Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Nigella's Easy Almond Cake

With Mother's Day upon us, I wanted to do something nice for the Mum's, and in my world at least, you can't get much nicer than cake! My 'brief' for Gary's Mum was 'Almonds', so I set about searching the world wide web for some ideas and inspirations. In the end, Nigella's 'Easy Almond Cake' caught my eye, not necessarily for the 'easy' part, but because the recipe calls for 250 grams of marzipan beaten into the cake batter - I was very intrigued to see how that even worked, let alone how the cake would taste... 

This recipe was, as it says in the title, very easy. Nigella's method is basically to add the ingredients one at a time into a food processor. As I am not yet lucky enough to own one (quick plea here to the Gods of Kitchen Aid...) I have adapted the method here to make this cake without the use of a processor. This recipe make a rich, moist cake, which is very buttery at first taste, and then the almond-y marzipan taste kicks in a few seconds later, and takes over your taste-buds. 

The cake would be completely delicious served straight up as it comes, with just a sprinkle of icing sugar on top, and a handful of fresh raspberries, however, as this was a Mother's Day cake, I wanted more of a statement. To complete the cake, I made some homemade almond praline, which I used to make an almond praline buttercream filling, and the cake was decorated with pale green buttercream roses, and colourful butterflies. The finished cake was definitely an almond lover's dream!

Almond Cake with Almond Praline Buttercream
Ingredients

For the cake;
  • 250 grams marzipan
  • 250 grams butter
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond essence
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 150 grams self-raising flour
For the almond praline;
  • 100 grams blanched whole almonds
  • 100 grams caster sugar
For the almond praline buttercream
  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 150 grams softened un-salted butter
  • 4 heaped teaspoons ground almond praline
For the pale green buttercream roses;
  • 250 grams icing sugar
  • 250 grams softened un-salted butter
  • Sugarflair food coloring gel in Gooseberry
Method

Forgive me here - I haven't taken as many photos of the process as I normally do as I had a hundred plates spinning! And remember, this is my method from not owning a food processor, if you are lucky enough to possess one, check out the link above for Nigella's all-in method. 

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees, and grease an 8 inch round cake tin. 

Chop the marzipan into small cubes, and then blitz in a food processor to a fine crumb consistency. As I don't own one, I used my little mini food chopper I bought for £5 from Tesco to break down the marzipan. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the broken down marzipan, and beat well with an electric whisk until well combined with the butter and sugar. 

Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and beat well again. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking the mixture well between each egg. 

Finally, add the flour, and fold into the mixture with a spatula until fully combined, then transfer the mixture into the prepared tin, and place in the bottom shelf of the oven. 

Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out cleanish. Because the cake is so moist, the skewer will come out quite wet, but as long as there are no clumps of uncooked batter on it it will be cooked. As the cake is quite a long bake, I turned my oven down to 150 degrees part way through to prevent the top and sides from burning. 

For the Praline Buttercream and Decoration


To make the praline, place the whole almonds and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan or frying pan, and place over a low heat until the sugar starts to melt. Keep stirring with a metal spoon, so that the almonds get well coated with the caramelising sugar. Once the sugar is melted, turn the heat up slightly, and cook until the mixture turns a deep chestnut brown colour. Tip the mixture out onto a lightly greased sheet of baking parchment, and set aside to cool and set. 


Once the praline is set, break off some pieces, and put them into a processor or blender. Blitz until they are ground into a fine powder. 


To make up the praline buttercream, chop the softened butter into small cubes and put into a large bowl. Add the icing sugar in two stages, mixing well each time. Add four heaped teaspoons full of the ground almond praline (or more or less to suit tastes) and mix it through the buttercream until evenly distributed. 

To make up the pale green buttercream, chop the softened butter into small cubes and put into a large bowl. Add the icing sugar in two stages, mixing well each time. Add a small amount of the Gooseberry food colouring using a cocktail stick, and beat through until you achieve an even colour. 

