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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Almond Cornmeal Cake with Mascarpone Frosting and Toasted Almonds

This is a recipe for a plain almond loaf adapted from Epicurious. It's a very pleasurable cake to make, slightly unusual because of the cornmeal. It fits perfectly into an 8-1/2 loaf tin and rises very nicely.

I got a good tip from the recipe, too: to cut a 24x3 inch piece of parchment paper and place it on the base - middle of the tin with the sides hanging over. These can be used as handles to ease the baked cake out, instead of doing the upside-down, and possibly, disastrous thing. I'm going to use this tip often in future.

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole blanched almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°F and butter an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2- by 3-inch loaf pan. Put a 24- by 3 1/2-inch strip of wax paper lengthwise down center of pan (to facilitate unmolding), leaving an overhang on each end.

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Finely grind almonds with 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and stir into cornmeal mixture.

Beat butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time until just blended, then beat in vanilla. (Mixture will look curdled.) Add cornmeal mixture and stir and fold until just combined.

Transfer batter to loaf pan, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife, then use strips to carefully lift cake from pan onto rack.

It says 6 servings, but that would be 6 very large slices. My team is going to have thin, delicate slices so I'll get 12 out of it. Dabbed with mascarpone frosting and some toasted almonds it should be quite elegant.

The Mascarpone Frosting:
8 ozs mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 TBS unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teasp. vanilla
1 TBS 2% milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In large bowl, beat together mascarpone and butter until smoothe. Beat in vanilla extract and milk. On low speed, add in confectioners' sugar, increase speed to high and mix 1-2 minutes.