Almond Cake and Failure

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My weekend failed cat.

This weekend was a failure.  Utter and total disappointment on all food fronts.  Although someone did buy me a drink at a bar that was not an alcoholic slushy.  That was probably the highlight.

Lets start with Thursday shall we?  Because we all know that the weekend truly starts then.

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Weekend cat.

Now, to be fair, everything I made was edible and pretty tasty.  But I’m a perfectionist and nothing was perfect.  So I was sad.

First up was cardamom kahlua ice cream.  I was inspired by a coffee cardamom ice cream recipe I read, but I wanted to up the ante and make it alcoholic.  And I made very tasty ice cream.  But I used too much kahlua so it never froze properly and actually ended up being a bit icy.  Lesson learned.  Next time I’ll cut down on the alc.

Alcoholic slushy cat.

Alcoholic slushy cat.

Secondly, we’ve got my favorite cake.  It uses egg whites, which I always have scores of lying around, and I can flavor it pretty much any way I want.  Its basically an almond cake (or a financier if you want to be fancy which I always do) with browned butter and some form of spice.  I decided to make it a ginger cake.  I also wanted to make it gluten free.

The problems with this cake started when I began browning the butter.  It exploded.  I don’t know what happened.  But the butter bubbled and bubbled and then took over my entire stove.  I eventually just put all the butter into my largest pot and prayed it wouldn’t expand anymore.  But the ginger with which I was infusing it had burned.  Also I had no more unsalted butter so I had to put salted butter in to make up for whatever butter had disappeared, which I could not measure so I estimated.  With cake.  All in all it was a disaster.

In terms of making it gluten free, well it was gluten free and it tasted like it.  I used a mixture of potato starch and rice flour to make up for the missing half cup of flour.  Slug said it tasted “Jewy” by which she means chewy and something you’d eat during Passover.  But the flavors were still good and somehow it wasn’t absurdly salty.  People still devoured it.  And the recipe with gluten and with non bubbly butter still makes the best cake in existence.

Cake not cat.

Cake not cat.

The final failure of the weekend had nothing to do with me and everything to do with a terrible Mexican restaurant.

I love Mexican food.  I really do.  Its perfect food.  High protein, high fiber, spicy chocolate, BEANZ.  Its all good.  Plus I work at a taco cart during the summer and I’m now used to being able to snack on the best guacamole I’ve ever had all the gosh darn time.

So I have high standards for Mexican food.  And this stuff was bad.  Terrible.  Overpriced.  They didn’t have pitchers of margaritas.  The beans tasted like they were from a can.  Everything tasted like it was from a can.  And there was sour cream all over the place.  Not authentic.  I was upset.  Peeved if you will.  Pissed more likely.

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Siegfried understands.

The Unadulterated Ginger Almond Cake with Gluten:

Adapted from The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle

5 ounces almond flour (or grind 5 ounces skinless almonds with 1 tablespoon flour)

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

225 grams (8 ounces) butter

3 ounces ginger, peeled and chopped

7 liquid ounces egg whites (5-7 egg whites)

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup candied ginger (optional), chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

Butter a 10 inch cake pan.

Mix together the flours with a spoon and set aside.

Place the ginger and the butter together in a medium sized pot.  Turn the heat to medium high and brown the butter until it emits a nutty, caramelized flavor.  Remove from the heat.

In the bowl of a bain marie, whisk together the egg whites and the two sugars.  Keep whisking over simmering water until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch.

Once the egg whites are done, whisk in the flour slowly.  Once that is all incorporated, begin adding in the butter a 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to whisk thoroughly after each addition.  Once all the butter is incorporated, mix in the chopped ginger.  At this point you can either refrigerate the batter for up to 4 days or bake the cake.

Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes.  It should not rise much.  Let cool completely.  Keep well wrapped at room temperature.  Lasts a week and in fact improves with more time left out.

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4 comments
  1. Concerned Citizen said:

    How do you brown butter?!

    • Eliza B said:

      Browning butter is actually quite simple. You are basically cooking butter over medium high heat until it caramelizes and emits a rich, nutty flavor. Some signs to look out for: when the butter begins to develop a foam, turn the heat down slightly. The foam will start to have little beige flecks in it. The butter liquid under the foam will change from clear yellow to golden yellow, and once it is at this stage, you should be able to smell the browned butter and you should take it off of the heat.

  2. I know weeks like that where everything you’re trying just comes out badly. It’s good you have a sense of humor about it! Can’t wait to see what happens this week!

    • Eliza B said:

      Oh yes, one cannot get down on themselves for messing up a recipe or two. I’ve made some pretty terrible food in my time, but its okay because as I’ve learned, I’ve definitely made some incredibly wonderful food as well. And besides, if I don’t laugh about things that go wrong, well whats the point?

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