Scandinavian Almond Cake and a New Look
February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
Is it possible to love a place you’ve never been? I think so. You see, I have an affinity for northern Europe and I’ve never been there. The landscape, the weather, the history and culture, the design aesthetic; the list could go on and on. One of the things that I like best about being Canadian is the variety in heritage and background, the different cultures and lands that have been transplanted to this country. I love finding out about people, where they come from and the stories that go along with this. Ironically, I know very little about my own background. All I really know is that I’m a third generation Canadian who is predominantly Norwegian and Scottish with a little German and Spanish thrown in there. My entire life I’ve never really felt as though I belonged anywhere, that I have no sense of my own roots. It wasn’t until I went to Scotland that I had the overwhelming feeling of coming home. It sounds cheesy writing it, but arriving in Edinburgh was the emotional equivalent of slipping into a hot bath. I sighed in contentment, wiggled my toes and didn’t want to get out. Maybe this was simply the copious amounts of single malt that was imbibed, but the romantic in me likes to think of it as a primal recognition of my homeland. I feel as though Norway would elicit the same response.
When one of my favourite bloggers, Emma of Poires au Chocolat, wrote up a recipe for a Scandinavian almond cake, I knew I had to adapt the recipe to suit my gluten-free needs. And boy, am I glad that I did! This cake has two contrasting textures, which makes for an interesting mouth feel. The cake itself is quite light and spongy and isn’t overly sweet, while the almond caramel praline topping is crunchy, chewy and sugary, the way all good caramel should be. You can find the original recipe here: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2013/01/toscakaka-caramel-almond-cake.html.
For the cake:
- 70 ml milk (I used goat)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 75g Earth Balance (or the vegan shortening of your choice)
- 3 eggs
- 150g sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g gluten-free flour*
- 1 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the caramel:
- 150g flaked almonds
- 100g Earth Balance (or the vegan shortening of your choice)
- 125g brown sugar
- 50ml milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 320F. Grease an 8-9″ round tin (I actually used my 10″ pan that has the removable bottom and it turned out just dandy) and line with parchment.
- Mix the lemon juice with the milk and let it sit.
- Toast the almond flakes for 5 minutes until lightly golden in colour and set aside (remove from the tray or they will keep cooking and may burn).
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Whip the eggs, sugar and vanilla together on high for 5 minutes, until thick and yellow.
- Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold in. Add half of the milk and fold in. Repeat this process until all the flour and milk have been used.
- Add 1/2 of the melted butter to the batter and fold in, repeat with the remaining half. Emma’s advice is well taken: “Be gentle but thorough, scraping the bottom – it’s easy to get little pockets of flour.”
- Transfer to the pan, tap to remove any air bubbles and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and set.
- Once the cake has been in the oven for 15 minutes, place the toasted almonds, shortening, sugar, milk, salt and vanilla into a saucepan and stir until everything is melted and has thickened up nicely.
- Once the cake has baked for 25-30 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 390F, remove the cake and pour the caramel over the top. Spread the almonds evenly, return to the top rack in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes more, until the topping is deep brown and bubbling.
- Cool, loosen, remove from pan and enjoy!
*I tend to make my own all-purpose mix in a large batch and just keep it in the fridge. That way it’s ready and waiting for me whenever I need it.
For the gluten-free flour mix:
- 2 cups brown or white rice flour
- 2/3 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch
- 2 tsp xanthan gum