I'm still here :)
My husband and I recently hosted one of our most enjoyable entertaining events of the summer - our gourmet group. The long-held format is the host and hostess create the menu and assign one recipe to each couple to make and bring to the host's home. The hosts are responsible for the main course and usually a side dish, plus all of the wine and beverages for the evening. We always host in the summer in order to enjoy al fresco dining on our patio and summery views of the garden that I work so hard to primp for this event. Normally, I would have a few pictures of my table setting outside but sadly, the weather did not cooperate for us this year and the dinner had to be served indoors. Harrumph!
Today, I'm sharing the dessert that I chose for the event. It's Jacques Pépin's Almond Cake with Fresh Berries. I was given his cookbook Fast Food My Way recently by my son-in-law. This cake is delicious, summery and so easy to make (in the food processor!).
Just before serving, the cake is drizzled with a spiked simple syrup. I used rum but cognac would also taste delicious. Then, a layer of thinned apricot preserves is brushed on. I applied both to each slice individually so that the remaining cake wouldn't get too soggy.
What I didn't have time to show is the dollop of Grand Marnier-spiked whipped cream on the side. The original recipe calls for Creme Fraiche as the garnish.
Our main course was grilled rainbow trout with lemon parsley butter which I've shared here. Grilling fish for 10 people required 3 batches of 4 fish each on the grill (we used two cast iron grates) so we slightly undercooked the first 2 batches and held them in a 200 degree oven until the last batch was completed. It received rave reviews from our friends. I hope to share a couple other highlights of the meal soon.
Among many other things here is a sample of the other things that has been keeping me busy for far this summer...
A few of my blue and purple clematis, now in full bloom...
I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful month of July!
Almond Cake with Fresh Berries
Adapted From Jacques Pépin's Fast Food My Way and also found here.
SERVINGS: 6 to 8
4 ounces almond paste (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tightly packed; see Note*)
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
Dash of salt
1 cup cake flour (4 ounces) - I used King Arthur's Unbleached Cake Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Toppings and Garnishes
1 1/2 tablespoons rum (or spirit of choice)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 tablespoons apricot jam
Crème fraîche or Whipped Cream (flavored with rum or Grand Marnier), for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-by-2-inch round cake pan*. Line the pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. In a food processor, combine the almond paste, sugar, butter and vanilla and process for 10 seconds. Add the eggs, milk and salt and process for 5 seconds. Add the cake flour and baking powder and process until the batter is smooth, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until lightly browned and firm, about 40 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the rum with the sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of water; stir to dissolve the sugar. I heated it on the stove top to help dissolve the sugar. In another small bowl, whisk the apricot jam with 1/2 tablespoon of water to make a glaze.
After the baked cake has cooled for about 5-10 minutes, unmold the cake upside down on a baking rack. You will have a nice, flat top this way. When cool, transfer the cake to a serving platter. Brush with the spiked syrup just before serving and then brush the cake with the apricot glaze. Scatter the berries over and around the cake. Garnish with the mint leaves and serve the cake in wedges with spiked whipped cream or crème fraîche.
- I used a 7" spring form pan so my cake was higher than using an 8" pan - which I liked. However, it took longer to bake. If a toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. I buttered the pan and then also sprayed with Baker's Joy.
- You can make this cake early in the day. Or make several cakes, wrap, well and freeze. Defrost, still in their wrappings, in the refrigerator.
- Almond paste is available at most supermarkets in 8-ounce cans or tubes. (Look for Solo Brand in a can –it costs less than the tubes.) I bought the 8 ounce Solo Brand Almond Paste in a can and make 2 individual cakes - processing one recipe at a time in the food processor.
- I tripled the spiked syrup and and doubled the amount of jam glaze