Sunday, January 1, 2012

Almond Sponge Cake


I was certainly spoiled this year for my 27th birthday. Steve made the most amazing Mexican feast with authentic recipes from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. For pictures and recipes from my birthday dinner, please visit Cayuga St. Kitchen.

Although Steve wanted to handle everything from start to finish, I had to at least contribute a dessert. I flipped through the cookbook of the evening and decided on the Torta de Cielo, translated “Cake of Heaven”. Umm, yes please. This almond sponge cake is slightly adapted from Diana Kennedy's recipe, which originated in the kitchen of a well-known hotel in the city of Mérida, Yucatán.

Ingredients
Serves about 9

8 oz raw whole almonds

1 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
2-4 Tbsp cognac (depending on how boozy you want it)

1 tsp almond extract

1Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt


Preparation

First, cover the almonds with boiling water and let soak for 4 hours undisturbed. After the almonds are done soaking, remove the skins by gently pinching. Dry almonds thoroughly and grind in food processor until they are very fine, but not powder.
Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 9” cake pan or a similar size baking dish by buttering the bottom and sides of the dish, then lining with parchment paper, then buttering the top of the parchment paper. Set aside. 

Separate the five eggs. (Notice the two bright orange and three yellow yolks below. The vibrant orange ones were the last of my farm fresh eggs and the others are store-bought, organic eggs. What a difference!) With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy. Add the salt and continue beating until they are stiff. Add the yolks one by one and continue beating until incorporated.

Photo by shantilly picnic
Mix the dry ingredients together including the almonds and beating at low speed, gradually add them to the egg mixture.





Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
Add the cognac and almond extract, mix well and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes in the middle of the oven. Let cool on a wire rack before removing from pan.

Photo by shantilly picnic
You can top the cake with powdered sugar or some fresh whip cream. We opted for whip cream in order to use Steve's new whipping siphon. I apologize for my lime green Preserve plates; they don't make for the best pictures but they're incredibly handy for dinner parties.

Photo by shantilly picnic
Mmmmmm... and it went so well with the lavender shortbread cookies I brought home from Saltie.

Photo by shanilly picnic

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