Almond Sheet Cake


The term sheet cake reminds me of grocery stores. It conjures up bakeries with fluorescent lighting and dry yellow cake with tooth-achingly sweet buttercream balloons piped on top. It shouldn’t, though: A sheet pan is an excellent shape for baking a cake. It’s perfect (and easy to slice) for a crowd, still looks festive in its scale, and is far less complicated to assemble than a layer cake.

img_9680This particular cake recipe is one of the best things I’ve baked lately. As a fervent lover of all things almond, I was thrilled to uncover a cake that tasted nutty but not overpoweringly so. The cake is airy and light, falling somewhere in between the texture of a chiffon cake and a classic yellow layer cake.

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Almond extract and almond meal give it that nuttiness; the almond meal also helps to keep the cake a moist so it doesn’t dry out (although I recommend eating it the day you bake it).Baking the cake in a 9- x 13-inch pan gives it that festive, jumbo party cake feeling, but you could easily use standard round cake pans if you prefer. And while choices for frosting are, of course, endless, I strongly recommend you give this curious one a try.

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Instead of a classic buttercream method, this frosting using a cooked flour technique. You’ll whisk together flour and milk until it thickens, then let it cool until it’s just warm. In the meantime, you’ll beat together softened butter, almond extract, and granulated sugar until very light and fluffy. It looks ready, but you’ll continue to beat it as you add the warm flour mixture a spoonful at a time. With each spoonful, the frosting whips into an airier, silkier cloud.

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The result is a buttercream that less sweet, dense, and rich than most, with a whipped, almost mousse-like texture that pairs perfectly with such a delicate cake.

Try it, and prepare to be impressed by how easy it is to bake something so elegant and sophisticated. Top it with fresh berries, poached pears, or toasted coconut for an excellent go-to party dessert.

For the cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup almond flour or meal

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ cake pan.
  3. Whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well-incorporated.
  6. Add the almond extract and mix well.
  7. Add the flour mixture and the milk in three additions, alternating between each.
  8. Mix until the batter comes together.
  9. Mix in the almond flour.
  10. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth with a spatula to level the top.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  12. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before frosting.

For the frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation

  1. Add the milk, flour, and salt to a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to boil (about 5 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes until the mixture is warm but not hot. (If the mixture is too warm, it’ll melt the butter in the next step.)
  4. With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and almond extract until very light and fluffy.
  5. Add the warm milk mixture, one spoonful at a time, until the frosting gets pillowy and smooth.
  6. Frost the cooled cake and serve!
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