slowly slowly i am getting back into the groove of things in my post-manuscript life. we ate late-night burgers on a weeknight because it seemed like a fun thing to do, began a jane the virgin addiction to hold us over until house of cards comes out, and on super bowl sunday when our party got cancelled because of a big fat snow storm (!!) we made ricotta gnocchi and actually continued our jane the virgin addiction when it wasn't the halftime show because having to watch football makes me squirmy and anxious. (it's one thing when you have a party with whom you can gossip the whole time, but it's another when it's just you and a male who would probably rather fill out tax forms than watch football.)
we even went for a run outside! it was *quite* crisp and i didn't last very long, but, oh, i need to stick with it because bread, butter, burgers, and schnitzel will really make you feel a little blobby. go figure...
but while this back-to-normal-life thing is really chill and all, perhaps the number two reason why i’m so excited that i met my book deadline (number one was obviously that i don’t face the risk of being sued) is because this is the time when i get to spend a whole entire day baking my annual valentine’s day almond cake and then sitting on my bum and decorating it using allllll of the red and pink things that i want! yusssss. it's the most wonderful time of the year. i look forward to it every winter and lie awake at night dreaming up its design. it is the most fun.
here is last year's cake, 2014’s, 2013’s, 2012’s, 2011’s, and 2010’s. this year i was inspired by all of the fun valentine’s day goodies in king arthur flour’s shop and made a slight tweak to my usual recipe by subbing out the vanilla extract for *princess emulsion*. have you had this stuff? it smells like butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, citrus, love, and nostalgia all rolled up into a secret potion, or as if the smell of a perfect frosted sugar cookie jumped into a bottle. i might just start dabbing some on my wrists as perfume. you could certainly stick with vanilla extract if you’d like, but this adds a nice little oomph to the flavor!
happy almost valentine’s day, friends!
valentine's day almond cake
1/2 c king arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp princess emulsion or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
marzipan kneaded with red, pink, and purple food coloring
sprinkles of all sorts
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line the bottom of a 10” springform pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the princess emulsion or vanilla and almond extract. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.
Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.
To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks.
Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate as desired!