Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Citrus-Almond Poundcake

A few years ago when I was obsessed with pastry-baking, I went through my citrus phase.  Anything that had citrus included that could be classified as a dessert was fair game.  And if it had hazelnuts or almonds in it, that made it all the better.  So when I saw this offering from Mark Bittman in the food section of our local Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California, I was jotting down a shopping list before I had a chance to even look through the entire recipe.
It was the ingredient halfway down the list that put the breaks on my enthusiasm.  Over a pound of almond paste.  Not cheap.  Unfortunately, I am.  I related my sorrow to a friend from Sicily who has more sense and kitchen ability than me who told me I could make my own.  Hmmmm  I hadn't thought about that before.  But it did seem more doable than shelling out big bucks for a tube of gold.  And a few tests later, I had a pretty decent recipe for almond paste down which I will include here.  If you have money to throw around and don't want to make your own, go ahead and buy it and while your at it, throw some of that cash my way.  Make sure you share this with your family, friends and people with whom you want to be friends.

Citrus-Almond Pound cake

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, plus more for pan
-flour for pan
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 cups plus
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 17-oz tube almond paste (or follow recipe below)
7 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350f. Butter and flour pan. Put lemon juice and orange juice and 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small sauce pan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Put almond paste and remaining sugar in food processor and process until well combined. And butter and continue processing until light and fluffy. With the machine running, add eggs one at a time along with zest and vanilla, and continue to process until smooth.
3. Stop machine and add the flour, baking powder and salt, and pulse a few times, just until the dry ingredients are integrated.
Pour into pan and bake until golden about 1 hour and 10 min. Let cool slightly.
4. Pour the citrus syrup over the cake and let it set for about 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the cake releases from the pan easily.

Almond Paste

Grind 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds in the food processor for about 2 min, add 1 cup icing sugar and process until well-blended. Stir in 1 teaspoon almond extract and enough egg white to make it come together in a thick paste.

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