I love frosting. I love cupcakes with lots of frosting and cakes covered in big frosting rosettes. But sometimes a cake is just so delicious, you want the frosting to simply complement, not dominate. This raspberry almond cake gets that balance just right. The cake is rich and perfectly textured and the raspberry buttercream frosting adds a bright flavor and color. It’s loaded with real raspberries and topped with tender candied blood oranges, giving just a bit of bitterness to balance the sweet. All of the three components are delicious on their own. But together, they’re magic.
I’ve always loved this recipe for almond cake by David Leibovitz (who by the way, pinned one of my posts this summer. I blushed so hard when I saw it, my face looked like raspberry frosting. So neat!). There’s just something so elegant about it. It looks humble, but that rustic browned top is hiding a cake that is perfectly sweet, nutty and moist. I wish you could all taste it right now, because words just don’t do it justice. For this recipe, I’ve stayed with the original for the most part. If you choose to use the tart pan like I did, expect to have some seepage and put a baking sheet underneath to catch drips. Also use a tart pan with high sides, you really can only fill the pan up about halfway or it will rise right out of the pan. If you have extra batter, this makes excellent mini-bundts or cupcakes too.
The best part is that this cake is so adaptable. You can simply dust it with powdered sugar, or split the cake and fill it with jam. You can bake it into 2 or 3 rounds and make a layer cake with this Chocolate Almond Buttercream. Or just leave it in the pan and eat a half inch slice every hour for three days. That’s what we do.
The Raspberry Buttercream:
One of my favorite baking hacks is to use freeze-dried fruit ground into a powder. It allows you to add big fresh-fruit flavor without adding moisture that might mess up your cookies, frostings and meringues. This raspberry buttercream gets its flavor and color naturally, from just 1/4 cup of raspberry powder. You can find freeze-dried fruits at your grocery store near the raisins. I’ve found raspberry, pineapple, strawberry, blueberry and even mango. To make into a powder, just grind in your coffee grinder or food processor. If you don’t have either, just put the fruit in a freezer bag and whack it with a rolling pin or mallet to get it as fine as you can.
Making the buttercream is simple. Just cream the butter, then beat everything but the fruit. Then add the fruit and beat it some more! Simple. Make sure to use room temperature butter for this one as a softer frosting will be easier to get into the swoopy loose shapes that give this cake it’s charm.
The Candied Blood Oranges:
I am the first to admit that the candied blood oranges are optional. This cake is delicious without them. But they look super pretty. And they add a really nice bitter note. And it’s the perfect time for winter citrus. And they look so pretty.
If you do make these, be sure to start the day before you plan to serve your raspberry almond cake. These are pretty foolproof but heres a few things to keep in mind: Slice these thin. No more than 1/8 inch. If they’re too thick they’ll get tough and gummy instead of tender with just the right amount of chew. And don’t skip the blanching and ice bath. It seems unnecessary, which is why I skipped it the first time I made them but it really does make a difference. The texture of the rind is just not quite right if you don’t blanch them. Reserve the ends of your oranges that were too small for slices and squeeze their juice right into the sugar syrup. Waste not, want not! And finally, I tried both sugaring and not sugaring the slices and preferred them without. But if you want them to be less sticky, definitely sprinkle them with a bit of sugar once they’ve dried out overnight.
Raspberry Almond Cake:
I hope you’ll give this one a try. It’s a really special flavor combination, looks so cheerful on a cake plate in the kitchen and will give you bragging rights at your next dinner party. Or pajama party. Or party of one.