I'm sure that I could have come up with something else to do with the whipping cream and ground almonds (they're almost finished!), but even in this heat, turning the oven on to bake a rich, sweet, chewy, crumbly cake was appealing. Not the heat it would create, but the cake we would have to snack on while sitting outside!
I added in some dried sour cherries for texture and to counteract the sweetness, and then threw in some chocolate chips, just because! Who doesn't love chocolate chips, especially when they're warm and melty...which is all the time in this heat, not just when the cake is just out of the oven.
Start off by turning the oven on to 350F to heat while you make the cake batter.
Lightly grease a bundt pan, and pour 1/4 cup of ground almonds into the bottom. Tilt the pan to spread the nuts around, making sure that the bottom is coated.
Using an electric mixer, cream:
4 ounces soft butter
1 cup sugar
When the butter and sugar are light and fluffy,
add, one at a time:
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Measure the dry ingredients into a small bowl:
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
Add a third of the dry ingredients to the mixer, and mix on low speed until just combined.
1 cup of whipping cream
Add half to the batter, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Scrape the bottom of the bowl down.
Repeat the last two steps, and then add the last third of the dry ingredients.
1/2 cup roughly chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Mix until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven to bake.
Bake until the cake is golden, cracks around the centre and a wooden skewer inserted into it comes out clean.
This takes between 30 - 45 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- I did not have enough whipping cream, so I used half whipping cream and half milk. You can use all milk; the whipping cream adds a richness to the cake. You can use creme fraiche if you want; you can also use 1/4 cup sour cream and 3/4 cup milk...this will replicate creme fraiche to a certain degree, adding a tang and richness to the milk.
- Strong coffee can be added to the cream, no more than 2 tablespoons. Use strong espresso or instant coffee dissolved in warm water.
- If you are using salted butter or margarine, omit the salt. I find that there is more than enough salt in the butter (or margarine).
- The almond extract is optional, just increase the vanilla slightly. If you have lemon or orange extract that would be nice; lemon or orange zest could be added to the batter instead for the same effect.
- If you choose to use other nuts, try some of the following: hazelnuts, Brazilnuts, pecans or pistachios.
- The dried sour cherries can be omitted, or other dried fruit such as cranberries, blueberries, raisins or chopped apricots can be used instead.
- The dried fruit can also be soaked in warm water, juice, tea or liqueur before adding it, for extra flavour.
- I used milk chocolate chips; use your favourite kind. If you have a slab of chocolate use a vegetable peeler to shave it, and add the shaved chocolate to the batter. The chocolate can also be omitted.
- Replace 1/3 cup of flour with cocoa to make a chocolate batter.
- The cake can be frozen, whole or pre-sliced, with each slice individually wrapped...a quick snack ready for school or work.
- Instead of a bundt pan, the cake can be baked in 2 loaf pans or an 8" square pan.
- Consider serving it warm, with a scoop of ice cream and some fresh berries, or with fresh whipped cream...add some Amaretto while it is whipping.