well. you win some, you lose some, and sometimes you get possessed by an imaginary six-year-old while you’re decorating your annual valentine’s day cakes and they turn out looking like something that even a mask of seven vsco filters couldn't salvage. it's like valentine’s day of 2012 all over again.
i’m cursed, i’m definitely cursed. not only do these look like [that] but they’re also kind of dry?! which is likely because i over whipped the egg whites, baked them for too long, and/or made miniature versions. and then after i baked these i went on to burn a loaf of challah in the oven. and then beyoncé didn't win album of the year. and then i lost my mandoline blades. someone please send help.
it all started when the dryness of these poor cakes set an ominous tone for the rest of the weekend. i baked them on saturday and they had such a hard time wiggling out of the muffin pans, so the outsides looked ugly because of it. i took one bite and they tasted like an icky sponge, not the moist almondy airy-yet-dense amazing perfect cake that i look forward to every year. i thought i could maybe save them with enough whipped cream, but still all of my inspiration was sucked out of me and all night that night i tossed and turned because i didn’t have a clear plan for how i would decorate them. i thought about making princess cakes, or mini versions of valentine’s cakes from past years, or committing to only using all-natural decorations (since i’ve been on a freeze dried berry kick, and because a whole box of quin candy arrived last week with the most delicious heart lollies and gumdrops), but i couldn’t decide and i tossed and turned until finally i was like,
molly, you’re being a stupid head for stressing out this much about cake decorations. it's supposed to be fun.
so i just dove in on sunday morning with all of the pink things and heart things i had lying around, as well as the leftover frosting from saturday’s cookie decorating event at kittsona, and i had a lot of fun. and then when i took a step back to emerge for air, i was like, lol oh no these look like shit. oops?
what do we learn from this:
-don’t make this cake miniature. it's clearly best when the soft innards are maximized. maybe some cakes that are slightly more prone to dryness are just not meant to be miniature. but if you must: use a jumbo muffin tin with parchment liners and be careful not to over bake them. i’m tempted to say add a little more sugar and less flour, too. but i’m too haunted by this experience to test it again, so for now i’m sticking with a regular 9" or 10" cake.
-don't over whip your egg whites.
-don't let this cake sit out uncovered for very long. if you need to bake it in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it's cool and make sure it's air tight. freeze it if you need to bake it more than a day in advance.
and how do we cure a case of dry cake:
-i’ve heard that brushing it with simple syrup helps, but this has always sounded too sticky to me.
-cover it with whipped cream or frosting. i did that and it did in fact help quite a bit.
-rip it up and mix it into ice cream or a milk shake. i’m probably going to do this tonight.
-make cake truffles.
at least i had fun.
valentine's day almond cake
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
marzipan kneaded with red, pink, and purple food coloring
sprinkles of all sorts
preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 10” springform pan and set aside.
in a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.
in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (i usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. mix in the vanilla and almond extract. gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.
cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.
to make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks.
spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate as desired!