When I left my job where I worked 12-hour shifts, the team of people I worked with gave me two very generous gift cards. One was for Ann Taylor where I buy most of my clothes, and the other was for Amazon. The gifts from them were particularly generous in part because for the 20 months I worked with all of them I baked something for each and every shift (well... except that one which they never let me forget.) Therefore, when I got the Amazon card I decided to spend every single penny on baking books. Because I could. And I wanted to. And here is what I bought:
I also inscribed each of them with the team motto on the inner cover (Team 3: We build no egos) just so I would always remember where those particular books came from. I have been excited about all of the books, but by far my favorite so far is one I had never heard of: All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray. In fact, since buying that beautiful stack of books, I haven't used any of the other books -- I keep coming back to that one.
This recipe came from that book, but was attributed (as the title shows) to Paula Deen. Most of the time when I make a Paula Deen recipe I feel like should refer to her as "she who shall not be named" since my friend Burkie, who frequently partakes of my baking, just can't stand the woman. His hatred of Paula Deen is pretty much as complete and thorough as my hatred of Martha Stewart. At least Paula's recipes work most of the time and taste good, which is why I'm usually willing to give them a try, despite Burkie's hatred. (Unlike Martha who I have banned from the house with only a few far and in between exceptions.)
One thing about this recipe is that the mixing instructions for this cake are very odd. Instead of creaming the sugar and butter and then adding the eggs one at a time, followed by the extracts, and then alternating the dry mixture and sour cream -- which is standard -- you cream the butter and sugar, then add all the sour cream, and then alternate the flour with the eggs, and ending with the extracts. Weird. I'm so used to making cakes the first way I listed, that I very nearly didn't even read the instructions before I started adding the eggs.
I'm not quite sure what exactly happened to this cake in the oven, but I suspect the mixing technique had something to do with it. When I pulled the cake from the oven I started laughing because the center of the cake had risen quite a lot more than the outer edges. The good news is that something like that does not affect flavor at all. In fact, it gave it a bit of a crispy shell along those parts and I do love me some crispy cake shell. Overall, strange middle aside, the cake was moist with a nice almond crunch and flavor, and I can see repeating it in the future. However, while I would make this cake again, I actually have a similar recipe from my Tish Boyle Cake Book that I liked a bit more -- her Cherry-Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake. However, I have not blogged about that particular cake so I suppose I now have an excuse to make it again.
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temp
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat the oven to 325. Put the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet while the oven is pre-heating and toast for 3 minutes. Pull them out and toss them around a bit, then put them back in the oven for 3 more minutes until aromatic and slightly golden. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan or 10-cup tube pan with baking spray.
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and slowly add the sugar. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.
In a separate bowl mix the flour and the baking soda together.
Add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until blended. Add 1 egg, then beat until blended. Repeat until all the flour and eggs are mixed in.
Add the orange extract and the almond extract and beat until blended into the batter.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula fold in the toasted almonds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully unmold it and allow it to cool completely on a cake rack.
Dust lightly with powdered sugar.