I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on the ground (April in Northern Nevada, y’all…) and the realization that I’ll be birthing my second real human baby in 7 weeks. YIKES. I have a ton to do the next month or so around the house and in prep for taking some time off to soak in that new baby girl goodness and also adjust to parenting TWO children.
Ever since Casper was born (nearly 4 years ago now! HOW?!) my cooking and baking style has simplified. I mean, I still take on more extravagant baking projects–I will always and forever love a layer cake–but more often simple desserts like this Almond Cake with Macerated Strawberries make their way out of my kitchen. I love to have people over or just share something sweet with my friends + family and anything made with a bowl or two in a single pan are my go-to (ahem, these brownies for example) and this tender almond and orange scented cake crusted with toasty flaked almonds is no exception.
One of my favorite things about this cake, besides how easy it is, is the nutty crunch of the almonds on the outside of the cake. It adds so much delicious texture and looks damn pretty if I do say so. You just brush the pan in melted butter and the almonds adhere, toasting in the oven as it bakes to golden perfection. I wanted to keep the topping for this cake simple with just a crown of créme fraîche fortified whipped cream and simple, fresh macerated strawberries.
I use a 10-inch springform pan for this cake, which makes it easy to release from the pan without having to flip it out and lose any of those crunchy almonds. Make sure your butter is doesn’t solidify between brushing the pan and adding the almonds, they stick best to still melted butter.
The method for making this cake may seem a little unconventional–you work the butter into the dry ingredients until you achieve a sandy texture, then add your liquid in two stages to get a smooth, silky batter. This technique produces a fine, tender crumb that is my absolute favorite for any cake. Bonus, this method makes it difficult to overmix your cake as the fat in the butter coats the flour and inhibits it from activating the gluten (preventing chewiness)!
Don’t have créme fraîche? That’s okay! Sub it out with sour cream or even Greek yogurt. The result will be an equally delicious cloud of sweet cream with a little bit of tang from the cultured dairy.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour (6.6oz/187g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (7oz/199g)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ scant teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (3oz/85g)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ¾ cup flaked almonds (3oz/85g)
- Melted butter for the pan
- For topping:
- 1 lb. fresh strawberries (454g)
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (from the zested orange)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup creme fraiche
- 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush melted butter all over the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment and butter the parchment as well. While the butter is still wet, scatter the flaked almonds over the bottom of the pan and tilt to coat the sides, the almonds should stick to the butter, press the almonds on if you need to. Dump out any almonds that don’t stick and reserve for the top.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a mixing bowl and hand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, kosher salt, and butter together. Mix on medium speed until the butter is incorporated into the mixture and becomes sandy. In a large measuring cup or spouted bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, canola oil, and almond extract together. Beat half of the wet mixture into the sandy dry mixture, until well combined and there are no dry bits left, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in the remaining wet mix until you get a smooth batter. Spread the batter into the pan and top with the reserved almonds.
- Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, the top springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a rack for 20 minutes before releasing from the pan. Cool completely on the rack before topping.
- While the cake bakes, macerate the strawberries. The longer they sit, the more juices they will release. Rinse, stem, and slice the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the orange juice and sugar. Allow to sit until the strawberries soften a bit and release their juices, at least 30 minutes.
- While the cake is cooling, beat the cream and creme fraiche together with confectioners sugar until you get a medium-soft peak. Once the cake has cooled, top with the cream and strawberries, serve immediately.