Happy Birthday to me.
Today is my grand 27th birthday. I celebrated by making this cake, and then watching a horrible, horrible guilty-pleasure teen movie while I ate a slice. I can’t even tell you which movie it is, I’m so embarrassed. I also scheduled myself a dentist’s appointment for Monday afternoon and went grocery shopping. It was a good day, all things considered.
And Brad gave me my present. I know some of you probably hold the same fear I do when it comes to presents from your husband. Will it be a vacuum? Some lingerie that borders on trashy rather than sexy? Or worse, some new Xbox game that he really wanted for himself??? None of these situations have happened to me, but everyone has heard the stories. It’s like urban legends… but instead pf some girl who maybe got murdered in the university cafeteria, it’s your mother’s best friend’s niece’s step-sister who got A FREAKING VACUUM for her birthday and OH MY GOD HOW COULD HE??? (For the record, that would be before the Dyson came out. I think many women would be happy with a Dyson… because I know two friends who are drooling over them.)
Well, anyways, no vacuum for me. B has really been on the ball lately – for our anniversary he got me Ugg boots! which I would never ever buy myself – and he gifted me two boxes of Weck jars for my birthday. Some of you are probably all, WTF woman? You got canning jars for your birthday? What kind of weird urban homesteading freak are you? But I didn’t have any! And I really wanted some! So this was a great gift.
While normally I’m a chocolate freak, I had a big craving for almond cake today. Sometimes you just want that almond-y marzipan-y taste, you know? This cake was a real surprise. It’s tender and light, and
moist not dry at all. No reason for why I decided to make some salted caramel sauce to add on top, I just liked the juxtaposition of flavors. And the pears, I just added on because they were about to go bad, so I thought, heck, why not? Seems like a good way to start off my 28th year of life!
1 1/3 cups (265g) sugar
8 ounces (225g) almond paste
3/4, plus 1/4 cup (140g total) flour
1 cup (8 ounces, 225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup blanched almonds
sugared forelle pears, for serving
salted caramel sauce, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9- or 10-inch cake pan, dust with flour, and line the bottom of the pan with a round piece of parchment.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sugar, almond paste, and 1/4 cup (35g) of flour until the mixture looks like sand. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, vanilla, and almond extract to the food processor bowl, and process until batter is smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, waiting 5 seconds between each addition of egg to make sure the previous is well incorporated into the batter. Add half the flour mixture to the food processor bowl, pulse once to combine. Add remaining flour and pulse once or twice until the dry ingredients are just incorporated to the wet. Bake for 65 minutes, or until the middle of the cake appears firm to the touch and the cake is golden brown all over. Run a knife around the edge of the cake, and let cake cool completely in pan before turning over and sprinkling with blanched almonds.
Serve with sugared pears and salted caramel, if desired.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Yields 6 pears
1/2 cup beaten egg whites
1/4 cup sanding sugar
6 ripe forelle or seckel pears
Dip the pears into the beaten egg whites, then press gently into sanding sugar on all four sides. Let stand for 30 minutes to dry before eating. (Note: I used regular egg whites; use pasteurized egg white product if you are pregnant or are feeding this to young children.)
Salted Caramel Sauce
Basic recipe adapted from many places
Yields 1/2 cup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Heat the sugar in a dry skillet over medium heat until the sugar begins to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Whisk the sugar to help the sugar caramelize evenly. When the sugar is amber-colored, add the whipping cream in a slow stream, whisking to incorporate. Add salt. Continue whisking until the cream is fully incorporated and the caramel is thick.
Ra Ra Riot / Too Dramatic - I’m all about indulgence today with my delicious cake, terrible teen movies, and indie rock boys singing falsetto.