Friday, July 24, 2015

Almond Cake with Peaches & Cream

If you’re in the mood for a pastry project involving cake, whipped cream, almonds and fresh peaches, consider this one.  The ingredients aren’t particularly fancy, it’s just assembled as a stacked cake and garnished for a more interesting presentation.

It starts with a simple almond cake made with all the basic ingredients and a bit of ground toasted almonds.  It’s a thin layer baked in a 9” square pan and then sliced in half to form two oblong pieces.  The pieces get stacked with whipped cream and sliced peaches glazed in honey lemon syrup.  Then the sides of the cake are slathered with whipped cream and garnished with toasted almonds.  It’s not very complicated but it does take some time to complete. 

Peaches are so delicious right now, I hope you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy them in a multitude of ways.  This cake is just one more way to make this lovely summer last.

Bench notes:
- I like to use sliced rather than whole almonds for cakes because they'll grind finer in a food processor. You'll need a total of 1 cup (3 oz) for this recipe.
- I used blanched sliced almonds for the cake and unblanched for the garnish.  But you can use unblanched for both if you don’t mind the brown speckles in your cake.
- To toast sliced almonds, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.  Watch them closely as they will burn quickly.
- Let peaches ripen at room temperature. You should be able to smell their fragrance.  I used one large peach or use 2 medium ones.
- What's the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream?  Heavy cream contains 36% milk fat; whipping cream has 30%.  For finishing a cake like this, use heavy cream because it whips up with a stronger loft and will hold its shape longer than whipping cream without weeping.  Cream whips best when it's very cold.  If you have space, set your mixing bowl and whisk tool in the refrigerator to chill. 
- Give whipped cream just a few strokes with a whisk after it's been sitting in the refrigerator to refresh its texture.
- I cut a piece of cardboard just about 1/4" under the size of the cake and built the cake on that.  That way I could lift it easily and hold it in my hand to apply the whipped cream.  But that's just how I work.  You may find it easier to work with the cake placed on a platter.  And no need to worry getting the whipped cream to look perfect.  It will be covered with the almond slices.
- Cakes begin to dry out once you cut into them so don't trim the cake until you're ready to assemble.
- Chilling the cake allows the whipped cream to firm up before you apply the almond garnish and final touches.
- Use any remaining peach slices and honey lemon syrup to either garnish your plated servings or to spoon over yogurt or ice cream.
- For more information about using ground almonds in baking, see Almond Flour FAQs from David Lebovitz.
- If you have some almond paste, try this delicious Brown Butter Almond Cake for even more almond flavor.  There's also the simpler Brown Sugar Cake with Peaches and Cream.  And if you love chocolate and almonds together, there's this celebratory Chocolate Almond Raspberry Cake.  

Almond Cake with Peaches & Cream
Serves 6

1 cup (5 oz) flour                                                                 
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) toasted sliced almonds                    
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder                                     
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                               
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) canola oil
2 tablespoons (1 oz) olive oil
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar                                                    
2 large eggs @ room temperature                                 
1 teaspoon vanilla                                                              
1/4 teaspoon almond extract                                           
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature                       

1/4 cup (2 oz) mild honey
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, to taste
1 large (11 oz) fresh ripe peach

1 1/4 cups (10 oz) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) toasted sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9” square pan and line with parchment, leaving an overhang of an inch or so along two sides of the pan.  

For the cake batter, place the flour, 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the almonds are finely ground.  Set aside.

Whisk together the oils, sugar and eggs, mixing until thoroughly combined.  Add vanilla and almond extracts and blend.  Add a third of the flour mixture alternately with half the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly into the corners.

Bake until a toothpick tests clean, about 23 – 25 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Remove the cake, using the parchment to assist.  Invert the cake and carefully remove the parchment.  Cool completely.

For the peaches, combine the honey and water in a saucepan and simmer to dissolve.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.  Cut the peaches into 1/2" slices and place them in the honey syrup as you go to prevent browning.  Set aside, spooning the syrup over the fruit every now and then to coat. 

Whip the cold heavy cream, sugar and vanilla and almond extracts to a medium soft peak.  Chill until ready to use.

To assemble, use a serrated knife to slice the cake in two equal oblong pieces.  Place one of them on a cake board or platter.   Brush with some of the peach syrup.  Spread about a 1/4” thick layer of whipped cream across the surface, leaving a small border on all sides.  Line the center with peach slices.  Place the other half of the cake on top and press down gently to secure.  Brush the top of the cake with some of the peach syrup. 

Spread the whipped cream around the sides of the cake, leaving enough to pipe a border on top of the cake after it's been chilled.  Line the center top of the cake with peach slices.  Chill the cake along with the remaining whipped cream for about 1 hour.

When the cake has chilled, gently press the remaining 1/2 cup toasted almond slices into the sides of the cake.  Pipe the remaining cream around the exposed areas along the top of the cake.  Chill until ready to serve.


Unknown said...

What a beautiful cake!! I so dearly would love to make this, but I have one question: I don't own a food processor, so would it be acceptable to replace the almonds in the cake with equal weight of almond flour, and sift with the dry ingredients instead? Thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful recipes :)

pastry studio said...

You're most welcome and thank you. Yes, you can use almond flour sifted in with the dry ingredients. 1 cup of sliced almonds = 3 oz and 1 cup of almond flour = 3 3/8 oz, so there shouldn't be too much of a drastic effect. Have fun and I hope you enjoy the cake!

pastry studio said...

Just to clarify, I speaking above in general terms. You only need 1/2 cup almond flour.