This dessert was part of our Cooking Keller Concert in the Park Menu (see previous post, here) last Sunday, but that post was filled to the brim with our 11-course picnic and I was running out of room to share this recipe.
These almond cakes can be served with almost any kind of compote or fruit, depending on the season. The cakes can be stored, well-wrapped, for up to two days, and the compote will keep for at least a week. Leftover compote is wonderful spooned over yogurt for breakfast, over ice cream as another dessert, or simply eaten by the spoonful!
Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
[Gâteau aux Amandes, Compote de Fraises et de Rhubarbe]
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon
For the compote (makes about 4 cups)
1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the almond cake
Butter and flour for the pan(s)
7 ounces almond paste
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons honey
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons amaretto, plus additional for brushing
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3/4 cup crème fraîche, whipped to soft peaks
Make the compote
1. Select about 4 ounces of the smallest strawberries and cut lengthwise into quarters. These will be added raw to the cooked compote; set aside.
2. Cut the remaining larger berries in halves or quarters so that the pieces are about the same size. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups.) Place them in a medium saucepan.
3. With a paring knife, pull away and discard the strings that run the length of the rhubarb stalks. Cut the stalks into 3/4-inch pieces (you should have about 3 cups) and add to the saucepan.
4. Use a fine grater or a Microplane to zest the lemon. Add 1 teaspoon of the zest to the pan. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice and add it to the pan. Add the sugar and stir to coat the fruit.
5. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. By the time the sugar has dissolved, the fruit will have released a lot of juice. Boil for about 4 minutes to reduce the liquid somewhat, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Don’t worry if some of the rhubarb falls apart.
6. Take pan off the stove and stir in reserved strawberries. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container until cold.
Make the cake
Note: I was unable to stretch the batter to fill 4 pans, and ended up making two batches to yield six cakes. From the photo in Bouchon (showing one of the cakes and a pan in the background), it appears Keller's springform pans are more like 3-by-1 3/4 inches.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour four 4-by-1 3/4-inch-high miniature springform pans or butter and flour the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan. If using the 8-inch pan, line its bottom with a circle of parchment paper; this isn’t necessary with the small pans.
2. 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.
3. Add the butter and mix for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light in color and airy; stop the machine and scrape down the sides as necessary. It is important to mix long enough or the cake will have a dense texture.
4. Mix in the honey, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the amaretto, flour, and a pinch of salt and mix just to combine.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top. Bake the small cakes for about 15 minutes, the large one for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden and springs back when pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool. Note: My small cakes took 20 minutes to bake.
6. Unmold the small cakes or invert the large cake onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, and invert the cake again so that the top is once again facing upward. Brush the top of the cake(s) with amaretto and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. (The large and small cakes can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
To serve, cut the small cakes in half or the large cake into wedges. Serve with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche and the strawberry-rhubarb compote (I used only the compote).
Oh!Nuts graciously supplied me with a pound of their Sliced Blanched Almonds. They carry premium quality nuts, dried fruit, candy and chocolate.