We are on the cusp of berry season, strawberries are just finishing up, but a few blueberries and blackberries are hitting the stands. We’ll get some raspberries around here, but not too many. And of course, there are the other fruits like peaches and plums just starting to make an appearance. All the hues from the fruit add so much color to the farmers market, coming out of the green of early spring crops to the rich blues, purples, pinks and oranges of the start of summer.
In preparation for berry season, I thought I’d pull out a recipe from my files that is the perfect showcase for good berries. I’ve been making this for years. Versions of this appear in all sorts of community cookbooks – I don’t know where mine came from originally. But this simple cake is moist and rich with almond flavor, and very easy to whip up. You can keep the ingredients around easily, and any time you pull in a big berry haul from the farmers market, you’ve got an elegant dessert minutes away.
I made this again recently to photograph and triple-check the recipe and served it to my official tasters. I explained that I wanted to post it as a vehicle for the upcoming berry season, and they, unprompted by me, immediately began to rattle off the many, many ways this cake could be served. Of course, the berries and cream alone, or the berries slightly cooked and mashed with sugar or honey as a sauce. Topped with ice cream. Drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Sliced peaches macerated in sugar to let the juices flow. Sliced strawberries tossed with a little amaretto. And in the fall, stewed pears or apples, or dried fruits poached in wine. Not only was I impressed with my friends’ creativity, but I inadvertently made my point – one simple dessert, with a million variations, is a treasure of a recipe to have in your back pocket.
Simple Moist Almond Cake
You’ll find almond paste in a can in the baking aisle.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
8 ounces almond paste
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
Almond Whipped Cream (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crumble in the almond paste, add the eggs and almond extract and beat until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until thoroughly combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, the carefully remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with whipped cream and berries.
Almond Whipped Cream
You can substitute any liqueur to complement the fruit you are serving with the cake.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon Amaretto
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar (or to taste)
Pour the cream and the amaretto into a large bowl and begin whipping with an electric mixer. Drizzle in the sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.