To Assemble

Take the cooled cake, and with a serrated bread knife levelled off the top of the cake. Then cut the cake horizontally to make two layers. The best way to do this is to place the cake on a turntable, and make a small incision into the cake all the way around, to make sure that the cut is level throughout, then go back and cut right through to the centre of the cake. 

Dollop a small amount of buttercream onto a cakeboard or plate (to prevent the cake from sliding) and then place the bottom layer onto the board. 


Add the praline buttercream, and spread evenly across the cake.


Place the top layer on the cake. (Mine looks a little burnt here, but this photo was taken at 1am and it was a bit dark in my kitchen!)


Take a large piping bag, and use a large open star nozzle. Fill the bag with the pale green buttercream. Starting from the centre of the cake, pipe roses by applying an even pressure to the piping bag, and spiralling outwards from the centre. Make the roses all different sizes, and make sure that all of the surface of the cake has been covered. 


Allow the buttercream to set and harden, preferably overnight, then add the butterfly decorations (or you could use little blossoms, or anything you fancy really). Leaving the buttercream to set should prevent the moisture in the cream from softening your decorations, but you might need a little royal icing to fix them into place. 

And voila! A beautiful springtime cake, perfect for Mother's Day or any other spring occasion, and a real easy to make, but deceptively detailed showstopper of a cake! 

What cakes and bakes are you all making for your Mums this Mother's Day? Would love to hear/ see what you have made... V x



I am entering this post into this month's Forever Nigella, hosted this month by Jen over at Blue Kitchen Bakes, and coordinated by Sarah at Maison Cupcake. The theme for Forever Nigella #24 is 'Easter' and as this cake has a pretty springtime decoration, and the almond and marzipan flavouring is so similar to a traditional Easter Simnel Cake I think it fits perfectly.


14 comments:

  1. This sounds like a cake my Mum would love. I won't get chance to see her tomorrow for Mother's Day but this could very well be a contender for her 50th birthday cake in a couple of months time.

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    1. It's definitely worth a go! I couldn't believe that it had a whole block of marzipan, 6 eggs, and only 150g of flour in it but it really works! xx

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  2. That is one gorgeous cake Victoria! how did you find the piping? I always thought It would be tricky to gage where to begin the rose and have it end on the cake.
    I just put up the Eclairs post up if you wanna see how they turned out....yours looked better!

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    1. Thanks! Um, I don't think I consciously started the roses in any way, just did different sizes and if there wasn't room for a full one somewhere then I just piped a little splodge in to fill the gap :-) my nozzle isn't quite right though, I think I need a 5 point star nozzle to make the 'petals' more pronounced ...
      Heading over to check out your eclairs right now!

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    2. I use milton 1M star nozzel...has 6 points...they come out nice and defined.
      saw your comment....you'll know a bit more when i finish my Versatile blogger post...i'm still drafting it :)

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  3. Looks gorgeous! Very nice piping!

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  4. Your cake looks AMAZING. I love this cake - I make it in a tube tin, rather than as one big cake. It lasts really well (not that it ever needs to and seems to go on and on!

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    1. Thanks! The almond praline buttercream gives is a really nutty edge too, but I think it would work equally well as a plain cake. :-) x

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  5. This sounds delicious! The buttercream sounds interesting, I will have to give it a go sometime. Hope to see you in this month's Forever Nigella.

    http://agirlinherkitchen.blogspot.com/2013/04/forever-nigella-colourful.html

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! Any praline buttercream is really good, it makes a great unusual flavour and is soooo easy when you know how! Hopefully will get an entry in for this month ;-)

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  6. This looks like such a gorgeous cake, I love the idea of the praline buttercream. Are the roses tricky? I've never done them myself but they always look really impressive.

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    1. Hi there, not really tricky at all, you need a star nozzle on your piping bag, and you swirl from the inside out to make the shape. The only real tip is to make sure that you have beaten your buttercream really well, so that it is totally smooth and has no bubbles in it, otherwise you won't get an even flow when you pipe and it will lose the effect.

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