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.


babe in the kitchen said...

your cake is so pretty :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

This looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

Engineer Baker said...

Haha, in ochem in college, we were told to smell, or rather "waft," our chemicals so that we could tell what they were. It was the first way I knew to distinguish ethers from esters from alcohols :-P Either way, the cake looks amazing!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm not a fan of things that are overwhelmingly almond, but this cake looks so beautiful that I'm tempted to try it. One of the nice things about being a non-science major in college was that I didn't have to do ochem. I suffered through my daughter taking it twice, though.

Melanie said...

This cake looks wonderful! It just my style of dessert, especially because I love almond flavor.

furiousBall said...

that's a cake, you can't fool me

Amy said...

Mrs. J,
Thank you!


Engineer baker,
Lol ah... ochem lab...

You can decrease the almond extract to 1/2 or 1 tsp so it's less almondy. :) Oh gosh I had a whole year of ochem, soooo glad that's long over.

I just love almond flavored desserts too.

Lol, but they say baking is like science lab right?

Lilly said...

your photos are always so beautiful - how on earth do you do it?

Anonymous said...

Your cake is just beautiful! I love the photograph. And the triple almond combo seems like such a winner! Wow! Gorgeous!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amy, that is a gorgeous cake! I'm a sucker for almonds...

Cheryl said...

I also have this extreme love of the smell of almond extract. I can tell it from a hundred miles away. This cake is just perfect.

Katie said...

Ohhh yum the cake looks divine. I too adore the aroma of almond extract, marzipan and amreretto...mmmm it just makes me swoon. My kinda cake

Amy said...

Aw I'm so flattered! A little luck hoping my point-and-shoot focuses on where I want it to and some photo manipulation afterwards. :)

Thank you!

Me too! They're so versatile!

*high5* It smells goooood! Tastes good too. :)

Oh I love marizpan and amaretto! A little amaretto in a cappuccino, pure bliss.

LyB said...

That is a great story! I loved chemistry, wasn't actually good at it though... Anyway, I also love almonds, that cake looks delicious!

Dana said...

I know you posted this a while back, but I just had to comment! It looks delicious -- I'm a HUGE fan of almond flavor. And I, too, did the "identify the mystery chemical" assignment in organic chemistry! But I don't think mine smelled so good ;-).


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