One of my favorite recipe indexes is at Canadian Living. For Mom's birthday (4 Aug.) celebration today, I decided to bake her a cake I found at Canadian Living, with a few of her favorite ingredients: almonds, apricots and sour cream. The recipe is for Almond Apricot Bundt Cake.
I only substituted a few items: agave nectar for the sugar, fat-free sour cream for the whole sour cream (and I cut this by one-third to account for the agave nectar), and dried orange peel for the grated orange rind. I also skipped the glaze and topping because the cake really didn't need it. John suggested, and I agree, that if we were to serve it for a group, we would decorate it with fresh apricots and toasted almonds, and plate it sliced. Plating it sliced allows you to see the delightful apricots and the warm almond color of the ground almonds.
I also used a very strong almond oil instead of almond extract and the house reeked of almonds for a day. Could have been worse.
Here are the photos and descriptions:
This was my inaugural use of Pensey's dried orange peel. The directions say to use a one teaspon of peel to one tablespoon of water ratio to make the tablespoon of rind called for in the recipe. I added the water to the dried peel, and it worked like a charm.
Here's the peel sucking up the water. It smelled very orange-y, but I didn't try any. Although I used it in the recipe, I really couldn't taste it. I plan to try it in something else where it might be a more integral ingredient.
The apricots I used weren't your typical dried apricots--all chewy and dry. These were moist and almost mushy. They tasted fantastic, so I sliced them and used them in the cake. I'm glad I did because they were delicious, and added to the moistness of the cake.
I don't usually take a lot of photos of our kitchen, but if you looked at the background of the photo above, you could see Elvis surfing beyond the apricots. Well, that's him here to the right in between the care and use of Le Creuset grill pan directions and a flowery cutting board Mom brought back from England one year. The spices on the stove are the ones John uses the most. I'll have to take a photo of my collection some time. And look! There's a piece of our Polish pottery -- a spoon rest.
Back to the cake!
In order to make the half cup of ground almonds called for in the recipe, I pulled out my trusty Krups food processor. I forgot how noisy making ground almonds is. It takes about 7 minutes to get the almonds to the perfect consistency. If you grind them long enough, you can make almond butter.
I used raw almonds from Trader Joes. They really do have the best nuts.
I wish that the part of my kitchen where the mixer is wasn't so dark when I made this cake. Otherwise, I would have been able to show you the Artisan mixing the butter with the agave nectar, eggs, orange peel and almond oil. But, I can't, so here's some product placement. They didn't pay me, unfortunately, but here's what I used.
One of my most under-utilized tools is this measuring cup that's the size of a medium mixing bowl. Actually, I think it might have been John's originally. Either way, I pulled it out for this cake because I thought it might be easier to add the dry ingredients to the wet ones in the mixer with this cup. It's really heavy, so I didn't use it for that purpose, and just scooped out half when needed and put it in the butter mixture using a custard cup.
After adding half the dry ingredients, I mixed in the sour cream, then mixed in the remaining flour mixture. I was suprised that the apricots went in before the dry ingredients, but they did.
After all the ingredients were combined, I used a silicone spatula to move the batter from the Artisan mixing bowl to the non-stick bundt pan. It filled the pan about halfway. With 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of baking soda, I thought the cake might rise more than it did. But, it didn't rise much at all.
I'll bet it was the agave nectar that weighed it down.
The recipe said to bake the cake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes. Now, I don't trust my oven because it's turned on me before, but I had loads of chocolate making to clean up, so I didn't worry about it because I'd be in the kitchen anyway.
Surprisingly, right at 45 minutes, the cake was done, clean toothpick test and all.
Here's a close up of what becomes the bottom of the cake. It was delicious. Wish I could show you a photo of the innards, but the cake's at Mom's and we didn't take a picture of it. Maybe I can ask her or Dave very politely to take one for me, then I'll post one.