Sunday, October 17, 2010


I had a moment of alarm when I got up two mornings after I had made butter ~ and buttermilk. I had the need to make something out of it quickly. I knew the feeling of regret that would sink in if I finished the butter before it had a chance to be a part of something bigger.

So off I went in raid of Smitten Kitchen's kitchen in search of a buttermilk cake. And I found it ~ a  raspberry buttermilk or 'any fruit' cake. I decided to add a generous cup of ground almonds to Deb's recipe. I loved the way it turned out. 

Over the years I have come to learn to decipher recipes. I know a cake is moist by looking at the proportion of sugar in regards to the rest of the ingredients, particularly flour. The more sugar there is in the recipe the more moist the cake will be because as the cake bakes the sugar turns to syrup. Unfortunately that also leads to teeth rot.

Too much butter, on the other hand, makes the cake greasy (denser and heavier) rather than moist so that you swivel to reach for a napkin to wipe your oil slicked fingers and lips with (if your fork went missing).

So in my book ground nuts make the perfect medium for adding that extra moistness and richness to a cake without the threat of wincing sugary-ness or slick greasiness because the oils from the nuts remain in the nuts and does not seep completely into the cake making the cake softly moist, delightfully crumbly and airy, while the addition of an extra non-sweet ingredient cuts through the sugar to make the cake subtly sweet.

What I also liked about this recipe was that it required only one egg. It was just enough to hold the cake daintily together. 

In nine words ~This recipe goes into my Greedy Book of Cakes.

This simple recipe had also produced the kind of cake that I like the look of ~ a cake that requires no adornment because I can always pass it off as rustic, charmingly  rough-hewn and with amusing sink holes. The last, definitely a giggling point.

What a pity the strawberries turned pale as the cake baked. But the cake was deliciously moist. 

This is a cake I will make again and again. Next time with kalaedoscopic bits of tutti frutties on top. Along with a little prayer that they don't all sink in.

The recipe ~ adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This is supposed to be a very thin cake. The recipe called for a 9 inch pan. I used an 8 inch pan. 

1 cup (130 gm) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick (56 gm) butter, softened
2/3 cup (146 gm) plus 1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional) (I opted out)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries or any fruit ( I used strawberries)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. Add the ground almonds and mix well. Keep aside. 

Beat softened butter and 2/3 cup of sugar until pale and creamy and light with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and egg and mix well.

At low speed mix in flour/almond mixture in 3 batches alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Spoon into cake pan and spread evenly. Arrange fruits on top as you like and sprinkle the 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar over the top evenly.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.


Percicilan said...

Aunty Zurinn!!!!
SnaP! I just made this myself but sans the buttermilk.. Just Milk and it tasted awesome!

Quinn said...

Nice....I think if you leave the strawberries in halves on the cake, it would have been more obvious. And yes, cakes like that always could be passed of as rustic, a very classic remark. I do not alter much when it comes to baking because it is a lot to do with Science, a subject I failed miserably back in school days...I like the addition of almond meal, it gives moisture and also Zurin, very smart!

Sarah-Jane - said...

Lovely photos as always Zurin. I've become a fan of almonds ever since the first attempt at financiers and then friands.

So - when are you publishing that cook book ? x

chow and chatter said...

wow great cake and wow great knowledge of baking

Luciana said...

mmm....this cake looks great and wonderful!!! kiss, :)

Bake-It-Myself said...

Hello Zurin, I'm easily attracted to cakes with fresh berries or fruits. This recipe incorporates ground almonds which is another must try for me. Tnx for sharing :)

busygran said...

Verrrry country style cake. The type I often associate with the cowboys' momma making. Great cake!

Federica Simoni said...

splendida e golosa questa torta! complimenti!!!ciao!

Ninette said...

Looks great, Zurin. I might try this cake with dried cranberries, which maybe I can soak in orange juice to plump them up and give a little orange flavor to the cake, along with some orange zest. It's fall here in the U.S. I have some whipping cream in my fridge -- I think it's destined to be butter!

Tina said...

Gorgeous cake!! I too love rustic looking cakes such as this. Thanks for the tip on using ground nuts to ensure a high moisture level in cakes...

I guess the strawberries sank because they are pretty heavy compared to blueberries perhaps.. the last time I baked something similar, I let the cake bake for about 20 minutes before placing the berries on top..I think it help the fruits not to sink too much..well, at least I that's what I'd like to think! :)

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Zurin, I smiled when I read about your sense of urgency to make the butter a part of something bigger :) this cake does look rustically beautiful.... Like what you would get from a farm house :D

Neo-Homesteading said...

this sounds so incredibly tasty!

Jennifer said...

Such a lovely cake! I love using almond meal in baked goods like this.

Zoe said...

look very delicious and good. Must try this recipe. Thanks for sharing :D

Elin Chia said...

Zurin...I like the rustic look of this cake. Don't worry about the 'pot holes ' :) I know it taste great and what more your own homemade buttermilk ! thanks for sharing the recipe :)

MaryMoh said...

Beautiful cake! I thought those 'sink holes' on top looks pretty. Thanks very much for sharing cake tips. I'm still trying to learn. So far I only know how to cut down on the sugar :D

pigpigscorner said...

For me, anything with ground almonds, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt or ingredients of that sort results in extremely moist cake! This sounds gorgeous!

Cool Chic Style Fashion said...

Un bellissima classica torta, deliziosa ciao

Bakericious said...

the cake looks great!

Unknown said...

That looks delish. I would never think of adding strawberries.

Danielle said...

This looks delicious! I would probably make it without nuts but that's just me(: I love your photos too! What type of camera do you use?

Kat said...

I just stumbled on this via Foodgawker, and am happy to say the cake's in the oven as we speak (mom's birthday is tomorrow and we're having a feast). Thanks for the fabulous recipe- and an excuse to use my ground almonds in the freezer!


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