if all has gone as planned, we have landed in vienna and i have already eaten 12 slices of cake. sacher torte! of course i can't be totally positive because molly of last week is writing this, not molly with (hopefully) 12 sacher tortes and a schnitzel in her belly.
luckily, molly of last week just made this cake, the annual valentine's day cake! because in my family, it's just not valentine's day without this fluffy almond cake.
out of all of the holidays and all of the recipes, this valentine's cake is the one recipe in my life that gets made once a year, every single year, at the exact same time. i love it so! it's so light and almondy and sometimes i think that i could eat an entire one all by myself but that wouldn't be very romantic, would it? take a look at last year's, 2013's, 2012's, 2011's, and 2010's.
this year's cake is entirely inspired by melissa's painted heart cookies. those cookies are the classiest valentine's day cookies i ever did see. i love a good paint set, especially when it's vodka filled and edible.
for my next painted cake, i intend to gather some inspiration around all of these viennese museums, but for now, stripes! hi there, stripes.
here is the thing: using this painting technique on this whipped cream frosting is actually quite fussy. it will work if you have some time and you keep putting it back in the freezer throughout the painting process for a few minutes to firm up as needed, but the nature of this whipped cream so gosh darn fluffy that eventually you keep disrupting the surface with your brush and that can get frustrating. so if you're wanting to bake this tasty almond cake and frost it as you wish, continue on to the recipe below. if you're wanting to decorate a cake using the water color technique, i recommend frosting a cake with buttercream or royal icing and letting it firm up real well before using melissa's technique for the painting.
valentine's day almond cake
makes 10-12 servings
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
preheat oven to 350ºf. prepare two 8- or 9-inch or three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
beat almond paste and egg yolks until well blended, mix in vanilla and almond extract, and set aside.
in a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. beat in sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then gradually fold in the flour mixture. pour batter into prepared pans and bake until a tooth pick comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes (for a 6-inch cake) or 25 minutes (for an 8 or 9-inch cake).
for the topping, whip up the whipping cream to soft peaks, gradually beat in the powdered sugar and almond extract, and continue whipping to stiff peaks.
decorate as desired! (see headnote for some words about the watercolor technique.)