When Ed and I were in San Francisco last week we were served a delicious almond cake with raspberry coulis When I told our hostess how much I enjoyed it, she told me the recipe was from Chez Panisse. She also told me it contained a lot of eggs and butter :-( Another very special occasion cake.
Soon after, Casa Moro, requested from the library upon our return from the Alpujarras, arrived, and I found Pastel de Almendras - Almond Cake from which I loosely adapted this recipe. I used half white and half dark brown sugar, instead of light brown; egg substitutes instead of eggs, and added 1/2 t almond extract. Perhaps, because I did not use real eggs, the cake was not as light as I hoped it might be so I subsequently added 1 t baking powder. This did not make any appreciable difference. I'm waiting for a special occasion to use real eggs. Meanwhile, this recipe makes a dense but very good cake.
In their preface to the recipe the authors write: "We find many Spanish puddings very sweet, but we could not finish this chapter without some kind of almond cake. This one is very simple, but delicious and is made by Hilde ... who lives above our village [in the Alpujarras]. She prepares her almonds by soaking them in boiling water until the skins loosen and can be easily popped off. Almonds prepared this way do have a better flavor, which is preferable for this cake, though not essential."
Line a 9 inch spring-form pan (Casa Moro calls for 26 cm, or 10.2 inch, flan or pastry tin) with a piece of wax or parchment paper buttered on both sides (or do this while eggs and sugar are mixing). When locking bottom piece in place, be sure it is absolutely level.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, using the steel blade chop, adding a third at a time so some almonds are ground fine, some medium and some coarse for bite and texture:
7.2 oz blanched almonds
Remove from processor bowl and set aside. Wipe processor bowl clean and place in bowl with mixing blade:
1/2 c + 2T extra virgin olive oil
1 c Redi Egg (for lighter cake use 4 medium eggs - I do this for company/special occasions)*
2.9 oz dark brown sugar
2.9 oz white sugar
1/2 t almond extract (optional)
Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy and bubbles form, about 5-7 minutes. The Casa Moro authors comment, speaking however of real eggs, "This whisking is important as it beats air into the mixture and makes it light." Then gently fold in (taking care not to knock out any air) all but 2 handfuls of the almonds (First time I did not reserve any almonds (top 2 photos); I now mix in 5 oz and reserve 2 oz) and
3.6 oz white flour, sifted.
Place in the prepared pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the cake is firm and golden brown. Remove and cool on a rack. I like this served with fresh figs, pomegranate seeds, rosemary and thyme. Ed prefers frozen yogurt and Dark Chocolate Drizzle.
A dinner party last night gave me the occasion to try this recipe with real eggs. The cake was delicious, a bit higher and lighter, not appreciably better than the cakes I made with egg substitute, but enough so I will now use eggs for special occasions. I served it with vanilla frozen yogurt topped with a few drops of Aromas Olive Oil and Orange I had gotten at La Oliva in Granada and garnished with figs.
(Stay tuned, I really love this oil on chocolate frozen yogurt too; when I finish this supply, I am going to try to infuse some olive oil with orange peel. The Aromas oil is available on line; pretty pricey but a few drops make a big impact.)