This weekend I went to a little dinner party gathering at a friends house. I have been dying to make an almond cake ever since having a delicious almond cake at a friend's wedding in Annapolis. A party is a perfect excuse to make a cake. As opposed to make a cake for just me (aka, for my mom to eat by herself).
The first cake was an epic fail. I mean, epic. It tasted HORRIBLE. The cake itself came out beautifully. The batter tasted delicious. The cake was fluffy, golden brown and moist. (I neglected to take a pic due to anger and self pity. It might still be at home so I may try to retro update this blog post.) But the second you take a piece and put it into your mouth, you taste the golden exterior and then the delicious almond flavor and then as you keep chewing…you realize the cake tastes like ass*. Baking epic fails are super sad. I hate wasting all those ingredients. Also, it is annoying since I'd like to consider myself a fairly confident baker. Well, there's no better way to learn than from mistakes.
1. Adapted a coconut cake recipe for almonds.
2. Used stale almond flour.
3. Use the wrong kind of almond milk.
4. Used too much almond extract.
5. Used baking soda instead of baking powder.
1. Don't have a food processor so I was afraid of the straight up almond cake recipes.
2. It was too late to go to Whole Foods to buy a replacement bag of almond flour and also almond flour is damn expensive.
3. I usually make sure to buy the kind of almond milk that tastes good, instead I bought the one that tastes like ass, which explains the ass-ness of the cake.
4. I tasted the cake batter and it was fine, but it didn't bake up fine, which makes me think I went overboard on the extract (3 tsp).
5. With almonds, apparently it is better to go with baking powder, not soda.
Sadly, this all occurred Thursday night, and the part was Friday night. Therefore Friday became emergency cake baking night since I had already told my hosts that I was going to provide cake.
What I changed:
1. Used an almond cake recipe from famous Chez Panisse.
2. Therefore I used almond paste despite lack of a food processor. I used a combination of kitchen aid, my fingers and a pastry cutter to break up the almond paste. (So time consuming.)
3. Used the better almond milk in the frosting (frosting was vegan for a lactose intolerant friend).
4. Used less almond extract (1 tsp).
5. Used baking powder
Weirdly, I made two small cupcakes in order to be able to taste test the cake and the cupcakes were not that appealing, but the cake was phenomenal. A veritable party hit. People liked it and some people even had 2 slices! Ahhh, the greatest compliment to the food that you make–gluttony.
I frosted the cake with an almond lemon butter cream frosting that has no butter and no cream. Yay! Then I used 1.5 beautifully ripe white nectarines as a delicious topping/decoration. These were sliced thinly and arranged on top of the cake. I brushed them with fresh lemon juice to make sure they wouldn't oxidize and turn a yucky brown. They were super tasty. I absolutely love white peaches and white nectarines. I think their flavor is subtle and pretty.
Unlike the taster cupcakes, which were light and fluffy and very sponge cake-like (in this case, it was an undesirable texture for me), the cake was nice and dense with a really good almond flavor from the almond paste. It really was a fabulous cake. I can't wait to make it again for a highly populated occasion.
Or maybe I will make it and eat the entire thing all by myself. I'll have to have some insulin on standby.
* Taste results were verified by an emphatically agreeing Mike D who declared that it was indeed disgusting.