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While I love to experiment with different cake textures and flavors, the recurrent request in my house, especially when it comes to birthday requests, remains the ubiquitous butter cake. And though I suspect it must have something to do with the yummy melt-in-the-mouth factor, homemade butter cakes seem to charmingly convey the message “I made it myself” without actually having to say the words.

One step ahead of your regular vanilla butter cake, this stunning Almond cake, baked in a Bundt pan, has all the makings of a perfect birthday cake. It was my first and only choice when I started planning my mum’s birthday. “With almonds, almond extract, and almond liqueur all working together in this cake, there’s plenty of almond flavor for even the biggest almond fan.” I cannot help agreeing here with Jennifer from Bake or Break, even if I made the switch from liqueur to more extract. Other than the simple sugar glaze, this beauty needs nothing more a handful of toasted almonds on top to look pretty. My mum loved it so much that she did not want to share her cake with anyone 😛

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons almond-flavored liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup full cream milk

For the Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk together the flours.

  • Add salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. Using electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter.

  • Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beat well until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.

  • Mix well after each addition. Add liqueur, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Reduce mixer speed to low.

  • Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of milk. Mix it just until combined.

  • Transfer the batter to the pan and spread evenly. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is golden brown.

  • A pick inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool the cake in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes.

  • Flip cake onto a serving plate and leave it to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.

  • Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the cream, and the almond extract in a bowl.

  • Add more cream, a teaspoonful at a time, until the glaze has the desired consistency, thick but pourable.

  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and garnish with toasted sliced almonds. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Happy Birthday Mama!

Like any recipe with a great name, this Blueberry Boy Bait taken from Smitten Kitchen, also has a great story. In 1954, a 15-year-old girl stole the show (but only won second prize) in the junior division of an early Pillbury Bake-Off with a variation of this recipe, named, she said, after the effect it had on boys. Cook’s Country magazine dusted this recipe off from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Dessert Cookbook and made a few tweaks to bring it more deliciously into the modern age. Butter was swapped for shortening, the quantity of blueberries was doubled and some plain sugar was replaced with brown sugar. The result? Let’s just say you don’t need to be a boy to be lured in.

BLUEBERRY BOY BAIT

Ingredients:

For the Blueberry Cake

2 cups (250g) plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt or kosher salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (225g), softened

3/4 cup (145g) packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup (235 ml) whole milk

1/2 cup (85g) blueberries, fresh

For the Topping

1/2 cup (about 85g) blueberries, fresh

1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13″x 9″ baking pan.

  • Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed.

  • Beat till fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated, scraping down bowl.

  • Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk.

  • Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally add the remaining flour mixture.

  • Toss the blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries.

  • Spread batter into prepared pan. Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together.

  • Sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, for 45 to 50 minutes.

  • Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

  • Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. Makes 12 generous servings.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Though I have made [and loved] the classic pineapple upside down cake on more than one occasion, it never really occurred to me that I could actually use any other fruit… until I chanced upon this lovely apricot cake recipe on SusanEatsLondon.com. This delicate stone fruit simultaneously reminds me of a velvety peach and a tangy plum and works well in situations where it gets caramelized. Apricot jam is probably the best example of this wonderful pairing so you can almost imagine this as eating chunky apricot jam on a layer of rich butter cake. Serve it with a cloud of fresh cream and toasted almonds and you will find yourself slowly ascending towards dessert heaven.

APRICOT UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cake

10-12 ripe apricots, halved

125g unsalted butter

3 eggs, separated

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of 1/2 lemon

130g all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons yogurt

For the Caramel Topping

100g unsalted butter

75g caster sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Generously butter a deep cake pan and line its base with apricots, cut side down.

  • Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and set this mixture aside.

  • In another bowl, beat the butter with the brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy, and then beat in egg yolks.

  • In a third bowl, using clean beaters, beat egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add the white sugar.

  • Continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. For the caramel use a heavy, non-stick skillet.

  • Melt the butter, sugar, and lemon juice over medium-low heat till it starts bubbling. Add vanilla extract.

  • Continue to simmer, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, till caramel has thickened and turned golden.

  • Pour caramel over apricots. Now, fold the dry ingredients of the cake into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

  • Stir in yogurt. Mix in about a third of the egg whites to lighten batter, and then carefully fold in the rest.

  • Try not to over-mix. Spread this over the caramel covered apricots, and bake it for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the cake comes out clean or the center of the cake feels springy.

  • Cool in the pan for three to five minutes, then cover with a serving plate and flip. Makes 10-12 servings.

Apricot Caramel Upside-Down Cake

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