Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best Cake Ever


My little sister asked me and I were chatting about making cake the other day, and I was reminded of the best cake I'd ever made, it was a recipe from the A16: Food + Wine cookbook, and it was hands-down the best cake I have ever made. Yes, I have eaten more divine confections from bakeries or restaurants or other more able bakers, but this is the tastiest cake I ever managed to whip up myself. It's flavor is sophisticated and not-to-sweet, and it is criminal that I didn't blog about it when I made it!

A word about the recipe: Both times I made it the cake needed to cook longer than the allotted time in the recipe, so be sure to check with a toothpick to make sure the center is fully cooked before pulling this one out of the oven. 

Pistachio and Almond Cake with Orange Salad
From A16: Food + Wine

Cake:
1 1/3 cups unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
1 1/3 cups blanched whole almonds
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 lemons
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon "00" flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Citrus Salad:
3 blood oranges
2 Valencia, navel, or blood oranges
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Unsalted shelled pistachio nuts

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter a 4-by-8-inch loaf pan. Then, using a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a food process, combine the pistachios and almonds and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.
3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Grate the zest from the lemons directly into the bowl. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla just until incorporated. On low speed, gradually add the nuts and mix just until incorporated. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until incorporated.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, run a paring knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake sides, invert the cake onto a plate, and lift off the pan. At this point, the cake can be served warm or allowed to cool completely before being sliced and reheated.
5. To make the orange salad, cut a slice off the top and bottom of 1 orange, stand the orange upright, and cut downward to remove the rind and pith in thick strips. Cut the orange crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, capturing any juice. Repeat with all of the remaining oranges. Set the oranges slices aside until needed.
6. Gently heat the marmalade in a pot over low heat for about 3 minutes, or until syrupy. Add any captured orange juice along with the lemon juice to the marmalade. Remove the pot from the heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to think the marmalade to the consistency of a vinaigrette. Let cool.
7. To serve, preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the cake into generous slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake the slices, turning them over once, for about 5 minutes, or until warm and slightly toasted on both sides.
8. Place 4 or 5 orange slices on each plate and drizzle generously with the marmalade syrup. Place the warm pieces of cake next to the orange slices and top with a dollop of yogurt and a few pistachios. Serve immediately.

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