Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pecan Cake

I'm having a bad day. Okay, a bad week. It's stupid really, and I know I should just get over myself and move on, but I can't seem to. So I decided to bake a cake. Cooking makes me happy. I love mixing together all the ingredients and waiting to see what happens. The eating part is fun too, but I've never been a person who eats to solve her problems. So I searched through my cookbooks and landed upon an amazing recipe in James McNair's Cakes. It's for a Nut Cake and I chose to make it with pecans. I accidentally bought two bags of pecans at Trader Joe's the other day, so it seemed like an excellent way to use them. And boy is it. The cake is yummy, fragrant, nutty, and moist. I'm thinking that I'll make two cakes next time and frost them with cream cheese frosting and make a gorgeous layer cake. Yum. Here's a picture of the cake. Apologies for the giant slice missing from it. The directions said that it's lovely eaten warm from the oven. So I did.

The recipe:
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
5 eggs, room temp
1/2 cup light cream or half-and-half (I didn't have either, so I substituted 1/4 cup sour cream + 1/4 cup milk)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the nuts and 3/4 cup sugar. Grind to a fine meal. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder, and salt into a sifter and sift into a bowl. Add the ground nut mixture. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a KitchenAid Mixer fitted with the flat beater beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 45 seconds. With the mixer still running, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Continue beating at medium speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle the eggs and beat well, stopping at least once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the cream or half-and-half or sour cream milk mixture and the vanilla and almond extracts. Blend well. It will be quite liquidy.

Add the nut mixture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and a cake tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then turn the cake out to cool completely.

Transfer the cake to a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar. Use a cake stencil if desired. Serves 10.

Recipe taken from James McNair's Cakes by James McNair and Andrew Moore, published by Chronicle Books.


Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

Nice job on the substitution! Few can do that well. But in the future I'd say to try cognac instead of almond extract. Pecans are just fine on their own without almond extract and cognac backs up thir sexy buttery taste!

4/14/2005 11:33 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/15/2005 9:52 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Thanks for the suggestion!

4/15/2005 6:15 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Ack! I didn't mean to delete my original comment. I'll figure this thing out eventually....

4/15/2005 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Julie -- here we part company. One of my core beliefs is that when you combine two of the world's greatest creations, peanut butter and chocolate, you are committing a secular sacrilege. Viva peanut butter, viva chocolate -- separately!

4/17/2005 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We, the friends who enjoyed the fish tacos and the grapefruit curd, were lucky enough to get a slice of this cake to take home. I had a big piece for breakfast this morning, and it was delish. The hint of almonds really pushed it over the edge into the mouth-watering realm. Definitely try this one at home.

4/18/2005 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, was a beneficiary of the pecan cake. It was delish. I am an almond whore, I eat them every day. I thought the marriage of the two left little to be desired (though I wouldn't turn down a sample of any double-layers of this slapped together with cream cheese frosting that might occur in the future). Almonds are sexy, too!

4/20/2005 11:45 AM  

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