February 7, 2012

Toasted Almond Cake With Strawberries

Makes about 8-9 slices
For cake:
3/4 cup whole almonds with skins (1/4 pound), toasted and cooled
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 1/4 cups superfine granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds (2 ounces)

For strawberries and cream:
2 cups water
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 lb strawberries, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon rose water or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or to taste
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

Special equipment: a 9-inch square baking pan (2 inches deep)

Make cake:
  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour cake pan, knocking out excess flour.
  • With blender motor at high speed, add half of toasted almonds through top hole and finely grind (be careful not to grind to a paste). Transfer to a bowl and grind remaining almonds in same manner, transferring to bowl. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to ground almonds and whisk until combined well.
  • Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until foamy, about 15 seconds, then add superfine sugar a little at a time, beating. Continue beating until mixture is thick, pale, and forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, 7 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 10 to 14 minutes with a handheld. Add butter in a slow stream, beating, then add milk and almond extract and beat until just combined. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  • Spread batter in pan, smoothing top, then sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds. Bake until top is golden, cake begins to pull away from side of pan, and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then run a knife around edge to loosen and invert onto rack. Turn cake right side up on rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes more.

Make strawberries in syrup:
  • Bring water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, uncovered, until reduced to about 2 cups, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  • Transfer syrup to a bowl and cool completely. Stir in strawberries and rose water and macerate at room temperature 30 minutes.

Whip cream and assemble dessert:
  • Beat cream in a large bowl with cleaned beaters until it holds soft peaks.
  • Cut cake into 4 squares and reserve 2 squares for another use. Carefully cut each of remaining 2 squares diagonally into quarters for a total of 8 triangles, then halve each triangle horizontally. Sandwich triangle halves with strawberries, syrup, and whipped cream.

Inspired By: Epicurious.com