Right now, the farmers markets and roadside stands are brushing off their winter dust and settling in to offer us the best of the summer produce. I love all of the beautiful fruits and veggies that summer has to offer, and one of the best parts of summer, for me, is when berry season is in full effect. We haven’t made our annual trip to the strawberry patch yet, but when we do, I’ll be up to my ears in amazingly sweet, delicious berries. I can’t wait!
This is one of my favorite recipes to make with those beautiful summer berries. This almond cake, laced with berries and cream is like an amped up Strawberry Shortcake. It’s so pretty, fairly simple, absolutely delicious, and always a hit.
I start by baking up a simple cake, rich with almond flavor. The recipe calls for almond paste, which is mostly a mixture of ground almonds and sugar, along with a little bit of oil or corn syrup to bind it. If you’ve never used almond paste before, you can find it in your baking aisle. It comes in a sausage like tube and you just slice off what you need. It kind of has the consistency of hard Play-Doh. (Don’t let that be a turn off. It’s good stuff!)
I crumble the almond paste into my food processor and mix it with some regular sugar. After pulsing the food processor a few times, I’m left with beautifully mixed almond sugar.
This entire cake batter mixes up in my food processor! If you don’t have a food processor, I’d suggest blending the sugar and almond paste in a blender, and then moving that mixture into a mixing bowl before proceeding with a regular mixer for the rest of the recipe.
I add some butter, eggs, flour, baking soda, and salt to the almond mixture, blend all of that up, and then pour it into my prepared tart pan. The tart pan has fluted edges and a removable bottom, so it makes for a pretty presentation. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can always use a regular, 9-inch cake pan.
The cake bakes about 20 minutes, and then just needs to cool. When I’ve made this cake, it’s usually for a special occasion of some sort, so I usually bake up the cake the night before, cool it, and cover it with foil overnight. Just one less step to have to deal with on the big day. It would be easy to put together in one day, though. Just make sure the cake is completely cooled before moving on.
Next, I prepare the cream cheese topping. I quickly beat some cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy and then add in some powdered sugar to sweeten things up. Once that is well combined, I whip in some whipping cream and a bit of almond extract.
It only takes a couple of minutes to whip up this fluffy, light, delicious pastry cream! Once it’s ready, I cover it and leave it in the fridge until I’m ready to put together my cake.
As the cream is chilling, I prep my berries. I used fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries this time. Blackberries are wonderful, too. After slicing the strawberries in half (or quarters, if they are huge), I toss them with a little bit of powdered sugar and let them stand for about 10 minutes, just allowing the flavors to blend.
When it’s time for dessert, I spread some delicious, raspberry jam over the top of the cake. Then, I top the jam with the cream, and then the cream with the berries, and it’s done! It makes for a beautiful, light, summer dessert and it is one of our family favorites. It also looks like it’s a lot more intimidating to bake than it really is! Nobody needs to know that, though, right? It will be our little secret.
FRENCH ALMOND CAKE WITH BERRIES AND CREAM
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
- For the cake:
- 4 ounces almond paste
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter (softened)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- For the Cream Cheese Topping:
- 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ tsp. almond extract
- For the berries:
- ½ pound strawberries (hulled and sliced)
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1 cup blueberries or blackberries
- 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
- ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam (stirred up well, so it's spreadable)
- Prepare the cake: Preheat your oven to 375*. Grease and flour a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom, or a nonstick 9-inch round cake pan. If using a tart pan, either wrap the outside of the pan in foil or place the pan on a foil lined cookie sheet, just in case it leaks while baking.
- Crumble the almond paste into a food processor bowl with the knife blade attached. Add the sugar and pulse, until the mixture is finely ground. Add the softened butter and process until smooth. Add the eggs and process until combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl once or twice. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and process until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake is browned on top and springs back when pressed lightly in the center with your finger. Cool the cake completely in the tart pan on a wire rack. If using a cake pan, cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely. The cake can be baked a day ahead of time.
- Prepare the cream cheese topping: In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until well blended. Add the cream and almond extract, increase mixer speed to high, and beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prepare the berries: In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries/blackberries, and powdered sugar. Toss to coat gently and evenly and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Assemble the cake: Remove the tart pan sides from the cake. With a knife or metal spatula, loosen the cake from the pan bottom and place on a serving dish. Spread the raspberry jam on top of the cake to ½ inch from the edge. Spoon the cream mixture over the jam, spreading to cover all but the edge of the jam. Spoon the berry mixture over the cream. Serve immediately.