I have not been doing much baking lately. Although I update my blog regularly, the last 5 posts have got nothing to do with my oven (^_^"). I used to bake bread at least once a week, but ever since my bread machine broke down, I got lazy. Even the thought of baking a chiffon cake seems like a tall order. So, whenever I craved for some baking activities, I turn to simple cakes and muffins recipes.
One great example of a super simple bake is this French Almond Cake. It is taken from this book "Easy Cake" by Linda Collister. I love all her books! I find her recipes easy, straight forward and very doable. You will be surprised at how easy to prepare the batter...the ingredients are all mixed together in a mixing bowl, all at the same time. It takes less than 5 mins for me to get it mixed and transferred to the baking pan, so it is a must to turn on the oven before you start gathering the ingredients. Even though it is such an easy, almost fool-proof cake, I made a big blunder when I first baked it.
I have since named this My "Black Beauty". Look at the beautiful golden hue on the sides...and yet the top was charcoal black?! I couldn't even bring myself to post the top plan-view of this cake, for fear of creating "eye pollution" to you, my dear reader ;')
I had made a serious mistake of leaving the cake in the oven, and, not returning to check on it until I spotted a slight burning smell coming from my kitchen. Even though it was only half-way through the baking time, the top was almost burnt. It was too late to do anything, the only thing I could do was to tent the top with a foil and left it to finishing up baking.
Even dusting it generously with icing sugar couldn't cover up the flaws! But, the cake tasted good, very good indeed, just look at the crumb:
I have used a smaller pan the first time I made this cake, as a result, the cake was much taller than this latest version...
This was baked using a 20cm pan as recommended by the recipe, the cake was quite flat upon cooling, making it looked almost like a sponge layer. The cake was nicely browned this time as I covered the top with foil once the surface started to brown. The cake is excellent, it is deliciously moist, very fragrant and I could even taste the bits of ground almond in the crumb. The flaked almonds makes the texture even more interesting. A piece of this goes so well with a cup of afternoon tea, or anytime of the day. Plus, I won't be hesitant to bake this to give away anytime.
French Almond Cake
(makes one 8" cake)
110g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and leave to soften
150g caster sugar (I cut down to 120g)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
90g ground almonds (almond powder)
40g self-raising flour**
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon flaked almonds for sprinkling
some icing sugar for dusting
** if you do not have self-raising flour, substitute with:
40g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt
- Pre-heat oven at 180degC. Grease (with butter) and flour the sides of a 20cm pan, line the base with parchment paper, set aside.
- Place butter, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl, add almond powder, flour, milk, vanilla extract (optional) then beat with an electric mixer or whisk. When quite light and fluffy, spoon into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top.
- Bake at 180degC for 30-35mins, or until the sponge just springs back when pressed (mine took 40mins), or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Important Note: Cover the top with foil about 15-20mins into baking to prevent the top from over browning.)
- Run a thin bladed knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Recipe source: adapted from Easy Cakes by Linda Collister