Almond “Every Day” Cake

May 28, 2009

 

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Yesterday evening saw me over a pot of vegetable soup. It was a great event from start to finish, punctuated by the pop of pancetta, the slow caramelizing of onions and fennel and the smell of herbs drifting into the deepest corners of the house, infused by the bubbling broth. Served with a hunk of baguette, it made for a sweet, salty and simple springtime meal. The soup was so good, I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But I’m going to wait and talk about the soup tomorrow, or maybe over the weekend: I’ll continue eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for at least the next three days, and would like to see how it compares to itself as time marches steadily on, blending, mellowing and enlivening its flavors. Plus, it was a much bigger batch than I initially envisioned.

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Now, I’m going to talk about what I ate post-soup: cake. Yesterday, I had the occasion to cook for Christopher who was miraculously released at a decent hour from his official duties, which generally include staring cross-eyed at a thousand tiny numbers on a gargantuan computer screen… often well into the night. It pains me to imagine him all alone up there, working in a dark room with nothing but the blue glow of a PC to keep him company. So, when he gets a chance to eat at home on a weeknight, I jump whole-hog into supper-prep. Last night, I immersed myself in huge pot, accompanied by some very necessary dough and dessert–a French baguette and a basic, almond cake.

I found the recipe through one of my favorite food enthusiasts and writers, Molly Wizenburg. If you have not yet bought yourself a copy of “A Homemade Life,” or become addicted to reading the archives of her blog, (Orangette is on hold as she rolls out a pizzaria, if you will) you are not making effective use of your time. Navigate away from here–for a moment–and discover a real, true culiary gem.

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Molly likes cake as much as anyone, as far as I can tell, and her recipe fit perfectly with my needs. I wanted something that could be made with what I had on hand: having settling in after a long day, I was loathed to start my engine again in search of vanilla beans, buttermilk or enough heavy cream to do anything significant with.

[An aside: I’m steadily shedding the contents of my kitchen–many of which were thrown into the vegetable soup–as I’ll be heading home ..HOME!… in three days. My humble shelves have been reduced to a few remaining eggs, some nibble-able shards of dark chocolate, and now, a large vat of vegetable soup and a small, accompanying container of pistou. As satisfying as I find shopping to be, I’m equally delighted to use up my extra foodstuffs and come home to start afresh. I’ve been known to pack rather a strange lunch on travel days, full of some concoted version of any remaining ingredients that might get lonesome–or rot–in my absence.]

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Fortunately, Molly’s “Every Day Cake” was a perfect end to the “Every Day” meal I’d prepared and was the ideal resting place for a final teaspoon of almond extract. I changed the cake a bit, adding my last splash of almond extract along with some brown sugar, but it turned out just as it had been described–something I could eat as dessert after breakfast, at lunch, in the afternoon or post-dinner. It is not too sweet and quite dense, lending itself to absolute, quotidien satisfaction. I’ll reiterate in a slightly different way: enjoy this with a cup of coffee, a glass of lemonade or with a bottle of wine. It’s an ‘Every Day,’ allllll day kind of thing, which bodes well, since it really should be consumed within 24 hours of being born into the sweet, happy world of cake enthusiasts.

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Almond “Every Day” Cake

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

½ cup plain yogurt, at room temperature

Handfull of sliced almonds

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Set oven to 375°F, grese a 9-inch pan (Molly calls for springform, I used a plain, round pan)
In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg and set aside.

Blend the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy on low speed (with hand or stand mixer).

Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well after each addition.

Add the vanilla extract, and beat to blend.

Slowly, combine flour mixture to wet mixture–adding about 1/4 of dry mix at a time. Alternate by adding yogurt. Read: add some flour; add some yogurt; add some flour; add some yogurt; add some flour; add some yogurt; add some flour. Then you will be done. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate any remaining flour.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and spread evenly across the top–do not worry. It will be pretty sticky.

Sprinkle with a handful of almonds.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes to prevent the top from over-browning.

Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into the cake–if you can stand the wait.

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