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Caramelised Almond Buttermilk Cake


Crispy caramel praline covering light buttermilk cake. This is seriously addictive cake for all the lovers of caramelised nuts. Perfect mix of soft, light and crunchy textures. The cake is airy - thanks to the mix of buttermilk and lemon juice. Only slightly spiced and flavoured by cardamom (optional but recommended) and lemon zest which bring out sweet and woody notes of almonds. Then, the praline...crunchy, full of toasted nuts - perfectly complementing light and airy cake. It’s one of those sweet treats that can convert even the most resistant cake doubters.



Few words about the inspiration behind this cake.

Fika. One word which explains everything - joy of being in a moment, taking things easy and enjoying the art of slow living. We have mentioned this word few times when baking Nordic classics. This cake is one of them. Caramelised Almond Cake (Toscakaka) is a part of Nordic culinary heritage. When travelling through Scandinavia you can find few different versions - some cakes are served as layered cakes with delicious creams and a thin layer of caramelised almonds, in some versions caramelised almonds are served on thin sponge, in other versions spices are added to the cake batter. Whatever version it is - one thing is for sure - almond praline is to die for!



The cake recipe we are sharing with you is our adapted version of recipe from Scandalicious Baking by Signe Johansen. We bake our cake on buttermilk, adding lemon juice, lemon zest and cardamom for slightly softer and spiced version of sponge. The method and praline ratios are as per Johansen's recipe.



In terms of baking - this is a quick bake with a little twist at the end. Dry ingredients are mixed with wet ingredients to create light buttermilk cake.


Few hints:

- eggs (aerate the batter) and buttermilk (reduce risk of soggy bottom) should be at room temperature,

- take time beating eggs (your fluffy cake base),

- do not over-mix the batter when combining dry and wet ingredients.


Cake is baked for some 30-35 minutes (without almonds). In a meantime, praline is prepared by simply cooking for few minutes toasted almonds with the rest of ingredients. Once the cake is baked, it’s covered with caramelised almonds and baked together at higher temperature for some 6-8 minutes. The cake needs to be cooled for some 10 min before releasing from spring form and for another 30 minutes for the texture to set. You will need bread knife to serve this cake (to cut through caramelised almonds).




All in all - quick bake, full of flavour, with great mix of crunchy and light textures - one perfectly complementing the other.



Caramelised Almond Buttermilk Cake Recipe


Yield: 12 servings

Time: 30 min prep + 35 min baking (+6-8 min baking with caramelised almonds)

Tin: 23 cm spring form (or round tin with removable base)


Ingredients:

For the buttermilk sponge:

- 2/5 cup (100ml) buttermilk, room temperature

- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) clear lemon juice

- zest from 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)

- 80g unsalted butter, melted

- 1 and 1/2 cup* (225g) all-purpose flour

- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or seeds from 2 cardamom pods milled with flour (optional but recommended)

- 1/4 teaspoon salt

- 4 large eggs, room temperature

- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar


For the caramelised almond praline:

- 125g unsalted butter

- 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (125g) light brown sugar

- 4 Tablespoons (60ml) full-fat milk

- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

- 150g flaked almonds, toasted


*cup = 250ml cup


Method:


1. Preheat oven to 160C. When preheating oven toast almonds: place on large baking tray and toast for 6-8 minutes at 160C until light golden and crunchy. Line the bottom of spring form with parchment paper and lightly grease the sides.


2. Prepare wet ingredients: Mix buttermilk with lemon juice and lemon zest. In a small pot melt butter. Set aside.


3. Prepare dry ingredients: Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, cardamom (if using), salt. Set aside.


4. Prepare creamy cake base: On medium speed beat eggs for 1 minute until fluffy. Start adding sugar - 2 Tablespoons at a time and mix on medium speed making sure it's well incorporated in-between additions. It will take 3-5 minutes to incorporate the sugar fully.


5. Combine and bake buttermilk sponge: In 3 turns start adding wet (from Step 2) and dry ingredients (from Step 3) to creamy cake base (Step 4) alternating dry/wet/dry/wet/dry/wet and mixing only until ingredients are combined (don’t over-mix). Pour the batter into the baking tin. Bake the cake at 160C for 30-35 minutes. Check with chopstick or skewer if fully baked through. Some 20 minutes into baking start preparing caramelised almonds. In medium pot (with heavy bottom) melt butter, add sugar, milk, salt and toasted almonds. Cook on medium heat for about 6 minutes stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens and resembles caramel (watch not to burn). The caramel should be light golden to golden in colour and should easily detach from spoon (but should not be too runny).


6. Assemble the cake and bake with almond praline: Once the cake is baked take out of the oven. Increase oven temperature to 200C. Apply caramelised almonds on top of the cake and place the tin back in the oven. Bake at 200C for 6-8 minutes. The top is to be golden in colour and fairly set - you will see caramel starting to bubble up. Once ready, take out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes, then run thin knife around the edges and remove from the tin. Transfer to the cooling rack to cool completely. Let the cake set for at least 30 minutes before serving.



Hints:

1. Texture - we played around with texture of this cake and:

a) if you want to keep it more dense use milk (original recipe),

b) if you want even lighter, quick bite - you can skip butter altogether - keep the rest of ingredients intact. You will get slightly more eggy, super light, spiced sponge,

c) we settled for happy middle - buttermilk gave that texture. If you don’t have buttermilk you can substitute with kefir.


2. Caramelised almonds - the only watch out here is timing - keep it light golden in colour and watch not to burn. Timing used in the recipe should give you just that but be mindful of caramel changing the colour.


3. Storage - the cake stays fresh for up to 5 days.



Jazz it up:

1. Layered cake - in few places in Sweden we had this cake served as layered sponge cake. The taste was exactly the same, just in the middle it was filled with cream. Our favourite version was lemon/cardamom cream. This could be an option but we have not tested it ... yet :)


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