Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Karen Got a Big Ole Bundt

Ed Note: The following recipe for Aphrodisiac Cherry Vanilla Almond Cake has officially been entered in the Bon Appétit Blog Envy Bake-Off Contest!  Please vote here (registration may be required) - voting will be over soon!

Recently I was fortunate to receive and test-drive a recipe from Chrysta Wilson and Amy Reiley's upcoming book, Kiss My Bundt, a collection of yummy bundt cake recipes.  Chrysta developed the recipes while growing up in the South and perfected them at her Kiss My Bundt Bakery in Los Angeles.

I have no shame in admitting that bundt cakes take a special amount of skill to pull off and, alas, there is much for me to learn.  The first lesson I learned tonight while making a bundt cake is to make sure to have a container of Baker's Joy around.  Unfortunately I didn't realize that I had run out until after I had already started baking. Baker's Joy is a non-stick cooking spray with flour to ensure that your baked goods are removable from the pan.  A word to the wise - using regular non-stick butter spray will not do the job.  I try to "make this work" because I hate trying to dust a pan with flour.  I always always do it wrong and end up with a beautiful bundt cake with white, flour-speckled polka dots.  I make bundt cakes so infrequently that I always forget this so I'm hoping that by forever memorializing this experience on my blog I will never forget again!

That said, the recipe itself turned out wonderfully.  It was delicious and moist and, most importantly, was a cake that one could eat on its own without frosting or fancy glazes.  I was surprised at first to read that Chrysta doesn't always frost or glaze her bundt cakes but after tasting one I can see why.  On that note, when was the last time you had cake, be it from a cupcake, slice of cake, etc., that was worth eating?  It's gotten so bad that sometimes when I see a cupcake bakery that sells small containers of frosting, the snarky part of me wants to say "thank goodness I can just eat the frosting because your cake needs flavor/texture/moisture/freshness/more time in the oven/HELP."  Some readers may remember my previous post on the subject titled A Perfect Slice of Chocolate Cake.  When I next have a slice of this bundt cake I might sprinkle some confectioner's sugar on top but ultimately I just want to taste the cake.  The combination of almond extract and ground almonds gives the cake a pleasant texture and wonderful almond flavor that is perfectly set off by the sweetness of the cherries.  And besides, doesn't it just look amazing?



Here's the recipe!

Aphrodisiac Cherry Vanilla Almond Cake


Ground almonds, fresh cherries and vanilla marry in an aphrodisiac ménage á trois. At the bakery, this cake debuted on Valentine's Day 2009 to raves.


Ingredients:
2 1/2 C flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C unsalted butter
1 3/4 C sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 C whole milk
1 C fresh, black cherries, pitted and coarsely-chopped
3 tbsp ground almonds or almond meal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter until soft, about 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the sugar.  Beat on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Crack eggs into a separate bowl and add to batter one at a time. Then beat on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Add vanilla and almond extract.
  7. Beginning and ending with the flour, mix 1/3 of the flour into the wet mixture, then 1/2 of the milk, alternating until all ingredients are mixed.
  8. Toss cherries with the ground almonds then fold cherry mixture into the batter, being careful to fully incorporate the cherry juice.
  9. Transfer batter to cake pan(s) that have been coated with a baker’s cooking spray that includes flour (or greased and floured), filling until cavity is about 3/4 full.  
  10. Bake cake(s) until an inserted toothpick or cake tester comes out clean--about 40 minutes for a big ol' bundt.
  11. Invert cake(s) onto a cooling rack or serving plate. If cake resists, cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting. (If cake still resists, cool an additional 15 minutes in the pan.) Cool completely before frosting, at least 1 hour for a big ol’ bundt.

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