A long time ago I watched “Magnolia” – because lots of people had told me it was my kind of movie – and got really disappointed; despite the bunch of awards and great cast – including my beloved Julianne Moore – I did not think the movie was all that. A while later, I decided to give Paul Thomas Anderson another chance and watched “Boogie Nights”, which to me was a far superior movie (despite having been made before “Magnolia”). I liked it and added one more strong performance to the handful I have seen by Mark Wahlberg so far. Last week, I finally watched "There Will Be Blood" – because of my love for Daniel Day-Lewis – and wow, he’s fantastic beyond belief as Daniel Plainview. The movie is amazing as a whole, well directed with a beautiful cinematography, and Lewis’ performance is absolutely unforgettable (as are many of his performances), but I don’t think it was better than Viggo’s Nikolai – and that is the only thing I did not love about “There Will Be Blood”. :)
A month or so ago I baked the most delicious almond cake up until then – the recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis (who happens to be DDL’s sister) became my favorite almond cake the minute I tasted the first bite. But Claudia Roden’s Tarta de Santiago, a cake from a book I want to buy as soon as possible and made with almond meal and almost nothing more, made me rush to the kitchen to try it – and now I love both cakes so much I no longer have one favorite almond cake: I have two. :D
Almond cake (Tarta de Santiago)
slightly adapted from Epicurious; the recipe comes from a book I cannot wait to buy
6 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Amaretto
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups (225g) almond meal (finely ground almonds)
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 28cm (11in) springform pan*, preferably nonstick.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and the salt in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl and set aside. Wash and dry the used bowl and the whisk. Again with the electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the granulated sugar to a smooth pale cream. Beat in the zests, Amaretto and vanilla extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.
Fold the whites into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so that you will need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites).
Pour into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool before turning out.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar. Or, if you like, cut a St. James cross out of paper. Place it in the middle of the cake, and dust the cake with confectioners' sugar, then remove the paper (I preferred to use a heart-shaped piece of paper).
* I made ¾ of the recipe above and used a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom (regular – not nonstick); I lined the bottom of the pan with a circle of baking paper and buttered and floured the paper as well.