Friday, April 8, 2011

Almond Buckwheat Berry Cakes

These little snack cakes are made essentially from ground almonds and a bit of the unique flavor of buckwheat flour. Although buckwheat is fairly uncommon in the American diet, it was one of the earliest crops introduced to the United States by Europeans. Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb. Since it contains no wheat, it's suitable for gluten free diets. It's one of the best sources of plant protein and is rich in magnesium and antioxidants. The buckwheat flower is also a bee magnet and produces great dark honey.

I was introduced to buckwheat when I was a college student and lived across the street from a breakfast diner that served buckwheat pancakes. Every now and then my friends and I would meet there and I could never resist ordering that short stack of buckwheat pancakes. They were so fresh and delicious I had no interest in any of the other stuff on the menu. I enjoyed them tremendously with just a dab of fresh berry compote.

These little cakes are a way of bringing back that delicious memory. Making them was also a way for me to take a jar of homemade blackberry preserves from my pantry and savor a little prelude to spring. The cakes are moist and tender little treats with an earthy flavor and a very satisfying chewiness. I think the dollop of tart blackberry is the perfect consort.

Bench notes:
- You're likely to find buckwheat flour in the bulk items section of your market. It should be bought in small quantities and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before using.
- Toast almonds by spreading them out on a baking sheet and placing them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
- Be sure to use good quality blackberry or raspberry preserves that do not contain sugar.
- I’ve tried this recipe with hazelnuts but the flavors really didn’t work for me.
- You can also make this as a 9” cake. Instructions for that are included below.

Almond Buckwheat Berry Cakes
Makes 16 small cakes or one 9" cake

6 oz butter @ room temperature
3/4 C sugar, divided
2 t vanilla
4 eggs @ room temperature
1 1/2 C (6 oz) almonds, toasted
1/2 C buckwheat flour
1/4 t salt

1/3 C blackberry or raspberry 100% fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two standard muffin pans or one 9” cake pan. Line the 9” cake pan with parchment.

Place the almonds, buckwheat flour and salt in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground. Pour into a bowl.

Separate the egg yolks and the egg whites.

Beat the butter and 1/2 C sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks one at a time and mix until each is thoroughly blended. Scrape down the bowl. Add vanilla and combine.

Add the almond buckwheat ingredients and mix just until it starts to come together. Take off the mixer and finish mixing by hand. The batter will be very thick.

Whip the egg whites until foamy and opaque. Slowly add 1/4 C sugar a little bit at a time and continue beating until they hold a glossy peak that is stiff but still has some lilt.

Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter to loosen it. Fold in another 1/3 of the whites in the same manner. Fold in the last 1/3 a bit more gently.

Scoop the batter into 16 of the muffin pans. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of preserves into each one. Bake for about 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted tests clean. Cool 10 minutes, then using a small knife to loosen the edges, release the cakes and place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

If you’re making a 9” cake, bake for about 28 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted tests clean. Cool 10 minutes, then invert the cake. Remove the parchment and turn right side up. Place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Slice the cake into two layers. Spread the bottom layer with the preserves. Place the other half on top of the preserves and press down gently to secure. Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar.


Elly McCausland said...

These look delicious - I love the combination of wholemeal and other more nutty-flavoured flours with sharp fruits, especially berries. In fact, I think I prefer them to normal flour. The buckwheat pancakes you mention have me salivating a little bit at the thought...

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Elly. You have a beautiful blog!

Christine Covert said...

Apparently there is a secret club of buckwheat lovers. I often use it in all bread recipes and love ployes pancakes. This muffin looks so good I think I know what's for breakfast.

Thanks, ps.
All Best,

Ben David said...

Great timing!
This is easily adapted for Passover, when Jews can't eat traditional flour-based leavened cakes.

There are a lot of traditional recipes for similar cakes based on ground nuts and egg leavening.

pastry studio said...

Thanks for the note about being adaptable for Passover. I should also note that I think these taste better the next day!

Barbara said...

I've got buckwheat flour in my fridge! I use it to make my grandfather's buckwheat pancakes. Love discovering another use for it.
If the almonds have to be ground, will almond flour do or is it the toasting that's important?

pastry studio said...

SO glad to see other buckwheat fans!

Barbara, using almonds that are toasted and freshly ground really make a difference to both the texture and the taste. Hope you have a chance to enjoy these.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for posting this recipe. They look delicious. Would this recipe work if i use whole-wheat flour?

pastry studio said...

Nancy, I haven't tested it with whole wheat flour but I don't see why it wouldn't work. It will have a different flavor but should work. Please let me know if you try it!

Unknown said...

I tried it. They were great! I also substituted the raspberry jam with my home-made tart plum jam. The almond taste and the cake texture reminded me with financiers.

pastry studio said...

Oh, that's great Nancy! And I love plum jam so I imagine they were delicious. And yes, they also remind me of financiers.

Thanks for your feedback!

Bryan said...

these were great! i would definitely make these again.
always looking for ways to use my buckwheat flour.

after testing cherry-vanilla jam, huckleberry, and plum, like Nancy, plum jam was definitely my favorite pairing. there may have been some cardamom involved, i dont remember.

love the flavor of the buckwheat. great with almonds. though i dont think i toasted them long enough.

now i need to look for good black berries to make jam!

pastry studio said...

Hey, Bryan! They are little gems, aren't they? Love the idea of using different jams. And plum with a little hint of cardamom.....sigh!

Hillary said...

OK Pastry Studio: this cake was perfection. You are making me look so good! My dinner guests were blissed out and I realized how often people deprive themselves of a really great ending to a meal. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other jams recommended by your readers. I have a grape jam experiment that might finally have found a home.

pastry studio said...

YAY for making Hillary look good!! Grape jam experiment sounds very intriguing......

Eugenia Bell said...

What quantity of ground almond do you want to end up with? I have some pre-ground from another recipe I did last week and I'd like to use that up.
Thanks—can't wait to try!

pastry studio said...

Eugenia, if you don't have a scale, then I think you want to get as near to about 1 1/3 C of ground almonds as possible.

Sara said...

late to the party, new to your site. It's wonderful. So varied, each a jewel. thank you.

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Sara, and welcome! Hope you find something delicious to enjoy.

Two Trays Kitchen said...

Hi, late in the coming on this but wondering if I could use almond flour (fine ground Honeyville brand) in place of the almond grounds.

pastry studio said...

Yes, you can use ground almond flour.
Try about 1 1/3 C.