Every month, I gather with a group friends for a cooking club where each of us cooks, bakes, or tosses together a dish of our choice for a collaborative theme. This month was Indian. I am no guru in the kitchen, and all the recipes I found seemed really complicated (i.e. something I would potentially destroy), so I thought it was the perfect time to try out a recipe that I found earlier this summer: Almond Saffron Cake. It was also the perfect excuse for my perpetual sweet tooth to get its fix for the exotic. This turned out to be a great dessert for the hot August weather because there is no heavy frosting, the flavor was nice and light, and it goes well with all those delicious summer drinks we love.
Image taken from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/almond-saffron-cake-10000001707441/
Note: This recipe makes 2 cakes, so cut the recipe in half to bake only one (but trust me, you’ll probably want two).
Butter or nonstick spray, for baking pans
1/3 cup milk
Generous 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups all-purpose flour (stir flour before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup almond paste
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (plus an extra few tablespoons for the glaze)
5 large eggs
8 oz whole-fat sour cream
Juice of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
Sliced almonds (for garnish)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or spray two 8-inch round cake pans. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm milk and add the saffron and zest. Bring to a low simmer, and remove from heat; set aside.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together butter and almond paste until creamy, roughly 3 minutes. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides. Add eggs one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture (from step two) alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add saffron mixture, beating just until blended.
4. Pour batter into prepared cake pans, and smooth tops. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top reaches a nice, golden yellow (I recommend the toothpick test on this one: stick a toothpick in the center; if it comes out without batter on it, your cake is done!). Cool for 5 minutes.
5. While the cake is cooling, you can make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix orange juice with the confectioner’s sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until you reach a slightly thicker consistency. You want it to be absorbed into the cake a little to keep it deliciously moist.
6. Just before serving, add the orange glaze. Garnish with almonds (or sprinkle confectioner’s sugar for those with a nut allergy).