Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I love a good butter cake. There's nothing quite like having a rich, velvety slice of golden sunshine with an aromatic cuppa Earl Grey. Once in a while, that is. If only butter cakes weren't so waistline-unfriendly, I'd have a slice everyday.
My fall-back recipe for butter cake has always been this one (I have made an orange version with it too). It has a very high liquid content, and uses the easy "creaming method" which yields a delightfully tender cake that is not too heavy on the tum ... even after the third slice.
I have also tried the "combination method", ie, whip the whites separately before folding them into the yolk/butter batter. This method gives you a taller, fluffier butter cake which is more sponge-like. If I have the time, I always prefer the "combination method" for the finer texture it gives. Yes, I am such a stickler for height and texture! Maybe I will do a separate post on this another day.
BUT, on crazy weekdays, when even washing an extra bowl is a nuisance, the "creaming method" wins hand down. Walkover. No fight.
This time, I decided to tweak the recipe by just a little. As I had about 50g of ground almond (almond meal) left over from making macarons, I decided to add that into the cake. And it was bree-lee-iant! The cake was moist and buttery, with subtle hints of nuttiness ... not unlike a sugee cake. It was WOW WEE at every bite! ;)
The important thing is not to add too much almonds, so that the flavour of butter still takes centrestage. I thought 50g ground almond was just about right. What a lucky fluke! Of course you can use other types of grounded nuts, although the flavour of the cake will certainly differ. I would personally stick to almonds.
If you need to whip up a simple teatime cake under short notice, give this a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much flavour and depth this deceptively plain-looking cake can deliver.
- 145g all-purpose flour
- 50g ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 170g butter, softened
- 170g sugar
- 1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk (I used 2 small whole eggs and it was fine)
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 12 tbsp whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 190ºC. Butter and line a 9-inch cake pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
3. Using a mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy for about about 2 minutes.
4. Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla until well-combined.
5. On low speed, add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with milk.*
* Split the flour into 1/2, 1/4 and 1/4 portions (approximately). The first time you add in the flour, use the 1/2 portion. The reason for this is because the first addition of flour will be fully coated with the fat and does not form gluten (gluten is what makes a cake tough), so it is a good idea to add more flour at the first stage. I found Joy of Baking to be an excellent resource for butter cakes.
6. Switch mixer to medium and beat for 10 to 15 seconds, just until batter appears uniform.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula or knife.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until it reaches a dark-gold color and an inserted cake tester comes out clean.
9. Let to rest in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a cake stand or platter. Sift with icing sugar if desired.