13 January, 2013

French Almond Cake

Brace yourself.

This. is. so freaking good.  
I made this and brought half to work and left half at home for the Boyfriend. At work they gobbled them up, in between bites I was hearing 'so good' 'open.. bakery...' 'recipe!' 

When I got home, of the 9 or so pieces I left behind, there were 2 left.  The Boyfriend- 'I would've ate them all but I figured you might want some.'  

And so I gobbled them up.
I'm really proud of this recipe.  I love French Almond Cake.  It's just perfectly sophisticated and it's not really a cake in that I can eat it for breakfast. If any survived the night anyways. 

I'm proud because this is the first recipe that I experimented with so completely that I had to do several tests- making small batches and baking the muffin tins one at a time to see what worked best.  It took me all day, and it turned out better than I would have imagined.
The cake is fluffy, almost a angel food cake texture.  It's light and airy with a warm almond flavor. The absolute perfect cake to serve with brunch, with coffee or tea, or as a sophisticated dessert to your dinner.  In fact, add some strawberries and cream and it would work well as strawberry shortcake. 
I'm proud also because this recipe is gluten-free.  That's right.  A gluten free cake that got gobbled up so quickly by gluten lovers and gluten haters alike. Can you believe it?
I've talked a little about gluten on my blog, though not too much.  Those people who have tried gluten free baked goods know that sometimes they can be dense and heavy, though these days people are having increasing success as we understand the chemistry behind baking without gluten. And there's an increasing number of gluten-free flour mixes available in supermarkets, which I have used and I do suggest using.  They work really well.

Gluten is what makes dough 'dough-y'.  When a pizza maker tosses a pizza in the air and it stretches all over the place- that is due to the elastic bonds formed by gluten.  That's why gluten free breads can be hard and crumbly- gluten free flours can't quite achieve the same 'stretch.'

In baking, gluten is what makes the dough rise. Adding protein can help- I used whipped egg whites, and it worked wonderfully.

I particularly love this recipe since it can be made for a gluten-eating crowd and no one will notice it's gluten free. In fact, they'll probably compliment you, ask for the recipe, and then their eyes will bug out when they realize :)

If you are making this because you do have a gluten allergy or are making it for someone with an allergy, beware of cross-contamination.  Put away anything that contains flour.  Don't make yourself a sandwich in the middle of the recipe, or make this recipe at the same time as you are making another cake.  Put away all flour-containing items- flour (duh), bread, crackers, cookies, etc. 

Make sure you are using the clean-est mixing bowls and spatulas.  Make sure you clean your counter thoroughly   Using a mixer?  Make sure you clean the entire mixer, as flour particles may be stuck to the top of your mixer.  This recipe does not call for a sifter, but never use a sifter you have used with regular flour for a gluten free recipe.  It's virtually impossible to remove the flour completely.  Do not store your gluten-free cake where it can touch gluten containing items.  Make sure it's in it's own separate container.

I may be sounding a little dramatic here.. just be aware, use clean items, and everything will be fine. 

And without further ado: 

French Almond Cake

1 cup Almond Flour
1/2 cup White Rice Flour
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
8 egg whites, at room temp
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
pinch of salt
1/4 cup turbino sugar, muscovato sugar, or sugar in the raw 
sliced almonds (optional decoration)

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9' by 9' baking pan, a 9' round baking pan, or a cheesecake pan.

In a large bowl, mix the two flours, sugar and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, add the egg whites. Use a mixer or beat by hand until egg whites are foamy.  Add in the butter, almond extract and vanilla extract quickly.  Using a rubber spatula, gradually pour the eggs into the flour mixture, ever so gently folding it in to combine.  Do not use a spoon and do not stir.  Just gently keep folding with the spatula until the egg is mixed is, and it looks like a light fluffy dough.  

Pour into your prepared baking sheet.  If decorating with almonds as I did, you'll have to kind of plan where you'll be cutting slices, and decorate the top or each one.  After placing almonds on cake, sprinkle the whole thing with turbino sugar- it'll give it a nice color and a just a bit of sweet crunch on the top.

Bake about 30 minutes, until edges are just beginning to turn a golden color and cake is set. Cool on wire rack.  
Do not attempt to cut until cool.  Use a sharp knife (I used a paring knife).  Enjoy!!

1 comment: