Yesterday I spent the whole morning baking and cooking away in the kitchen, which is a terrific sign that I am slowly coming back to myself for real this time! I played music and as I waited for my dough to set in the fridge I was daydreaming about what interesting recipe I should try next. That hasn’t happened in a long while; not even the playing music in the kitchen part.
Annoyingly enough it seems to be a slow and gruelling step-by-step process. So far I can’t seem to sit still in front of the computer long enough to write about recipes I’ve been trying out lately. (Hello mountainous backlogs! I cryyy.) It’s a definite dint on my productivity– one that I find utterly uncharacteristic and annoying. I’ve never had problems related to not wanting to write before. I came close to gluing my butt on the chair, but in the end I admitted to myself that the only way I can break through this writer’s rut was to force myself to write, starting with a food post.
Now this recipe has been a long time coming. I made this many months ago and thankfully I have this teeny obsession with jotting my thoughts down, otherwise I would have some trouble recalling the experiences I had as I made and ate this cake. That’s the problem with prolonging the writing part too long after the making part. I do remember the cake being a little denser than I would’ve liked– quite literally tender rather than moist. Its cute shape complemented its wonderful smell. Plus it had that distinct buttery-nutty aftertaste that I find pleasant in butter cakes.
Undeniably, the crowning glory for this cake- both literally and figuratively- is the nut brittle on top that adds a sweet crunchy kick, making this cake a study in textural contrasts.
I make it sound so scientific.
The best part about this cake for me was making the brittle. First because I got to use hazelnuts for the very first time ever! Yay!
Secondly, it was about as close as I have gotten to legit caramelising, and for a moment I was terrified that the sugar will play its usual tricks on me and go the way I don’t want it to go. Thankfully I succeeded in making the crunchy nut topping. Pressing it onto the tube pan was equal parts fun and challenging. I was doubtful about whether the topping would end up sticking to the cake because it seems to take a liking to the pan more, but baking has taught me a lot about faith and instinct, which I put to good use as I made this. In the end I really like how this cake turned out.
Having not made anything similar before, I really love how the brittle created that glowing halo on top of the cake. It definitely catches one’s attention more than just your usual plain butter cake. I’m not sure if this recipe will work if a tube pan isn’t used though. Anybody who tries baking this in a regular cake or loaf pan please do give me a heads-up how the cake turned out for you.
Tender Butter Cake with Nut-Crunch Topping
Makes one 10-inch tube cake; 12 to 14 servings
For the glaze
- 5 1/2 Tablespoons 70 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup 50 grams sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup 70 grams coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup 50 grams granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup 50 grams light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons fine bread crumbs
For the cake
- 2 1/2 cups 300 grams cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 sticks, 255 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups 325 grams granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/4 cup 60mL whole milk
- 1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Generously butter a 10 x 4-1/4-inch tube pan. Bring all ingredients for making the cake to room temperature.
Make the glaze
- 2. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the almonds and hazelnuts and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the sugars and the honey, then stir just until the sugars dissolve and the glaze bubbles, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- 3. Pour the glaze into the prepared pan and let cool for another 5 minutes, then use a spoon or rubber spatula to distribute the glaze evenly at the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Add bread crumbs to the pan and tilt and tap the pan to coat it evenly.*
Make the cake
- 4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a sheet of wax paper of bowl. Set aside.
- 5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low speed until creamy, about 45 seconds. Increase speed to medium and add granulated sugar in a steady stream. Continue to beat until the mixture is very light in colour and texture, 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- 6. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated. If the mixture appears curdled, stop adding the eggs, increase the speed slightly and beat until the mixture looks smooth again. Resume beating at medium speed and add the remaining eggs until the mixture is fluffy ivory and pale in colour. This process should take about 3 minutes.
- 7. Toward the end of mixing, add the extracts. On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing after each addition until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Pour in the milk and mix just until blended and smooth.
- 8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula.
- 9. Bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes-- until it is golden, the top springs back when pressed lightly, and a round wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 minutes.
- 10. Invert a wire rack on top of the cake, invert the cake unto it and carefully lift off the pan. The glaze will now become the cake's topping, and any left over in the pan can be scooped out of the pan and stuck back on top of the cake. Let cool completely before serving.
- Storage: Place cake under a cake dome or cover lightly with aluminum foil and keep at room temperature for up to 2 days. The glaze does not freeze well but the cake can be refrigerated for about 2 days.
For the time being, it might be nice to take a chance and try this cake out! 🙂