Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chocolate-Almond Upside-Down Cake

I'll admit, it was the name that got me to try this recipe. I was looking for a nut based recipe for a birthday cake, and the words "chocolate" and "upside-down" just reeled me in. 

I love the idea of upside down cakes. A gooey caramelised almond topping on top of a chocolate cake base? Yes please! After making this cake, next time I'd change the chocolate cake recipe to a richer recipe, but not necessarily a sweeter one. The topping is more than sweet enough for me!

This recipe also gave me an opportunity to use up some of the local honey I'd been saving for a special occasion.

Heide Honey
Preparing the topping was relatively easy: to a copious amount of melted butter, brown sugar and honey were added. Freshly roasted almonds...

Lightly Roasted Almonds
...were then sprinkled on top ready for the cake batter and the oven.

Caramelised Almond Topping
I didn't have any buttermilk on hand, but found it easy (and cheaper) to make my own using a mixture of lemon juice and full cream milk.

Homemade Buttermilk
I'd somehow run out of mixing bowls when it came to creaming the butter and sugar (the dry ingredients would be taking up the only available mixing bowl I had), so I ended up using a cake pan. I wouldn't recommend this though - too much of the mixture got stuck in the sharp edges. 

Creamed Butter & Sugar
Triple sifting the dry ingredients made for a light and fluffy cake, although I do wonder if a denser cake would have been even nicer (or perhaps just too rich)?

Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda + Salt
After adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture in a few batches, and generous mixing in-between, the batter was ready to go on sit on the topping and go in the oven.

Cake Batter
The batter will displace some of the topping up onto the sides of the pan (instead of it sitting all at the bottom), but I think that's a good thing. It means the chocolate cake is completed coated in a sweet, crunchy layer. 

There's room for improvement in this recipe, but it's a wonderfully inspiring starting point for some future creations racing about in my head.


Chocolate-Almond Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Gale Gand's Chocolate and Vanilla

Ingredients:

Caramel Topping:
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/4 cups sliced or slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Cake
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method:
  1. Prepare the topping: Generously butter a 10-inch round nonstick cake pan. Pour the melted butter into the cake pan and swirl to coat the bottom; sprinkle in brown sugar. Drizzle honey over sugar and sprinkle evenly with the toasted almonds.
  2. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  3. Prepare the buttermilk by stirring together milk and lemon juice and leaving it to sit for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare the cake: Cream butter using an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together three times to make the cake extra light. 
  6. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine on low speed. Add half the buttermilk and continue mixing. Add another third of the dry ingredients, mix, and add remaining buttermilk and vanilla. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan.
  7. Bake until set in the center and springy, 45 to 55 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and immediately invert the pan onto a serving platter. 
  8. Let it sit with the pan still on top for 5 minutes so the caramel can soak into the cake a bit, before removing the pan. If the topping is sticking to the pan, warm the pan surface over a low burner to loosen the caramel and then pour it over the cake. 
  9. Let cool completely before serving.
Chocolate-Almond Upside-Down Cake