Last week I finally watched “Silver Linings Playbook” and I thought it was a good movie – not a great one. I don’t really get all the fuss about it, or the several award nominations, especially for best picture and best director – Paul Thomas Anderson should be in David O’Russell’s place, or at least Ben Affleck should because of his super popular “Argo”. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic – she’s my girl crush, you know that – but in a perfect world her performance would never top Naomi Watts’ in “The Impossible” (I’m comparing the performances I’ve seen, that is why I haven’t mentioned the other Best Actress nominees). Oh, expectations.... they can be tricky buggers, sometimes: everyone was talking about this movie so much, I think I expected too much. Luckily that can work both ways: I expected Rachel Allen’s cookbook on cakes to be good, but it turned out to excellent.
Swedish almond cake (Toscatårta)
from the oh, so beautiful Cake (I bought mine here)
3 large eggs
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted
50g unsalted butter
100g flaked almonds
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 23cm (9in) springform or loose-bottomed cake pan* - if you’re using a spring-form pan, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and the sugar for 5-7 minutes, or until thick and mousse-like. Beat in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and pour in the milk and melted butter, then gently fold everything in until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist but not totally clean, as the mixture will still need another 10 minutes of cooking. Increase the heat to 200°C/400°F.
Topping: Just before the 30-35 minutes are up, make the topping. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it has melted, add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, allowing the mixture to bubble away for 1 minute.
After the cake has been cooking for the first 30-35 minutes, remove it from the oven and spoon the almond mixture evenly over the top. Place it back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden.
Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen around the edges and carefully remove the sides of the pan before placing the cake (still on the base of the pan) on a wire rack to cool completely.
* I made the exact recipe above using a deep 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom
Friday, February 15, 2013