Thursday, May 6, 2010

almond cake with strawberry-rhubarb compote

Everybody loves a little afternoon indulgence, especially if it comes in a form of moist and flavorful almond cake, drizzled with  delicious strawberry-rhubarb compote. I have to admit, the cake was just a pretext...what I really wanted was the sweetness of juicy strawberries and the zesty taste of rhubarb make its way into a compote and just a little something to drizzle it on.....hence the cake. Both are really easy to prepare but I must warn you.....
Number of little things could go wrong with this recipe:
you can accidentally drink whole amaretto and end up making uwanted trip to the store,
you can eat all the toasted almonds before the cake is ready, only to find out there aren’t any stashed in your pantry, and make another, even more unwanted trip to the store, 
you can eat the whole cake  before the compote cooks or 
you can eat all the compote before the cake is, be sure to plan ahead.
This beautiful recipe was created by famous French Laundry chef Thomas Keller (via SK), 

shopping list:

for the compote:
1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1 lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar

for the almond cake:
butter and flour for the pan
7 ounces almond paste
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 Tbsp honey
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons amaretto, plus additional for brushing
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup crème fraîche, whipped to soft peaks(optional)

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.
6. Take pan off the stove and stir in reserved strawberries. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container until cold. (This makes about 4 cups of compote, but the extra will keep for a couple of weeks and is delicious for breakfast)

Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan, line its bottom with a circle of parchment paper;
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 and smooth the top. Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden and springs back when pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  6. Unmold and invert the 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 with amaretto and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cake can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Serve cut into wedges, with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche and the strawberry-rhubarb compote.
Serve cut into wedges, with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche and the strawberry-rhubarb compote.
indulge and enjoy!!!

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