Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gató d'Ametlla (Mallorcan Almond Cake)

When I began planning my friend's birthday dinner with her daughter, the email read: "Her most favorite cake is a princess cake." I admitted that I didn't think I could make a princess cake, but I assured her that the cake would be yummy.

We were going with a Mediterranean-themed dinner; when I found the recipe for this cake, from Mallorca, I knew it would be perfect. I modified it a bit to include my latest culinary obsession - fennel pollen - and topped it with a leftover caramel sauce. The verdict, from my fellow party planner: it's better than a princess cake. Well, I'm not sure about that, but it was delicious.

8 eggs, separated
1 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1 pinch fennel pollen
1 splash Sambuca, or any other licorice liqueur
2 C coarsely ground blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Butter an 11-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, fennel pollen, and Sambuca. Whisk together until smooth and foamy. Add the ground almonds, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition to incorporate fully.

Using a whisk or a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites in to the egg yolk mixture, gently but thoroughly. Try to deflate the batter as little as possible.

Spoon the batter to the prepared pan. Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, or until the top springs back and the cake is golden.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool in the pan until warm. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake sides and then invert the cake onto the rack. Place the cake upright on a serving plate. I poured a layer of fennel pollen caramel sauce* on top and offered vanilla bean and coffee ice creams on the side.

*The Caramel Sauce was leftover from Brian's Salty Sea Dog Donuts.

1 C organic granulated sugar
1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
1/2 C ginger syrup
1 1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream
1/2 C butter
1 t sea salt

In a medium-size pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, ginger syrup, whipping cream, butter and sea salt. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring. When the thermometer reaches 244 degrees remove the pot from the heat.

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