Archive for: almond meal
If any cake recipe could inspire you to bake cakes a little more often, it should be this one. This Almond Cake is an easy, low maintenance cake that needs no special preparation and tastes delicious even when it is served plain. The finished cake has a dense, pound cake-like consistency and a tight, tender crumb. It has a good almond flavor, which I enhance slightly by adding a bit of almond extract in addition to vanilla. It goes with everything from chocolate to berries to a simple sprinkling of powdered sugar, so once you add it to your repertoire, you can serve it any number of ways.
This cake is a variation of similar cakes that I have seen Jacques Pepin on his shows over the years. Like him, I mix this cake up in the food processor and it takes no time at all. I always have ground almonds/almond meal in my pantry, and if you do too you can mix this up in a bowl without a food processor, but the processor comes in handy when you only have whole almonds and need to grind them down into the flour mixture for the cake. I usually bake the cake in a single layer, but it can also be split and filled with fresh berries, whipped cream or a berry compote, like the one I made here.
I topped this cake of with an incredibly easy blueberry compote that I make in the microwave. It can also be made in a saucepan, but as long as you have a good sized microwave safe bowl, it is very easy to do in the microwave. I combine blueberries (fresh or frozen) with a small amount of cornstarch and some blueberry preserves. The preserves add just a touch of sweetness and help give the compote a nice, thick consistency. Raspberry preserves can also be used and you’ll still get a strong blueberry flavor. I simply add a scoop of the compote onto each slice of cake before serving, and keep the leftovers for topping waffles, pancakes and other cakes.
Ground almonds – also known as almond meal or almond flour – are a fairly common ingredient in many different types of recipes, from cookies, tarts and cakes to a wide variety of gluten free baked goods. It is also a popular choice for breading meats in place of, or in addition to, bread crumbs. Almond meal and almond flour both appear in ingredient lists – is there a difference between them?
Almond meal and almond flour are both finely ground almonds and there is no official difference between the two products. The terms can be used interchangeably. In practice, however, almond flour is often much more finely ground than almond meal is and has a more uniform consistency. Almond meal can be blanched (skins removed) or unblanched, while most products labeled almond flour are blanched. For most recipes, you can use almond meal or almond flour, regardless of which is specifically called for in a recipe and get good results. There are a few recipes out there, however, where you should take into account the consistency of the product you’re working with. French macarons are a good example, because most bakers will want the finest almond flour that they can find (usually blanched, as well) to get the smoothest looking finished macarons. People who use almond meal for breading often prefer a coarser consistency for a little more texture.
You can make your own almond meal by whizzing whole almonds in the food processor until finely ground. If you prefer a finer consistency to your ground almonds, you can sift your homemade almond meal a few times to remove any larger pieces of almond that you might not want in your finished product.
Vanilla and almond is a good combination in just about any dessert, so it should come as no surprise that a tart crust that combines those two flavors is a terrific basic tart crust recipe. This buttery Vanilla Almond Tart Crust has ground almonds and vanilla extract in it, and bakes up into a crisp and tender crust that can be used for all kinds of desserts. The recipe makes plenty of dough for a 9 or 10 inch tart pan, and can also be used for a number of smaller tarts, and it works well with both baked and unbaked tart fillings. It goes particularly well with chocolate fillings and fruit fillings, and I often use it as a base for my Strawberries and Cream Cheese Tart.
This tart dough comes together easily and is much less fussy than a pie crust can be. The dough has ground almonds in it and uses cake flour, which has less gluten in it than all purpose flour, to help produce a more tender crust. The cake flour should be measured by spooning it into your measuring cup, then sifting it into the rest of the tart ingredients. Cake flour can be clumpy if it is not sifted, but for this recipe it is not necessary to sift it before measuring it out.
This tart dough is very sticky, so it is important that you chill it well before using it. That stickiness also means that the dough will be crisp and tender after baking, not tough. I usually stick the dough into a gallon-sized plastic bag, press it into a flat layer and chill it thoroughly in the refrigerator or freezer (freezer is best if you need to chill your dough quickly). I then roll it out on a lightly floured surface and am ready to line my tart pans!
Pears are a wonderful fruit to bake with because they become tender very quickly and get even sweeter when they spend some time in the oven. The problem with pears is that they’re so tasty on their own, it’s often difficult to sacrifice a whole bunch of pears into one dessert – no matter how delicious. One of the reasons that I like to make these little pear upside down cakes is that you only need one pear to bake a whole batch of cakes, but the finished product still packs a lot of pear flavor. The other reason is that pears and almonds are an excellent combination and these cakes are exceptionally tasty.
These Upside Down Pear and Almond Cakes are single-serving cakelets baked in a muffin pan. Thin slices of pear are placed in a mixture of butter and brown sugar that is at the bottom of the pan, and a light almond cake batter is poured on top. As the cake bakes, the sugar around the pears caramelizes and the fruit intensifies in flavor. The cakes are turned out of the pan after baking and you end up with a sweet, buttery pear layer on top of a very tender almond cake.
Although some pears are considered to be better for baking than others, these cakes have a short cooking time and that means that just about every type pear will work in this recipe. I used Comice pears, but Bosc and Bartlet are also good choices. Choose pears that are ripe but not so ripe that they’re soft and difficult to slice. I do not peel my pears because the fruit is sliced very thinly and the skins are not noticeable in the finished product, though you can peel your pears if you prefer.
If you flip these cakes out of the pan shortly after baking, you should not have too much of a problem with the cakes sticking. I prefer to use a muffin liner (even though it can be a touch more difficult to get those pears in place), where there is no chance of the pear pieces sticking to the pan. Muffin liners also mean that leftover cakes are easy to store and transport, in the event you want to turn these into a casual snack instead of a dinner party dessert.