting

I am quite the cake connoisseur. Yet, almond cake connoisseur? Not so much. I have dabbled with many, upon many, cake flavor creations, but when asked to prepare an almond tasting cake for a soon-to-be wed couple, I nervously had a lot of practicing to do.

Almond cake is one of those tastes that can be taken down so many twisting routes. Whether you want to tackle a breakfast crumb cake, a moist pound, or a light-and-fluffy sponge, combinations with the almond can tastefully be done. However, when you are making a tiered wedding cake, it can't be too light, or (in my book, ever) too stiff.

Honestly, the past week consisted of me mixing-and-matching everything produced from the crunchy nut (extracts, pastes, flour meals, etc.) into gorgeous floury blends, until magnificently, a delicate dough was produced.

And, let's just say, the wedding pair couldn't have just one bite!

Almond Butter Cake
makes one 2-layer cake

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (mixed all-purpose with whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) almond paste, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two 8-inch pans with baking spray and parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat butter, sugar and almond paste until smooth. Add eggs one at a time; mix until thoroughly blended. Add vanilla and almond extracts, beat until batter is smooth.

Add flour mixture in three additions and the buttermilk in two additions to the butter blend, starting and ending with the flour.

Fill tin pans, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch from the top of the pan. Bake until crowns of cakes are firm and golden brown, just about 22 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pans.

Almond Buttercream Frosting
makes about 3 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup veggie shortening
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rice milk, or soy milk

Combine butter and veggie shortening until smooth and fluffy. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time, splashing rice milk a tablespoon at-a-time, while blending. When well-combined, mix in almond and vanilla extracts.

For decorating: toast 1 cup of sliced almonds for perimeter of cake, as well as crown of cake.

Assembly: Do not assemble the cake if it is not yet cool. Place the first round of the cake onto a 8-10 inch cake board. Cover the entire top of the cake with buttercream. Place second layer directly on top of the other. Frost second top of second layer. To ensure easy production of decoration, chill the two layers of the cake for about 15 minutes before icing the sides/edges. Remove from fridge, ice the cake entirely. Individually place the sliced almonds around the edges. Serve immediately, or store in air-tight container.