Mini Almond Layer Cakes with Strawberry Preserves, Glaze Icing

Cakes, Spring, Sweet Recipes • 20 Jun 2014

I don’t really care for raw almonds with their rigid bodies and rough, barky jackets. That skin, the toasted cocoa colored paper, makes me crazy, the fibrous husks always sticking between my teeth, getting lodged in my throat; raw almonds, with their plump, chalky bodies and unpleasantly fragmented, dry casing please me none.

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My unnerving relationship with raw almonds does not translate to a wholehearted contempt for the nuts in their entirety. I like them toasted, roasted, coated in spice just fine. But almond pastries, cakes, and cookies leave me delighted, practically breathless, with their intrinsically sweet, nutty flavors, sticky interiors and buttery textures.

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For Father’s Day, I made my husband syrupy sweet almond cakes, sticky and gooey and densely nutty, reminiscent of moist pound cake, rainbow cookies and petit fours. Three syrupy tiers are layered with late spring strawberry jam, conceived with a modicum of effort. The batter is rich with almond flavor, baked with sticky marzipan, flaky almond flour and slightly bitter almond extract. The cake is moist, almost lazily retaining spring’s humidity, tinted with fragrant, cherry-red jam and draped in a cloak of pearly white icing glaze. I top each with delicate edible flowers procured from Windfall Farms.

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The cakes were a huge hit with not only my husband, but also with my son, who has been begging for a redo ever since the last morsel slid down his throat. Almonds at their finest are baked into cakes.

Mini Almond Layer Cakes with Strawberry Preserves, Glaze Icing

Quick Strawberry Preserves:
8 ounces strawberries, roughly chopped
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Almond Cake:
7 ounces almond paste
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs, separated, plus one egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Icing Glaze:
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2-3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Make the preserves. Add strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the fruit begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer jam to a canning jar and cool at room temperature. Seal and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

2. To make the almond cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a rimmed baking sheet and dust with flour. Line with parchment paper.

3. Combine the almond paste, sugar and almond flour in a food processor and blend until the almond paste is finely ground and the mixture resembles course meal. Add the almond extract and butter, a few tablespoons at time, and process until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Scrape down the sides of the food processor if necessary.

4. In a small bowl, sift flour and baking powder together. Transfer the wet ingredients to a large bowl and fold in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

5. Pour cake batter into the prepared baking sheet. Gently tap the baking sheet on the counter to remove any air bubbles and bake until just set, 22-25 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, remove from the oven. Let the cake cool completely in the baking sheet.

6. Once cool, put the cake in the freezer for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, puree the strawberry jam in a food processor and set aside.

7. Remove cake from freezer and flip onto a clean surface. Carefully remove parchment paper. Working quickly, stamp out circles with a 2-inch circle cookie cutter. You should get about 28 rounds. Place about 8 cake circles on a clean, parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover each of the bottom layers with an even coating of jam. Top with another circle, another layer of jam and then a third piece of cake.

8. Combine icing ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Place over simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the glaze is very smooth. Remove from the heat and allow cool for about 10 minutes, until the glaze begins to thicken and just begins to crackle on the top. Mix well with a spatula and pour glaze over each of the cakes. Allow the glaze to set and remove the cakes from the parchment using a metal spatula. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: Makes 8-10 mini cakes.

5 Responses

  1. Mira

    I have to make these . They look so delicious and so pretty .

  2. josh

    Hi, just wondering what sized baking sheet you used and how thick was the mixture spread on the baking sheet? P.s. I can’t wait to make these. ☺

    • I use an 18×13 cookie sheet with a 1-inch lip. I poured the entire mixture onto the cookie sheet and I believe it was just slightly less than 1-inch thick (it barely rises while baking). Hope this helps!

      • josh

        Thanks, I had to adjust to metric measurements, as I’m in Australia. They came out great. I used crystallised flowers i made with what I had in the garden.

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