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Flour girl: A cake to snack on

Cherry Almond Crumb Cake. (Leigh Lambert/The Washington Post)

We don't all think ahead to New Year's resolutions. In fact, we don't all think ahead. But if you have the energy and forethought, it's nice to have a something to nosh on tomorrow. You may have stretched the last few hours of 2009 into the first few hours of 2010. You may be a little worse for the wear and would like to be pampered with a piece of cake for breakfast to go with the requisite cuppa joe.

Recipe Included

This recipe for Cherry Almond Crumb Cake from Lauren Chattman's "Cake Keeper Cakes" (Taunton Press, 2009) is a gentle way to enter the new year. What I like best about this cake is that it's loaded with streusel. A coffee cake with a miserly crumb topping is just a tease. This has a substantial load on top and enough body to the cake to support and counter it.

The almond paste gives the cake a moist, dense texture. Almond paste can often be found in the baking aisle of the grocery store. It is not marzipan. I had a hard time finding it and ended up discovering just how easy it is to make it from scratch. I confess to having a Vita-mix, which makes the task of grinding super-easy. You can definitely make the paste in a food processor, though the texture may not be quite as smooth.

— Leigh Lambert

Cherry Almond Crumb Cake
Makes 1 10-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings

Adapted from Lauren Chattman's "Cake Keeper Cakes" (Taunton Press, 2009).

For the streusel
1 cup flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the cake
5 large eggs
1/4 cup milk, whole or lowfat
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 package (7 ounces) almond paste, cut into small pieces (or see below recipe to make from scratch)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 ounces) dried cherries

For the streusel: Combine the flour, brown sugar, almonds, salt and butter in a medium bowl. Work the mixture between your fingers to form large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray a 10-inch round springform pan with cooking oil spray. Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla in a large glass measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Combine the sugar and almond paste in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the almond paste is broken up into sandy pieces. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour 1/3 of the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the egg mixture and another 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add the remaining egg mixture and then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until all the ingredients are well incorporated and cake batter is smooth. Stir in the cherries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter and press on it lightly with your fingertips so it adheres to the surface.

Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 to 70 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to a wire rack. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Per serving (based on 10): 637 calories, 10g protein, 68g carbohydrates, 37g fat, 20g saturated fat, 173mg cholesterol, 229mg sodium, 3g dietary fiber, 41g sugar

Homemade Almond Paste
Makes 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces)

Adapted from a recipe at

1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place almonds in a food processor or high-performance blender, such as a Vita-Mix; cover and process until smooth. If using a food processor, you may need to add a couple of teaspoons of flavorless oil, such as canola, in order for it to become completely smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, egg white, almond extract and salt; cover and process until smooth.

Per ounce: 209 calories, 6g protein, 22g carbohydrates, 12g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 78mg sodium, 3g dietary fiber, 18g sugar

By Leigh Lambert  |  December 31, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Flour Girl  | Tags: Leigh Lambert, baking, cake  
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