Monday, June 30, 2014

Amaretto-Almond Pound Cake - Southern Cake Book

I bought another baking book today... I think I have over 500 of them now by now.

But this was is different, this one is unique. This one is special because I would really like to bake every cake in this book. How often does that happen? The name of the book is The Southern Cake Book (2014 edition) by Southern Living.

I purchased this book because it was featured in the Lagniappe section of New Orleans’ (no longer daily) newspaper – The Time-Picayune. The reporter made it sound so luscious and delectable that I just had to have it. And when the book arrived I wasn’t disappointed. The photos are gorgeous, and all the cakes look delicious. I couldn’t decide which one to bake first, but I finally decided on Almond Amaretto Pound Cake. I LOVE Pound Cake, and I love Amaretto. Win-Win.

The recipe was easy to follow and the batter came together without any problems. The only thing out of the ordinary was that you added the eggs as the last step. Flour first and then the eggs.  Odd.  I wonder if there is some chemistry to mixing the ingredients in that order. Where is Alton Brown when you need him?

Into the pan the batter goes… I’m still loving my HIC silicon fluted pan. I find the silicon pan doesn’t burn the outer edge of the cake as much as the metal pans do. I also love the bright red color! But my pan only holds 10 cups and the recipe calls for a 12-cup pan, so I cut the recipe in half and baked for about 40 minutes. I also didn't include the sliced almonds on the top of the cake. I have a brother visiting that has severe nut allergies.

The last step in the process is to make an Amaretto syrup to pour over the top of the warm cake.

Well, hum… Something went wrong with this step. I followed the instructions, I swear, but I guess I cooked it too long and I ended up with Amaretto candy instead of syrup. It was too thick to absorb into the cake (like the recipe describes), instead it coated the top of the cake and dribbled down the sides.

After a while the Amaretto “syrup” got pretty hard and broke apart when I cut a slice. But it still tasted awesome. Very almond-y. And the cake was moist enough without the added moisture from the absorbed syrup. Yummy…

So I would definitely list this pound cake as one of the best I have tasted. It rivals even the famous Elvis Presley Pound Cake or my even my Pound Cake Love recipe. This one is a keeper for sure.

Here is a link to the recipe on the Southern Living web site.

I also learned an interesting factoid from this recipe. Amaretto flavoring is made from apricot pits. Who knew?! And because the Amaretto is made from apricot pits you will find that it tastes very similar to almond extract. Why? Because almond extract is made from bitter almond oil which gets it flavor from a substance called benzaldehyde. Benzaldehyde is found in almonds of course, but it is also found in the the kernels of “drupes” or stone fruits like peach, apricots, plums, and cherries. So check the label of your favorite brand of almond extract and see if it gives you the source of the bitter almond oil.  Your almond extract could be made from almonds, but it could also be made from peach pits, or even a combination of different stone fruits.  Very interesting. Here is a link to Cook’s Illustrated ’s overview of Almond Extract.

Happy Baking....


Update:  Ha!! After looking at the recipe posted on the Southern Living web site I found a discrepancy between the directions shown in the book and the online version.  And that discrepancy has to do with the glaze.  Ha!   The one thing that I messed up on!! Double Ha!  So it wasn't a stupid, Carol, moment after all.

The book just tells you to spoon the hot glaze over the cake.  From the picture of the cake I thought that meant remove the cake from the pan and start spooning the glaze over the top.  Wrong!  The online version goes into a lot more detail, and tells you to start the glaze 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven.  As soon as the cake comes out start spooning the hot glaze over the BOTTOM of the hot cake.  Do not remove the the cake from the pan.  Spoon the glaze over the cake while it is still in the pan.

So I didn't mess up (well not completely).  Therefore I'm taking this cake out of my "You did something wrong" column and putting it in the "book had a miss-print column".

I'm going to try the cake again this weekend (for the 4th of July), and  I will post a new picture of my perfectly glaze cake as soon as possible.