Oct 26, 2009
I loved this cake! And herein is an advantage of deciding to bake every recipe in a book. If I hadn't committed myself to that, I would never have baked this cake. Too putzy, too many steps, too spongy a cake, too cute and pink.... But now I'm thinking that I might want this cake for my birthday cake instead of the passion fruit, which was my previous choice.
It is putzy, though. I took a vacation day to stay home and bake this cake so I could serve it to my investment club. When my friend Teddie asked me why I hadn't been at work, and I told her I'd stayed home to bake a cake, she was astonished. How long did it take? I told her about five hours, counting everything including cooling times. Then she asked me what had taken so long. I told her about toasting and grinding the almonds, sawing off the tops of the cakes, beating the eggs for five minutes, making the Amaretto syrup, etc. She replied, "No normal person would bake this cake! It's way too much trouble!" She might be right. If you're a normal person, stay away from this recipe. I must add that she stopped insulting me after she ate a piece.
No individual step is hard, but there are a fair number of steps. My mom taught me to put all the ingredients out on the counter before I started cooking something. She didn't know, I'm sure, that there was a French name for this common-sense step. Mise en place does sound more chef-y than put the ingredients on the counter.
I couldn't figure out how the almonds were going to work in the sponge cake. Sponge cake is light, ground almonds make a cake dense. How can you have a light, dense cake? Amazingly, that's pretty much what you get. It's so moist and tender, yet it has the slight texture of almonds, which gives the batter )made with egg yolks beaten for five minutes)
and a meringue, some heft.
There are lots of warnings about how fragile and tender the cake layers are, so I held my breath every time I handled them, which was a fair amount of breath-holding.
Some of the five hours it took to make the cake included a run to the liquor store to buy some Amaretto.
My little cache of liquor has quite an amazing number of bottles of expensive things I've bought for one recipe and never used again. In fact, I've bought three different bottles of Calvados on three different occasions for three different recipes. Each time, the bottle has been pushed to the back of the cabinet and I forgot that I already had some. If anyone needs to borrow a quarter-cup of Calvados, I'm your go-to woman.
The syrup is easy enough to make. It just has to cool for a while. Once you denude the cake of its top crust and brush off any crumbs from the bottom crust,
you can happily brush alcoholic syrup on the layers
As I remember from my chocolate-raspberry tiramisu, however, after you do that, the cake becomes very, very fragile and will fall apart when moved. This was not a tragedy with the tiramisu because you could pretend that's how you wanted it. It's hard to pull that off with a layer cake.
I got so nervous I ordered Jim to put the first layer on the cake plate while I closed my eyes.
Meanwhile, I made the raspberry whipped cream.
I still had half a jar of seedless raspberry jam that I'd used for the tiramisu. It seemed like a lot, but was about 40 grams short of what I was supposed to use. Good old Jim offered to run to the grocery store and get more, but I decided it was close enough. I added 40 more grams of cream to make sure I had the correct total amount, and I added a little sugar to make up for the absence of jam. It was perfect.
I adore whipped cream, and I love the idea of using it for frosting. It seems more like you're required to eat it when it's the actual frosting, whereas when it's just a dollop served on the side, you always think that if you were a better person you wouldn't eat it. I always eat it anyway, but I appreciate not being put in that moral conundrum.
My investment club was awed. We'd already gone through a few bottles of wine and decided on a few stock purchases which we bought with money we'd made from selling stocks at a profit, which is not our usual modus operandi. So we were already a cheerful group, and we became even more cheerful when we started eating
I don't know why I chose this for an autumn cake. It you were to attach this cake to a season, its pale yellow cake layers and girlishly pink whipped cream would definitely attach it to spring. It would be an adorable cake for a baby shower or for a Mother's Day dinner. On the other hand, it was pretty darned good on a chilly October night.
Joyce: "Divine! This is the best cake I've ever had."
Betty: "Fabulous! The texture is so light you can hardly tell there are almonds in it."
Patty: "The raspberry is nice and tart--I like it that it's not too sweet."
Barbara: "This is a good alternative to chocolate."
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We have another new baker. Lisa, who describes herself as an avid photographer and baker, is joining up. It's a perfect combination of interests for this project, and I'm looking forward to following her blog.
Posted by Marie at 5:20 PM