My belated Christmas wishes to you! Just back from an ad hoc trip to the very beautiful and picturesque South Canara. Coffee and tea estates, the winding roads along the foggy Western ghats and the beautiful ancient temples brought back memories of my visit to these places as a kid. As my amused niece pointed out, most of the incidents I recalled had something to do with food. Not surprisingly, I happen to write a food blog.
I was still debating about what I would bake for Christmas when my older sister called to announce that we would all go on a trip very early the next morning. Which meant we would need to reach her place by evening so that we could start early. With the school closed for Christmas vacations, baking, taking pictures and blogging about it is a hair-tearing experience for me. Living in a tornado-swept house (well, a house which looks like one), my daughter constantly hovering around me or my kids at loggerheads with each other and me in a rush to pack up for an ad hoc trip is not the best of times to bake a cake for Christmas.
My personal copy of The Cake Bible arrived a few days ago. What a book to own with all those drool worthy cakes, the variety of frostings and cakes you can pair up to come up with your own unique creation, tips and understanding about the way things work in a particular recipe and so much more! I decided on this quick and easy cake which is delicious on its own without any frosting. The cake is super buttery, super moist, with a predominant almond taste and flavor. If you love buttery cakes and something you would want to make ahead for a picnic the next day, this one is for you to bake!
Recipe from The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Eggs - 2, large (100 grams, without shells)
Yogurt - 2/3 cup (original recipe has sour cream)
Almond extract - 1 teaspoon (refer note)
Vanilla essence / vanilla extract - 1/4 teaspoon
Sifted Cake flour - 1 2/3 cup (refer note below)
Unblanched, sliced, lightly toasted almonds, finely ground - 1/3 cup (ground)
Sugar - 1 Cup
Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking soda -1/2 teaspoon
Salt 1/2 teaspoon ( I skipped this)
Unsalted butter, very soft - 12 tablespoons (approx 3/4 cup / 170 grams)
Note: Cake Flour : I made cake flour at home. I have measured out a cup of plain flour (scoop in the flour into the cup and level method), taken out 2 tablespoons of flour, added 2 tablespoons cornflour. This makes one cup of cake flour. I have made two cups of cake flour, sifted it 5-6 times and then measured out 1 2/3 cup of this. Sifting it a number of times helps the cornflour to get very well mixed with the plain flour.
Almond extract: I have used almond extract and not essence. I would not recommend using almond essence unless you have used it earlier and found it to be good. It can sometimes give out an extremely strong, undesirable overpowering smell and flavor , spoiling the cake. Even with 1 teaspoon extract, I would have liked the flavor a little more subtle and would next time use 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla perhaps.
Eggs: I weighed 2 smallish eggs without shells and was surprised to see it weighed 100 grams! I have put this note here as we normally assume that 3 small eggs can be used in the place of 2 large ones.
Procedure: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degree F. Grease, line and dust a 9'' round tin lightly with flour. Grease the parchment and dust lightly with flour again.
In a medium mixing bowl, lightly combine the eggs, extracts and 1/4 of the yogurt. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed (with a hand mixer) for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and the remaining yogurt. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to high speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.
Gradually, add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. This helps incorporate the ingredients and help strengthen the cake structure. Scrape down the sides. The batter will be quite thick.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smoothen the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the center of the cake springs back lightly when pressed. The cake should shrink away from the sides of the oven only after removal from the oven. I baked for 40 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack completely. The cake was almost flat on top. It was extremely tender and almost fragile to handle when I tried to transfer it from the tin to the rack. I so wanted to slice and eat it at that moment...
But of course, I had to stencil it and take the mandatory pics before I could take a bite. If you would like to know, I have taken a printout of a Christmas tree (on a friend's suggestion, you know who you are!), cut out the outline, placed it on the cake along with the star cut outs. Have placed M&Ms in place of the lights. Dusted powdered sugar generously with a large sieve. You need to be very careful when you lift the paper off the cake. Viola!! We have a Christmas tree on the cake! You could try out any design of course as long as you can cut out a well defined stencil. If artistically challenged like me, stick to straight lines:-)
This cake goes to my Blog Anniversary Event and I would be baking more from The Cake Bible to tempt you to send in your entries:-)). One lucky winner gets a copy of the book. Thanks to everyone who have sent in their entries. If I have not responded to your recent entry, its because I have been away, I shall respond as early as possible.
This cake is on its way to Champa's Bake - Off.