Monday, March 24, 2008

Almond Cake

Almond Tea Cake

Back when I was taking organic chem lab in college, we were assigned a "mystery compound" to identify by conducting various tests like finding the boiling temperature, melting temperature, NMR peaks etc. After going through all of the experiments, I was pretty confident I knew what my compound was, but to double check, I did something that you should never, ever do in ochem - I smelled it. The basic no-brainer rules of ochem lab are don't eat, sniff, touch (ie. rub all over your body), mix together unknown chemicals. I was pretty sure my compound was benzaldehyde, aka synthetic almond extract. So when the TA wasn't looking, I gave my "mystery component" a quick sniff test. Mmm... smelled good. Turns out, I was right, it was benzaldehyde, and I got an A+ in the class. But shh... don't tell anyone and don't do what I did since it's definitely not a good idea smelling unknown chemicals.

I have already professed my love for the smell of almond extract and this cake, one of my favorites, uses plenty of it. This triple almond cake has ground almonds and almond extract in the batter and sliced almonds on top. Cakes made with oil taste more moist at room temperature than all butter cakes (butter being solid and oil being liquid at room temp), but butter cakes have superior flavor, so I used a combination of both. If you plan on serving this cake warm, feel free to use all butter.

Almond Tea Cake
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C finely ground almonds/almond meal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C sugar
2 egg
1 1/4 C buttermilk
1/4 C oil
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp almond extract
1/3 C almond slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour or spray with nonstick spray a baking pan (tube and round pans will both work, bundt pan can also be used but since the cake will be flipped upside down, skip the almond slices decoration).

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almond, baking powder, salt.

In separate bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until the eggs are beaten, whisk in the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, almond extract. Pour this into the dry ingredients and fold until the batter is mixed and there are no streaks of flour.

Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan. Spread almond slices on top of the butter (skip this step if you are using a bundt pan). Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 - 30 minutes* or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

*note: I forgot to write down how long I baked the cake for so this is just a ballpark figure. I think it was closer to 30 minutes but check early so you don't overbake.

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