The summer is squeezing out its last little bit of fun today, and I find myself thinking of its highlights – a trip to New York, visits with Lily’s Grandparents, and long afternoons of Nats games on the couch after a morning at the Farmer’s Market come to mind. July’s Kitchen Surfing dinner also tops the list. As I pull out my Fall sweaters and get ready for a change in weather (hopefully, right..?) I think back to the broiling heat at our commercial kitchen the day I rolled out 120 ravioli with Lily “supervising” from the Baby Bjorn.
Here’s the last of the recipes from that day – It’s a slight adaptation of Thomas Keller’s almond cake recipe. I first came across this cake (in his Bouchon cook book) several years ago when I was experimenting with various ways to use rhubarb. The original recipe calls for a strawberry-rhubarb compote, but what I’ve learned since is that this recipe is nearly foolproof and very adaptable.
I wanted to incorporate the flavor of Bergamot into the evening somehow because the majority of the world’s supply of the stuff comes from Calabria – the muse of my menu. I knew the affable almond cake would pair well with a floral, citrusy bergamot flavor, so I substituted Earl Grey for Amaretto and used a bit of bergamot extract where there was once vanilla. The result is a moist, rich cake with a bouquet of smells and flavors, complimented here by a dollop of a citrus-mascarpone cream and some crunchy toasted almonds.
Almond Bergamot Cake
7 ounces almond paste
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons brewed Earl Grey tea, plus additional for brushing
2 teaspoons Bergamot extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Confectioners’ sugar (very optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8″ springform pan, and cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom of the pan.
In a freestanding mixer, cream almond paste, butter, and sugar until you have a light, white creamy consistency. Add honey and orange zest, and then add one egg at a time with the mixer running. Add tea, bergamot, and flour and a pinch of salt, and mix just to combine.
Using a rubber spatula, pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake on a sheet tray for about 25 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. To serve, brush with additional Earl Grey, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and top with almonds and the following…
Citrus Mascarpone Cream
2 tablespoons Orange Zest
1 tablespoon Confectioner’s Sugar
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Mascarpone
Whip the sugar and cream together vigorously until it starts to resemble whipped cream. Add zest and mascarpone and continue whipping until the proper consistency is achieved – Keep an eye on the mixture if you’re doing this in a mixer to avoid over-whipping.
Serve with sweet things.
(PS – True Story, I forgot the sliced almonds the night of the Kitchen Surfing dinner. MISE EN PLACE, PEOPLE. JEEZ.)