Almond Cake with Sugared Pears and Salted Caramel


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!



Almond Cake

Adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from Chez Panisse Desserts
Makes one 9- or- 10-inch cake


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.


Sugared Pears

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.



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28 thoughts on “Almond Cake with Sugared Pears and Salted Caramel

  1. I’d freak the f** out if I got some weck jars. I just can’t bring myself to spend the money of them, but ohhh man do I covet them.

    And don’t worry about the shameful movie thing. When my husband is at jujitsu class, sometimes I’ll watch Hellcats and skype with my 13-year old sister about what’s happening. I wouldn’t admit it to a soul. Well, except the entire internet now.

    Happy Birthday :D

  2. Happy Birthday!! And since you’re practically still a teen, I see no shame in watching teen movies. Hell, I’ve seen all three Twilight movies; one of which I actually PAID MONEY to see in a theatre. And I’m still alive to tell the tale.

    FWIW I asked my Mom for Weck jars for my birthday – you are not alone in the Weck-lust. She couldn’t figure out how to order them online (despite me sending her the exact link at Heath Ceramics), so instead she gave me a pink-and-green, frilly, excessively-patterned, tiny, cotton-so-light-I-would-worry-about-setting-it-on-fire-if-I-were-ever-going-to-actually-wear-the-godawful-ugly-thing apron. Boy, was I excited.

    p.s. I have never owned, nor worn, an apron.
    p.p.s. If I did ever get the urge to wear an apron, it would probably be plain white cotton canvas.
    p.p.p.s. I’m not *sure* but I think she bought this “apron” at Victoria’s Secret.
    p.p.p.p.s. Even my husband thinks it’s ugly.
    p.p.p.p.p.s. Beautiful job on that cake, BTW.

    • Haha, I’m thinking it’s a good thing your mom is probably not a dutiful reader of this blog! That apron does seem like a poor substitute for weck jars. They’re so pretty, and practical, too. Not so much practicality on the apron, it sounds like!

      Thanks for the compliment on the cake, darling! It is definitely one of my prettier projects, I think. =)

  3. hahaha weck jars!??! That’s awesome! I’ve been drooling over a set of those since this summer (and a dyson for that matter).

    P.S. if it makes you feel better, my birthday was Tuesday and my husband got me a counter-top herb garden (not a cheesy chia pet I might add) so I can have fresh herbs throughout the winter.

  4. that cake looks fabulous! I think things like jars and vacuums are totally acceptable IF you asked for it. otherwise… meh… not so much. :) I insanely want to know what the movie is. Was it “Stick It?” I think it was.

  5. If the food on here is as yummy as it is gorgeous, well then, you are one talented lady.
    Happy 27. I started trying to get pregnant when I turned 27… took a while. I’m just sayin…..

  6. You got canning jars for your birthday??? ;-) It was so nice to meet you yesterday, what a nice lunch we had. And Happy Birthday. I c-a-n-n-o-t believe how beautiful this cake is. You are very talented. No go rent a Johnny Depp Movie. :-)

  7. ::GASP:: I MISSED YOUR BIRTHDAY POST! SADPANDA! Crappy friend, party of one?? I am sorry. :( But HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    and HOLY CRAP that looks good. Like REALLEH good!

    Props to Brad for being on a gifting roll! Tell him to email J for lessons. I’ve gotten a video game before. ::sigh::

    Now, you must tell me the movie. We can discuss in gchat. I’ll even take it “off the record”. Remember, we both have a crazy affection for bad dance movies.

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