Recently I remembered a recipe that I adapted from one in an old issue of Eating Well magazine. As is usually the case, I had notes written all over it. Clearly I took it a few steps in another direction! I just got some incredible local honey and decided I had to make something special for Springtime and my g-free friends.
It looks dense, but it's surprisingly light. Toasted, ground almonds are used in place of wheat flour, and egg whites give it structure and leave it light.
A few tips about this recipe; be sure that the eggs are at room temperature before you beat them (they will hold the structure of the cake best). They should be frothy but they shouldn't form peaks. Stiff egg whites are harder to incorporate and the over-mixing may cause the cake to fall. Either way, it will taste sweet and nutty, so enjoy!
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: Serves 10
1 3/4 cups ground almonds (see instructions)
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup local, organic honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
15 whole almonds, blanched and halved (optional for decoration)
Apricot-Honey Whipped Cream
2 tbsp honey
1 dried apricot
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
To make almond flour: Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spread 1 3/4 cups slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes. (If using whole almonds, you will only need 1 1/2 cups for the flour). If you're pressed for time, an option is to buy almond meal. The cake will be heavier and darker, but it will taste pretty good.
Meanwhile, lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
When the almonds are toasted, remove from oven and allow to cool. In a food processor, grind the almonds until fine.
The next step it to make the batter. I put the steps in order (below) so you can see what you're looking for as far as color and texture are concerned.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, add the following ingredients; egg yolks, honey, vanilla and almond extracts, baking soda and salt. Beat on medium speed, with an electric mixer, until all are combined. Add the almonds a little at a time and mix until incorporated. This is best accomplished using an electric mixer turned to the lowest setting.
Using another large mixing bowl, beat the (room temperature) egg whites until very frothy (but no peaks) and about twice the volume. This should take between 1 and 2 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites into the almond batter. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.
Bake the cake on the center rack of the oven for between 25 and 30 minutes. The color should be golden. When a toothpick, inserted into the center, comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for approximately 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring of the springform pan. Leave the cake on the base of the pan and let it cool the rest of the way.
About an hour before serving time, make the Apricot-Honey Whipped Cream.
Put a medium sized mixing bowl in the refrigerator to chill.
Heat honey and dried apricot over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Remove from the heat immediately and stir to cool completely. Remove the apricot. Pour one cup of very cold whipping cream into the chilled bowl. On medium speed, whip the cream until it starts to froth. Slowly add the cooled apricot flavored honey and vanilla. Whip until it just starts to form peaks. It should be smooth and shiny.
When you are ready to serve, you can transfer the cake to a serving plate and decorate with almond halves. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle with honey.