by Saucy Vixen Naomi Lynn
I love pastries. Wait. I looooove pastries. The only trouble I have with them is finding pastries that are satisfying, moist, flavorful, not overloaded with sugar, and don’t contain gross chemical additives. I am also huge on organic and non-GMO ingredients, as well as ethical sourcing. With all of these predispositions, it’s no wonder I started baking my own.
I came up with this teacake during a serious month-long almond obsession. I wanted a cake that was light, flavorful, and rich, while still maintaining delicacy. I think I nailed it. You can easily halve the recipe to make a single cake (a standing mixer won’t work for this), but you can always eat one loaf now and freeze the second.
Almond Tea Cake
(makes 2 loaves)
2½ cups cake flour, sifted & divided
½ cup whole raw almonds, unsalted
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp salt
1½ cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar, granulated or cane
¼ brown sugar, light or dark
1 tsp almond extract
½ cup sliced almonds
powdered (confectioners) sugar, optional
Preheat the oven to 325° and generously butter two 9×5 loaf pans. Sprinkle both pans with flour, tapping sides and rotating pans to coat the inside completely. Invert pans over sink and tap them to remove excess flour; set aside. An even coating will ensure that your cakes make it out in one piece.
Add 2 cups of sifted cake flour into a medium-size bowl; set aside. It’s super important to sift the flour! If you don’t, the cake will turn out dry. If you don’t have a flour sifter, you can use a mesh strainer filled with flour, and tap it against your hand so that the flour falls like snow into your measuring cup. Using a food processor, Magic Bullet, or any other grindy-choppy type tool, combine whole almonds with remaining ½ cup of cake flour. Blend ingredients until the almonds are fully processed. The flour will help prevent the almonds from becoming oily and turning into almond butter, though the mixture will likely require a few scrapes with a spatula during the process. Once combined, add mixture to flour bowl, using clean hands to break apart any clumps. Add cinnamon and salt, stirring just until combined. Set aside.
Using a large bowl or standing mixer, blend butter and brown sugar. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, until combined. Mix on high for about five minutes, until it looks fluffy and frosting-like. Be sure to intermittently scrape the sides of the bowl.
Crack eggs into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. I do this to ensure that no shell fragments make it into my batter. The risk is especially high if you try adding eggs to a standing mixer while it’s running. (Yeah, I’ve done that v.v) Add the eggs, two yolks at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add almond extract; mix just until combined.Add flour mixture to butter mixture, about ½ cup at a time to ensure an even consistency.
Divide batter evenly between the two loaf pans. The batter won’t fill them completely. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the cakes, using ¼ cup for each cake. Lightly press the almonds into the top of the cakes (or they’ll fall right off after baking.) Place loaf pans on the center rack, spaced a few inches apart, and bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating pans after 25 minutes to ensure even baking.
When a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, they’re done! Remove both pans from the oven and cool cakes on a wire rack for ten minutes. This will help the cakes firm up and release from the sides of the pan. Run a fillet knife (the thinner, the better) around the sides of the pan to release the cake. Using a hot pad (or two if your hands are sensitive), hold the pan in one hand, placing your other hand on top of the cake. Invert the pan, holding onto the cake in the process, and -gently- lift and shake the pan to release the cake. Flip the cake back on to the wire rack, right side up, to cool completely. Repeat with second cake.
At this point, the cake is ready to be sliced and devoured, though I like to lightly dust the top of mine with powdered sugar. I use a thin strainer with sugar in it, and lightly shake it across the tops of the cakes. It doesn’t need much; this isn’t meant to be a super sweet cake. Using a bread knife, gently slice the cake into 1-inch thick slices. And there you have it! A simple, lightly sweet cake that’s perfect with a cup of black tea. Enjoy!!