Well, I’m back from Palm Springs…not that much tanner, but a start! Baking is just not in the books this week I guess because right after getting back from Palm Springs I went to babysit my sister’s three beautiful daughters so that she could go to Palm Springs for a few days too. They are such a joy, but definitely keep me very busy! I wanted to share with you the Sweet Almond Cake recipe from Sweet Melissa’s Baking Book though because it is just too darn tasty to keep a secret. I have to say that this book is probably my #1 go to book right now for testing new recipes and it hasn’t failed me yet. I made this cake for the baby shower I did last week and it was a huge hit! Like I said in an earlier post, I added fresh raspberries to the lemon curd since I love fresh fruit and I thought that it turned out to be a lovely addition. Hope you all find the time to try out this recipe and let me know if you do!
SWEET ALMOND CAKE WITH LEMON CURD AND LEMON MASCARPONE FROSTING
I get very excited about this cake. The almond cake is deliriously delicious all on its own. To add thin layers of fresh lemon curd gilds the lily. But the silky lemony mascarpone frosting? It’s just too much (you should really try this—really).
Makes one 9-inch cake
FOR THE CAKE
2 cups sliced blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
FOR THE LEMON CURD FILLING
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
FOR THE LEMON MASCARPONE FROSTING
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
1 3/4 cups mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
BEFORE YOU START
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a 9-inch round of parchment paper.
TO MAKE THE CAKE
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the sliced almonds with 2/3 cup of the sugar and pulse grind until it is a coarse flour.
2. Transfer the almond flour to a large bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, an additional 2/3 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.
3. Have ready a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat. (The butter will melt first, and then the milk solids will settle to the bottom. After a little while, the milk solids will start to turn golden.) When the milk solids have reached a nutty brown color, immediately remove from the heat. Using the fine-meshed strainer, strain the butter into the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Discard the butter solids. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract.
4. In the very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the very clean whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. In a slow steady stream, with the mixer on medium, add the remaining 2/3 cup of the sugar. Increase the speed to high. Beat until there are firm—not dry—glossy peaks of meringue.
5. Using a rubber spatula, briskly fold one-third of the meringue mixture into the batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining meringue until just combined.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Spin the pans to level the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before turning layers out onto the rack. Cool completely before filling or frosting. The baked layers may be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks. Do not unwrap before thawing.
TO MAKE THE FILLING
1. In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and butter. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water. Stir until the butter is melted. Continue to stir until the lemon curd thickens and is nappante (thick enough to coat the back of the spoon), about 10 minutes.
2. Strain the lemon curd into a clean bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap flush against the surface of the lemon curd (to prevent a skin from forming). Place the bowl in an ice bath (see Note, page 99) to cool before using as a filling between layers. The curd will thicken upon cooling; use it only when cool. You will use about 2/3 cup of lemon curd for each layer.
The lemon curd keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Whisk until smooth before using.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the confectioners’ sugar, zest, lemon juice, and salt on low speed until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add the mascarpone and butter and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat or the frosting will be grainy. Rebeat briefly after standing, if needed. The frosting keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature and beat briefly before using.
The cake is best eaten slightly chilled. it can be kept in a cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The foregoing is excerpted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © Melissa Murphy, 2008.
I thought I would also leave all of you with two photos of a sugar cookie order that I had last week. The colors were the same as my cake, lavender and sage green…I guess that color combo is in right now! Not the greatest photo quality, but I was running out the door and thought I should snap a shot! Enjoy!
I have had a couple people ask me about the silhouette I used, so here it is. Hopefully it inspires you to make a cake!