Sunday, February 24, 2013

Almond, Honey, and Apricot cake

aka AHA!
I was bemoaning to Senor last week, the fact that I was craving cake but I had no need to make one until Easter when I'd already decided I would be making a scrumptious carrot cake. He promptly asked why I couldn't make one now. There was no reason to make one!  Better still, if I made the carrot cake now it wouldn't taste nearly as yummy at Easter (for a second time). He then asked, "If you could make an Amanda cake what would it be?".  I was stumped for a while. Then it came to me, "AHA!! An AHA cake!".  He looked stumped this time. I explained to him my vision. An almond, apricot and honey confection. It was spawn from this yogurt I'd eaten earlier in the day and I was in love from the first bite. This company also makes this flavor which I'd had previously and was equally impressed. My mind tried to mesh all the components together into a cake format. After I explained the idea to Senor I immediately began researching if such a thing existed. From my efforts I discovered ZERO such creations. So that was even more of a throw-down challenge to make this cake!  It was burning a hole in my brain. I researched each component and slowly created a lose idea of each component's recipe.

Stopped by the store to pick it all up and went home to start working. It was a bit scary putting in so much work (and butter!) not knowing if it'd turn out the way I imagined. It totally worked! My dad and Senor both voted it as "taste excellent" and "Unique flavor".

So if you're interested in a little something different, here's my recipe. This is for 3 9" cakes so adapt as needed for smaller batches. Also, the frosting was enough but really I could have stood to have more so if you want a nice heap of frosting on your cake make 1.5 times the recipe or double it.

The order of procedure I'd recommend: Make filling, then cakes, then frosting while cakes are cooling.

For the cake: I went straight to me favorite source for cakes...Sky High cakes. They didn't disappoint, although I do think the sugar could be cut back on this to 2 cups or maybe even 1 3/4 cups. It's really sweet, in my opinion, and I might even cut the almond extract down to 1.5 tsp. The almond flavor was almost too strong, almost. I also am curious if you could get away with a tad less butter as the cake is a cross between angel food and pound cake.  It's a tad too much to the pound cake side of things for me. And I'm curious about trying buttermilk instead of milk (I used 2% by the by...rebel, I know!). So those are my musings that I might tinker with next time.

4 1/2 cups cake flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup prepared almond paste (7 ounces)
2 2/3 cups sugar
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon almond extract
10 egg whites
1 1/2 cups whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch (but 9-inch will work just fine) round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3. Place the almond paste and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Begin to cream the mixture on low speed to break up the almond paste, then increase the speed to medium for about 2 minutes, or until the paste is broken into fine particles.
4. Add the butter and almond extract and beat it well, then the egg whites, two or three at a time, beating just long enough to incoperate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times to make sure it is evenly mixed.
5. Dust about a third of the dry ingredients over the batter and fold in with a large rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in about half the milk. Fold in half the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Finally, fold in the last of the dry ingredients just until no streaks of white remain. Use a light hand and do not overmix. Divide the batter among the three prepared cake pans.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out on to wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners and let them cool completely, about one hour.

7. Assemble the cake: Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand or serving plate. Slide small strips of waxed paper under the edges to protect the plate from any messiness accumulated while decorating. Pipe (using #12 tip or something similiar) a nice thick band of frosting around the perimeter of the top of the caketo create a little wall to keep your filling from spilling!  Then dump 1/3-1/2 cup of apricot filling into the middle of the cake top and smooth it out to the frosting edges using a flat spatula or knife.  Place the next cake layer on top (be sure to level it before hand if you need to)--and peel off the parchment paper if you forgot. Now repeat the steps of creating a frosting dam and then slathering on the filling. Place the top layer on. Now frost the entire cake! Yum. Decorate as desired. Refrigerate it until it's time to cut it! And keep it refrigerated when it's not being eaten. 

For the Filling:
I adapted 2 recipes to create this yummy tart filling. I liked this because it can be made from dried apricots, lucky for me since it's NOT apricot season and dried was my only option!

12 oz dried apricots, I would recommend chopping them coarsely
1 1/2 c water
1/3-1/2 c lemon juice (don't use any bottled stuff here...if you can use freshly squeezed! And no meyer want it to be TART!)
2-4 Tbsp honey

Allow the apricots and water to soak in a saucepan for 2 hours. After 2 hours, place the sauce pan and its contents on the stove. Bring the water and apricots to a simmer over low heat. Place a tight-fitting lid over the sauce pan and simmer for approximately 20 minutes--until the apricots are soft.

Place the apricots and water in a food processor. Add in 1/3 c lemon juice and 2 Tbsp honey. Process on low (with pulses of high) until desired consistency. Think thick baby food. If you want some chunks, fine. If not, keep going!  Adjust lemon juice and honey according to your taste preference. I wanted a very tart filling to "pop" against the cake flavor so I used 1/2 c lemon juice and about 3 Tbsp honey.

Once it's reached your desired consistency and flavor, pour it into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. 

For the frosting:
2 sticks of butter, cold
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup honey *
1/4 c full fat sour cream
1/4 c full fat heavy whipping cream **

*Tip: Spray your measuring cup with non stick cooking spray before you measure the honey, it will all pour out and leave zero mess to scrape out!
** I used whipping cream but I'm wondering about full-fat greek yogurt or just upping the sour cream to a full 1/2 cup

In a large mixing bowl (with a paddle attachment) soften the butter for a few minutes on low speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Gradually increase the speed until you have a thick paste consistency. Add in the honey and sour cream/cream, now mix on low until it's all incorporated and gradually increase speed until you achieve the desired whipped consistency. If you want thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar. 

Allow it to chill in the refrigerator for about 30 min before using it to frost the cake

1 comment:

Sara said...

Mmmm! This looks yummy! And I looove almond anything!

Also, I'd try buttermilk, if I were you. Buttermilk is always so good in cakes!