Reading other food blogs is so inspiring – it’s often a highlight of my day. It can lead to a dramatic change in plans as with these jalapeno cheese dishes here and here or a complete flight of fancy with garlic butter roasted mushrooms. Then there was the time I bought a box of marzipan because Joanne made Italian Rainbow cookies, stoking memories of my childhood and I just had to make some of my own. Until I saw the directions (!) and realized how many sinfully delicious (and seriously sweet) cookies I would have at the end of my baking fun.
So I put it off, and put it off until that marzipan sat in my cupboard for months! The other day I realized it was getting perilously close to the expiration date so it was now or never. Then David Lebowitz’s site popped up with this easy cake and the marzipan was liberated from its box.
As I have mentioned before, sweet is not my forte but this cake was so good, that I knew it had to go to work with me because I easily could have eaten it all, probably in about 24 hours. Seriously dangerous! Don’t let its innocuous looks fool you – it’s got sugar, 1/2 lb of butter, 6 eggs and 1/2 lb of marzipan. This baby’s got game! It has entered the very (very!) small realm of my go to desserts and I cannot wait to share it with more people. With my DIY bent, I’ll probably make my own almond paste, stay tuned!
The lazy cook I am, my version uses whole wheat flour since there was no all purpose flour in my cupboard, which resulted in the dark looking crumb. Other than the color, there was no difference. Do not let the long directions deter you – this was really simple. It’s the only way I make desserts – easy, few ingredients and basically idiot-proof!
Almond Cake (from David Lebovitz)
2/3 cup sugar
8 ounces marzipan (David used 8 oz almond paste and 1 1/3 cups sugar if you can’t find marzipan)
3/4, plus 1/4 cup cake or all purpose flour
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I left in his hyperlink note for your education and mine)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9- or 10-inch cake or spring form pan with butter, dust it with flour and tap out any excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and if you use a spring form, which makes it much easier to release the cake, make sure it goes a little up the sides since the cake is pretty liquid-y. Mine seeped through the cracks onto the bottom of the oven until I put a sheet pan under it to act as a stopper
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sugar, almond paste, and 1/4 cup of flour until the almond paste is finely ground and the mixture resembles sand. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Once the almond paste is completely broken up, add the cubes of butter and the vanilla and almond extracts, then process until the batter is very smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit before the next addition. Scrape the sides down to make sure the eggs are getting fully incorporated. Transfer the batter to a bowl and fold in the dry ingredients in two parts, just to the point of incorporating them all. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 65-70 minutes, or until the top is deep brown and feels set when you press in the center.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp or serrated knife around the perimeter, loosing the cake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Once cool, tap the cake out of the pan, remove the parchment paper, and set on a cake plate until ready to serve. (Tip: If you used a regular cake pan, David advises warming the bottom of the cake pan directly on the stovetop for just a few seconds, which will help the cake release.) Tap confectioners’ sugar through a metal sieve over the cake and serve, with or without fresh fruit.
Recipes currently inspiring me: