UsedBlog Eats: Almond Ombre Cake
So, I was mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest, as you do — feeling equally inspired and inadequate, when I came across this photo or “pin”:
This cake spoke to me. It whispered sweet, nasty nothings about being out of my league and even going so far as to suggest I return to my side of the tracks and look for a more suitable project — rustic brownies, perhaps. This cake was the “Blaine” of my Pretty in Pink and I was going to bake it.
And so I followed the links and read the recipe on the drool-inducing food blog, Apt 2 B -Baking Co. I modified it a bit because I didn’t have the cherry preserves it called for and I personally don’t let anything as wholesome as fruit get between me and buttercream. I also used 10″ spring form pans which resulted in a lower, less impressive looking cake. But other than that, I stayed on the straight and narrow.
Almond Cherry Ombre Cake (sans cherries)
(as stolen adapted from Apt 2B Baking Co.)
- 1 1/2 cups, 3 sticks, softened butter
- 9oz/ 255 grams almond paste, room temperature (I found it in the bakery section of the grocery store)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350º and butter and flour (or use parchment paper) 2, 8”round cake pans. I used 10″ pans and reallllly wish I had used smaller pans to get the height. You’re going to be torting or cutting cake layers and the higher the cakes the easier, more impressive this is.
1. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix the almond paste and sugar until the almond paste is broken up into small pieces. Cut up the butter, add it in and beat until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.
3. Add in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients.
4. Divide the batter between the two pans, shake the pans to make the batter even, smooth the tops and pop them into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I had to bake mine a little longer, but I have a cruddy oven. I’d keep a keen eye. There’s nothing worse than burned cake. NOTHING.
Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert on a cooling rack and cool completely.
Now, let’s make some buttercream!
Simple Buttercream Frosting
- 1 lb softened butter
- 2 lbs sifted confectioner’s sugar (a 1kg bag)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4-1/2 cup room temp milk
- big pinch salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer or with a hand mixer cream the butter until it is well mixed, about 1 min. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 min. Add the salt and vanilla extract. Slowly stream in the milk until the frosting is soft, smooth and spreadable. If you plan on finishing the cake with an ombre design it is helpful if the frosting is very soft, but not runny at all. I wound up using a whole half cup of milk here. I’d also like to take this moment to declare my undying love for my KitchenAid Mixer. I. Love. You.
You now have mounds of gorgeous buttercream and 4 nifty golden cake layers. Time to put Blaine together!
- offset spatulas – small and large
- pink food dye (or whatever colour you like)
- cake turntable (optional) or plate big enough to hold your cake
If you like jam or fruit in your layer cakes cherry jam is the jam of choice here. But I hear raspberry or apricot will do just as well. I’ve shared my feelings about fruit in cake earlier, so this decision is between you and your gods.
Yossy of Apt 2B Baking Co created a perfectly awesome Flickr tutorial for putting this cake together. I suggest you take a boo here.
So, now you know the correct way to do it, here’s how I did it.
1) Once cool, trim each cake flat on the top, then in half horizontally. You will have 4 layers of cake when you are finished. It’s really important that the cake is completely cooled before you do this. If you’re baking ahead, you can always chill or freeze the cakes to make this easier. I’m impatient so I didn’t bother refrigerating and the cakes cut like a dream. Like I mentioned I used 10″ pans and even with thin cakes, I was able to slice nice layers without a problem.
2) If you have a cake turntable, congratulate yourself and grab it. I highly recommend you get one. They’re cheap and make cake decorating a breeze. But, rest assured many beautiful cakes have been made without one. Anyhoo – anchor the bottom layer of cake to the turntable or your serving plate with a bit of buttercream.
3) Spread a thin layer (about 1/3 cup) of buttercream on the bottom layer. If you’re adding jam or preserves, make sure the frosting is thicker on the edges to create a dam to hold the fruit. If you’re going this route, smear a couple of tablespoons of jam on top of the buttercream.
4) Add the next layer and repeat the above process until your cake’s all put together. Reserve your flattest layer for the top.
5) Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and refrigerate for a half hour. Crumb coating creates a better surface to frost over and it holds in the crumbs — hence the name. Smart. It’s done when you can gently tap the the frosting and nothing comes off on your fingers.
While the cake chills watch one of the most awesome scenes from Pretty in Pink (optional, but highly recommended)
Now, let’s mix some frosting. To coin a phrase of a friend, “the world is really coming up ombré” lately. What’s ombré? Basically it refers to colour that is shaded or graduated in tone. From jean shorts to celebrity hair, one could soundly argue that this trend is over and done with. But for cake, I say it stands a lovely technique.
1) Split the remaining frosting into 4 bowls, tint three of the bowls dark, medium, and very light pink using food coloring. Look at the Flickr photos again to get a good idea or wing it. You can go as light or dark as you like, as long as you have a nice range from dark to light. I used Wilton’s rose gel food coloring and only had to use a teeny bit even for the darkest tint. Leave one of the bowls white for the top of the cake.
2) Starting at the bottom of the cake with the darkest color, use a small offset spatula to apply frosting to the bottom 3rd of the cake, then follow with the medium color in the center of the cake and the lightest color towards the top. This is where I lament AGAIN my short cake layers. Take it from me, it’s pretty hard to ombré with only a few inches of cake.
3) Top the cake with white frosting to finish. Using a tall spatula, smooth the frosting on the sides as much as possible. The colours will mix a bit, but that’s okay. Just try not to blend them together. Smooth the top.
4) Here’s where we get fancy. Finish the cake by holding the tip your smaller offset spatula horizontally, pressing gently on the frosting at the bottom of the cake. Smoothly spin the cake turntable while simultaneously dragging the spatula up the side of the cake, stop when you get to the top. Wipe the spatula clean, then gently press the tip of the spatula into the middle of the top of the cake and spin the turntable while simultaneously dragging the spatula towards the outside of the cake. I was kind of freaking out here, but it was surprisingly simple. The cake turntable really helped.
You can see my version below. It’s not nearly as impressive, but it has it’s own charm. And it was DELICIOUS. Honestly, I think it’s the nicest cake I’ve ever baked. The almond cake layers were so tasty with the buttercream.
I will say, it’s sweet. Like, really, really sweet. Maybe the jam would cut through that a bit. But for me, I didn’t mind the intensity. I just served smaller slices.
I plan to make this cake again for Easter. I think the delicate pastel pink will suit the occasion perfectly. Final thoughts? This cakes seems like more work than it is. It was really quite simple and it’s a definite crowd pleaser. In the end my “Blaine” was maybe a little more “Ducky” than I intended, but I’m pretty (in pink – so, sorry) okay with that.