The signs that Summer is coming to a close are finally showing up. I am going to be honest….I love seeing all of those back to school commercials. I love opening the mail to find the classroom supply lists. My oldest child will be attending private school (only because quality middle schools are few and far between where we live), so this week we are going to oder her school uniforms. Some people really don’t like this time of year. I agree it’s horribly expensive…all the new clothes and shoes….school supplies. But it is the magical sign. In just a few weeks I will no longer have my children climbing me like a tree (all day). I will be able to complete a thought while in my car…The sound of my phone ringing will NOT cause my kids to start screaming at each other forcing me to apologize before I’ve spoken one word to the caller.
My kids have taken to treating our bed like a campsite, they are slick about it too….they claim they are coming in to watch a movie all snuggled up with us but really what they are doing is staking their claim to the prime sleeping space in the bed. My body feels like a pretzel from having to sleep in the leftover nooks and crannies. This sort of nonsense doesn’t happen while school is in session. Why? Because I lie to my children and tell them that distracting foolish behavior is against the rules of school and their teachers. I admit it. I admit also that when my youngest child (almost 4) is a cranky mess about to melt down I use the teacher again to make it stop. I tell her that when summer is over I HAVE to give a behavior report to her teacher. It’s works well. Yes I know it’s wrong but in my defense I’m at the end of my rope! It’s too hot to play outside….these kids and I are trapped in here! The lies are for my (and their) survival. Sigh.
In other news…..as you all know I have quite a few unusual pets considering where I live. Hubby and I want to take a trip in a few weeks and need to work out pet care. I didn’t feel good about trying to get friends and family to do it. So I got the idea to call a pet siting service. I figured the worst thing that could happen is that they laugh and hang up on me. I am pleased to report that the pet sitter (bonded and insured) came over to see just exactly what I was talking about….and loved it. Looking after these animals is much easier than it sounds…honestly. He gave us a very fair daily rate that even included our dogs and of course Penelope the pig. We are just thrilled!! The point being, if you have hens and goats and an odd little pig at home, don’t let that stop you from taking a nice trip. I had no trouble finding a lovely person to take good care of them. As a bonus the pet sitter gets to keep all the eggs he collects while were gone.
On a totally unrelated note…this is Ms. Penelope the pig, sleeping in her basket. She covers herself with the blankets leaving only her snout open for breathing. It’s awfully cute…Sorry about the quality. When I get closer she hides her whole face even the nose.
I can feel the inspiration setting in….down here in south Florida our growing season begins in the fall. I’m already getting my new seeds. The garden beds are being cleared….Fall decorations are starting to pop up in the craft stores. I wish I could explain how excited I get as we move into Fall. While we wait, lets bake a truly fantastic cake. This recipe is not mine, I’ve adapted it from David Lebovitz. It’s by far the best almond cake I’ve ever baked or frankly eaten. It’s that good. Enjoy!
Almond Cake ~ Adapted from David Lebovitz and Chez Panisse Desserts
One 9-inch or 10-inch (23-25 cm) cake
Adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere
As mentioned, this cake is best made in the food processor. If using a stand mixture, use the paddle attachment and let the mixer run until the almond paste is finely broken up. There’s a few notes at the end of the recipe, including some almond paste tips and suggestions.
I dialed down the butter from the original recipe, which had two more ounces (55g), for a total of 10 ounces (280g) since some feel the cake was a bit heavier and too-buttery with all that butter in it. But if you do wish to go that route, I’d be interested in knowing what you think.
- 1 1/3 cups (265g) sugar
- 8 ounces (225g) almond paste
- 3/4, plus 1/4 cup (140g total) flour
- 1 cup (8 ounces, 225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (162ºC). Grease a 9- or 10-inch (23-25 cm) cake or spring form pan with butter, dust it with flour and tap out any excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper. (See Note, below.)
2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sugar, almond paste, and 1/4 cup (35g) of flour until the almond paste is finely ground and the mixture resembles sand.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (105g) of flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Once the almond paste is completely broken up, add the cubes of butter and the vanilla and almond extracts, then process until the batter is very smooth and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit before the next addition. (You may wish to open the machine and scrape the sides down to make sure the eggs are getting fully incorporated.)
After you add all the eggs, the mixture may look curdled. Don’t worry; it’ll come back together after the next step.
6. Add half the flour mixture and pulse the machine a few times, then add the rest, pulsing the machine until the drying ingredients are just incorporated, but do not overmix. (You can also transfer the batter to a bowl and mix the dry ingredients in, which ensures the dry ingredients get incorporated evenly and you don’t overbeat it.)
Note: In my case I scraped the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry and gently folded them together to be sure I couldn’t over work the batter.
7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 65 minutes, or until the top is deep brown and feels set when you press in the center.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp or serrated knife around the perimeter, loosing the cake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely in the pan.
Once cool, tap the cake out of the pan, remove the parchment paper, and set on a cake plate until ready to serve. (Tip: Warm the bottom of the cake pan directly on the stovetop for just a few seconds, which will help the cake release.)
Note: I had no trouble getting the cake to release so I skipped this step.
Storage: This cake will keep for four days at room temperature, well-wrapped. It can also be frozen for up to two months.
Note: For this cake, I used this 9-inch cake pan, whose sides are 2-inches (5cm) high. Some readers noted that the batter rose higher than their pan, although I’ve made this cake well over a hundred times and have not had that problem. So use a standard size cake pan whose sides are at least that high, not a layer cake pan, which is shallower.
Tips: If your almond paste has dried out, the Odense FAQs (see below) recommends placing the almond paste in a plastic bag with two slices of bread or an apple half, and letting it sit overnight.
I served this cake with macerated strawberries that I soaked in Amaretto and sugar for 3 hours. The fruit syrup that forms is heavenly. I garnished with softly whipped cream.
The final plate….