Thursday, October 16, 2014

Burnt Almond Cake

It was my birthday today and as always Jai made the birthday cake.  This time as the cake was a bit lengthy and since I wanted to make sure that I get a good cake on my special day I helped him with it quite a bit (as I know he has this tendency to take for short cuts :)). Luckily, it was my day off and though I was nursing a cold, I couldn't keep myself away from all the action.
Don't be put off by the "burnt" in the name though. It is one of the yummiest cakes you would ever taste. This is considered one of the local specialties of San Jose and one of the best tasting American cakes. This is not the original recipe, but a combination of several recipes that I found online that I thought would turnout good.
Special thanks to all those bloggers who have put their recipes for this wonderful delight online.
For the Almond Cake:
4 extra-large egg whites
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups  cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 oz butter, at room temperature
To Make the Almond Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two 9” cake pans with parchment, and spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla and almond extracts. Set aside.
In the bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to mix and sift the ingredients. Add the softened butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk to the bowl, and mix on low speed until the flour is moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 90 seconds.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the egg white mixture in 3 parts, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until the tops spring back lightly when pressed. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then gently invert them out of the pans, invert them again until they’re right-side up, and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
(Note: I have made this cake using a sponge cake also and it also turned out fine. So if you are not a big fan of almonds and almond essence, you can go for a plain sponge cake instead)

To Make the Caramelized Almonds/Burnt Almonds.....

In a large cast iron skillet toast 1 8oz package of sliced (not slivered) almonds.
Then sprinkle 1 Cup powdered sugar over almonds.
Stir constantly as not to burn the almonds.
Once the sugar is melted, add another 1/2 C. of powdered sugar to the almonds.
Your almonds should be brown in color and the aroma should be sweet toasted nuts.
Take off the heat and then spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to cool

Pastry Filling
2 eggs
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put all in top of double boiler and cook whisking for about 5 minutes, until it is thick and pudding like, will coat the back of the spoon, place in dish to cool for a couple of hours...put plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming on top of the filling.....
place all ingredients in the top of a double boiler....
and cook, stirring until thick.....

or in if in a hurry you can mix 2 cup. heavy whipping cream and a small box of French Vanilla Instant pudding.

To Make the Simple Syrup:
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir them together until the sugar dissolves, and heat the sugar syrup until it just starts to boil. Remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in the amaretto or almond extract.

To Make the Almond Buttercream:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
12 oz butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I used superfine so it dissolved quickly)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt

In a bowl, whisk together the flour and milk. Pour it through a fine wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, straining out any flour clumps. Heat the flour mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens. It will go from being a thin liquid to being a very thick paste. It should have the consistency of a very thick pudding when you’re done. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the flour mixture cool completely. To speed this process, put this in the freezer for a little while. Stir occasionally while the mixture cools.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy and no longer gritty, about 5-7 minutes.
Once the flour mixture is no longer warm at all, and the butter/sugar is light and fluffy, add the flour to the mixing bowl, along with the vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Whip together for 2-3 minutes until well-combined, light, and fluffy. If it seems to separate continue to beat it until it comes back together.
Using a large serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half. Place one layer on a cake cardboard (or your serving plate) and use a pastry brush to brush it generously with the simple syrup.
Scoop some buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe a ring of buttercream all along the edge of the cake round to act as a barrier and hold in the filling. Scoop 1/3 of the pastry cream onto the cake, and spread it in an even layer until it covers the cake and reaches the buttercream ring. Top the cake round with a second round, and repeat the process of brushing it with simple syrup, piping a ring of buttercream, and spreading the pastry cream in the center.
Repeat with the remaining layers, until you have a 4-layer cake with 3 layers of buttercream. Spread buttercream along the sides and top of the cake. It doesn’t have to be super-smooth since most of the surface will be covered with almonds.
Press caramelized almonds into the sides of and the top  the cake .
Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe rosettes along the top of the cake. Decorate them with more caramelized almonds, if desired.

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