Sunday, March 1, 2009
OK...So this does not go back generations in my family. However, this has been a treat that I have been doing for special occasions for a couple of decades now. I guess that qualifies. I do not want to be arbitrary in rule making, but as it is one of my favorites and I am a member of the family, I will make a few allowances. Please feel free to send any family favorites to me for the same reason. This is a recipe is one that I drag out for Weddings,Holidays,Birthdays and any special get together. I am rarely a drinker, so I do not do this for myself. I do, however, enjoy a piece of this when it is available. It is very rich, so a recipe of this will go a long way. While it is not a family recipe, it is certainly in the tradition of all those cakes that Uncle Phil had sitting on his counter for weeks while he doused them with brandy every day or two. The cakes that he did are among the recipes that I have been searching for, and who knows if there might be some of these recipes hanging around in other branches of the family as well.
This cake, though it may seem intimidating, is very easy. The only issue is the delicacy of wet cake after it is soaked makes it tough to handle. If you plan well though, it really is a breeze to make and VERY impressive to serve. The first bite changes the opinion of even the most skeptical.
1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of sugar adding at the rate of 2 Tablespoons at a time
beat till light and fluffy
2 eggs one at a time till completely incorporated
Add while beating:
1/3 cup of Amaretto
1 1/2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Separately sift together:
2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
Add the dry ingredients to the batter and stir till smoothly combined. Do not beat too much air into the batter. You are not trying to make a light cake.
Pour the batter(it may be quite thick) into a buttered and floured cake tin.(This is also fun in small molds or muffin tins as small gifts)
Bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees F. or till a tooth pick comes out clean. I think this usually takes longer in my oven. Just keep an eye on it. It will be a nice dark parchment or biscuit color. You are often displaying this from the bottom of a mold so the color will be the nice brown of the underside.
Cool about 10 minutes and turn out to cool. When not quite completely cool, prick or pierce all over(top bottom and sides) with a toothpick or skewer.
In a saucepan mix together:
1/2 cup of sugar
3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
3 Tablespoons of light corn syrup(your choice really)
1/3 cup of water
2/3 cup of amaretto
I often mix up one and a half recipes of the syrup, as I like it wet.
Bring the syrup to a boil then remove from the heat and cool.
Smaller cakes and molds of cake may be dipped into the syrup till some is absorbed, turned over and removed to a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Much of the syrup will be absorbed. The larger cakes should be placed on waxed paper in a container a bit larger than the cake. Pour the syrup very slowly over the cake to allow it to absorb.
When all is cool and absorbed, more syrup may be added. Wrap the cakes in waxed paper then in Cellophane or some other decorative wrapping or container as gifts, or place on a cake plate to serve. No further decoration is necessary, but pralined almonds may be added to the top, especially if you get a couple of dents from the dipping process and need something to cover. Use powdered sugar only if it is to be served and consumed in a few minutes. The syrup will just soak the sugar and it will disappear. This absolutely does not need to be iced. If you must tart this up somehow, consider a thin glaze of white or dark chocolate. Milk chocolate would not work well. You could only do this by pouring the glaze over the cake as it tends to be a bit delicate after soaking.
You may substitute citrus in any form that you like for the Amaretto. Lemon is very nice but experiment with others. The Amaretto is not cooked for long, so the alcohol is in tact when you eat it. Give children only the smallest portions, perhaps as crumbs on Ice Cream or puddings. Never give a child a whole slice unless you are extremely progressive!
NOTE: You can just put almonds in a pan with sugar and heat till the sugar melts and coats the nuts. 1 stick of butter and of a cup sugar will candy them more like a brittle. (You then chop the brittle or pound it with a hammer or the bottom of a heavy pan or cup.) Do not wait too long to remove the pan from the heat as it will continue to cook and darken after it is removed from the heat...a nice light gold or yellow is a good place to stop.
No, the picture is not a clone of Uncle Phil, it is me. I do not like photos of myself as I go older.