Each month when Food & Wine magazine comes I eagerly flip through the pages and dog-ear all the recipes I want to make. Do I ever make them? Rarely. Not that I don’t want to. I never seem to find the time to get through the ever-growing stack of recipes I want to try. And then a month comes and goes and a new issue of Food & Wine arrives and I repeat the process.
And then there was Cornmeal Almond cake.
In the March issue of Food & Wine there is a lovely recipe for Cornmeal Almond Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone. The picture made me drool and after reading the description I knew I had to make this cake. So I rushed to the store to gather my ingredients and begin baking. This recipe calls for 3 cups of almonds! I’m an almond lover so this was super exciting and intriguing. What would all these almonds – toasted and finely ground – do to the texture of the cake? I needed to know.
The cake took no time to make. After baking In the oven for 45 minutes, the cake is ready to cool and be slathered with a mascarpone whipped cream.
Can we take a second to talk about mascarpone whipped cream? Why isn’t all whipped cream made with mascarpone? Why? The resulting whipped cream is extra smooth with a subtle tang. It is incredible.
And the cake. Oh the cake. Buttery, nutty, with great texture and crumble. All those almonds exude amazing flavor into the batter and create a great texture for each bite. The mascarpone brings together the crumbly cake and the sweet strawberries adding a nice silky finish. The cornmeal is really a background player – this cake is all about the almonds.
Cornmeal Almond Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone
make one 9 inch cake
3 cups sliced blanched almonds (about 10 ounces)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Spread the almonds on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, stirring once, until golden. Let cool completely, then transfer the almonds to a food processor and process until finely ground but not pasty.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter with the sugar and vanilla, scraping down the bowl, until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at time, beating well between additions. Scrape down the bowl and beat the batter until fluffy, 1 minute. Beat in the lemon zest and juice. With a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the batter, then the cornmeal and the ground almonds.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, still in the pan, and let cool to room temperature.
In a large stainless steel bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar and whip until barely firm peaks form.
Run a thin knife around the side of the cake pan and invert the cake onto the wire rack. Place a plate on top of the cake and turn the cake right side up. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with the mascarpone cream and