Easy Recipe for Almond Pound Cake and Almond Paste
A cook book I have owned for almost twenty years has recently become a sort of bible for me. Aptly named The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, it truly is a guidepost for how to make the best possible cakes in a home kitchen. Rose has a different method for mixing the ingredients, which results in wonderfully tender and moist cakes. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar as most recipes do, she mixes the butter into the dry ingredients to coat the flour molecules, which prevent over-development of gluten. We want gluten for the chew in bread, but we don’t need that same chew in cakes.
Whenever I read any other cake recipe than hers, I mentally change the instructions and ingredients to her method — I “Rose” the recipe. Now I am using recipes that are not always hers, but always have her signature tenderness. Here is the first cake I adapted. This is also the very first entry on my blog, Cooking in Mexico.
The recipe is so high in fat, I call it a “Pound Cake Plus”. The recipe was sent to me after a failed baking attempt when it collapsed in the center. It was reported to be delicious, but needed help to maintain its structure. I wanted to bake this cake, but I also wanted it to look good. Any recipe can be corrected, and this one corrected beautifully. Using less fat, less sugar, the correct pan, and Rose’s mixing method made all the difference.
Both fat and sugar contribute to the tenderness of a cake, but overdoing these two can result in a cake so tender, it can’t maintain its structure I lessened the fat only slightly by using two whole eggs instead of four egg yolks. I lessened the sugar significantly, though the recipe still contains enough when the amount of sugar in the almond paste is taken into consideration. I used a tube pan instead of a 9″ springform pan to provide more surface to support the cake, and finally, I mixed it using Rose’s method of blending the dry ingredients with the fat ingredients for a tender crumb.
“Rosed” Almond Pound Cake
- 2 whole eggs at cool room temperature
- 1 cup (242 grams) sour cream , divided
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups (228 grams) 50% whole wheat flour, 50% all purpose flour (if measuring by volume, sift then measure)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (100 grams) (Pulverize sugar in food processor for 3 minutes or use fine granulated sugar)
- 7 oz. (200 grams) almond paste (see below to make your own)
- 1 cup (227 grams) butter at cool room temperature
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter and flour an 8-9 cup tube pan or an 8-cup loaf pan. Line bottom of pan with buttered parchment paper.
- Combine eggs, 1/4 cup of sour cream and almond extract in a small bowl.
- Combine flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a stand-up mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.
- Add butter, almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup of sour cream. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are moistened, then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top with spatula and bake for 50-60 minutes, checking after 40 minutes. After 40-45 minutes, cover with foil to prevent over-browning of top.
- When a wooden toothpick inserted into cake center comes out clean, the cake is done. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto cooling rack. Remove parchment paper and, using a second cooking rack, gently turn cake right side up to cool completely.
As the photo attests, this cake has no problem maintaining its structure while still remaining tender, even when made with 50% whole wheat flour. It is so rich, that no more than a dusting of powdered sugar is needed. For a special occasion, serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice cream.
In food processor, combine 7 oz. each of whole blanched almonds and powdered sugar. If you only have unblanched almonds, follow these easy instructions to blanch and remove the skins:
Pour boiling water over the almonds and let sit for exactly one minute. Immediately drain and immerse in cold water until cool enough to handle. Pat dry with a towel. Pinch each nut with your fingers to pop the nut out of its skin. This is easier than it sounds. Put in a skillet over moderately low heat until the nuts are fairly dry but not starting to toast.
Back to the food processor. Process the now blanched almonds and sugar until fairly fine. Add one egg white, a pinch of salt and one teaspoon of almond extract. At this point, it may be so thick that you need to pulse the mixture. It’s OK if the paste is not absolutely smooth, as small pieces add some texture to the cake. This will make enough for two cakes plus a little extra to eat by the spoon — it is that good! Freeze the extra for the next time you bake Almond Pound Cake. Or you can buy almond paste. It’s a little pricey, so consider making the paste, at least once, if only to see how easy it is to make and how good homemade almond paste tastes.
If you don’t have superfine sugar, pulverize sugar in a food processor for three minutes.
Update: Initially, I intended for my blog, Cooking in Mexico, to be mostly a baking blog. Instead, it found its own way and marched in the direction of Mexico, our home now for thirteen years. This unexpected development has given me a finely tuned appreciation for Mexican cuisine. I hope it does the same for you.
December 8, 2010