Torta de Almendras (Cherry Almond Cake): European Throwback

Friday, June 7, 2013

This past month for The Hubsters birthday the kids wanted to bake him a cherry cake. Random? Yes. But I like random. Thankfully so does he. Cherries are beginning to pop up in the area, so I was thrilled when the kids came up with the idea to use cherries in the cake. I know The Hubsters isn't a huge fan of frosting, so I thought we'd make a simpler, more European style cake where the cherries could really shine.

 As I was researching for ideas, I remembered this one cake my grandma would make a lot during the summer. It was a really simple butter cake flavored with almond extract, vanilla, and used sour cherries (Eastern Europeans and Balkan folks are big on the sour cherries!). Sometimes she'd use fresh berries. I thought it would be perfect -- something lighter, very pretty, and included almond which was also a favorite flavor for The Hubsters.

We ended up making a version called Torta de Almendras -- an almond-flavored cake that we added fresh pitted cherries to. I sort of combined the traditional recipe with my grandma's -- added orange zest and cognac, and used buttermilk instead of whole milk mainly because that's what I had on hand. The cake turned out great -- a sort of sturdier clafoutis kind of cake with a stronger step in the almond direction. If you like almonds and cherries, you'll love this dessert. A simple dusting of powdered sugar on top in lieu of heavier frosting and it's a done deal.

Torta de Almendras -- Cherry Almond Cake
1 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
1 Tbsp brandy or cognac (optional)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/1 tsp fine salt
1 1/2 cup pitted cherries
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a spring form pan and set aside.

P.S. This is how a buttered pan looks like.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. These are your "dry ingredients."

Lightly whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract, orange zest, and brandy or cognac if using. Set aside. These are your "wet ingredients."

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow in color, and light and fluffy in texture, about 8 minutes. A standing mixer or handheld mixer will work great. Add the egg and mix until incorporated in.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low speed until just combined. Add 1/2 of the wet ingredients and continue to mix, then 1/3 of the dry, then the rest of the wet, and finally finishing with the final 1/3 of the dry. Each time you want to mix just until the ingredients are about 90% mixed all the way in. Over mixing the batter will give you a tougher cake in the end.

Remove from the mixer and using a spatula, gently scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in. The batter will be actually quite thick; thicker than a box cake mix batter for example. This is a denser cake, so don't panic about how thick the batter is -- you did it right.

Transfer the batter into the buttered spring form pan. Make sure it's evenly distributed in the pan. Next, add your cherries.

You can sprinkle them about in a rustic fashion or even create a pattern; up to you. You can also fold the cherries into the batter if you wanted them dispersed throughout the cake. Totally up to you. In the picture, I chose to do a pattern to show you.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then decrease the temperature to 325 (keep the cake still inside) and continue to bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about another 30 minutes or so (depending on your oven's strength). Remove from oven and let stand to cool.

Transfer cake to a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar when ready to serve.


Lita said...

This is beautiful. Love fresh cherry dishes. Thank you for sharing.

Wishes for tasty dishes,
Tumbleweed Contessa

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful cake. Thank you for sharing. I have a zillion plums right now. I wonder if I could use plums?

Wishes for tasty dishes,
Tumbleweed Contessa

Mishy said...

You can use plums for sure. That's the beauty of this batter. My grandma would make a version with plums as well that was amazing. I would scale back or even omit the almond extract though and go with just vanilla. Core and slice the plums into larger wedges -- depending on plum's size, maybe each half into thirds? That's how grandma did it. And arrange in a pretty pattern. I gotta do this now! ;)