Heading down the home stretch of the baby shower tea party food – a tea party needs tea cakes! This one comes from Tartine via No Special Effects and was written for a loaf pan. I decided that I was going to do mini-cakes, but as you can see from the picture, it took a little trial and error before I figured out the cook time for the mini-tea cake version. (not that I really “figured” anything out. You’ll see below) But even the extra-cooked version was delicious. These little cakes are soaked in a lemon syrup that practically turns them into candy. But at the same time, they aren’t too sweet. With the tang of the lemon, they are weirdly refreshing straight from the fridge. Also, according to my mom who was saddled with the leftovers from the party (hard life that), they hold up quite nicely to freezing and thawing.
And because changing the size wasn’t enough fiddling, they are also supposed to be mixed citrus (lemon+orange), but I’m a lemon head so I subbed in all lemon. The original version is probably a bit more complex, but I guess I’m a simple creature because I loved them as straight up lemon cakes.
When I make these again I’ll skip the fancy mini-bunt pan though. This recipe doesn’t have a dense enough crumb to really show off the detailed shapes of a novelty pan so it’s better off in simple shapes. I definitely recommend making them bite-sized rather than using a full-sized loaf so you have the excuse to keep popping them in your mouth on your way past the fridge, so mini-muffin tins are the way to go.
- 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 7 oz (or 3/4 cup) almond paste*, at room temp and broken into little bits
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 2 tsp lemon zest
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
-Spray the wells of your mini-muffin tin well. Assuming you don’t have 3 mini-muffin tins, this will be made in batches. I didn’t have any issues letting the batter rest between batches so I don’t think it’s a problem.
-Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. If you want to be technically correct they should be sifted, but as long as I don’t see any lumps I just whisk a bit and call it a day.
-In another bowl whisk together the eggs and vanilla.
-In your stand mixer (or a big bowl with a hand-held mixer or a LOT of arm power) beat the crap out of the almond paste until it is in little pieces. Add the sugar gradually, mixing all the while. You want to really break the almond paste down. Somebody operating with say, a fork and a plastic cup might not want to attempt this one. (Hi meg!)
-Add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time with the mixer running on low.
-Scrape down the mixer and then beat on medium speed till fluffy. (several minutes)
-Add the eggs slowly, with the mixer running. Scrape down the sides and then beat in the zests.
-Add the dry ingredients and fold till just combined.
-Pour into the muffins tins and smack the tins on the counter to settle the batter. (there’s no rise to speak of, so go ahead and fill them fairly high)
-Bake for…and this is the part where I’m an utter failure of a food blogger. I’m not sure how long to tell you to bake them for. My three batches, despite two of them being in the oven simultaneously, and all three of them cooking for about the same amount of time, came out completely different colors. My oven sucks at holding a temp or being even from top to bottom/side to side. I’d start with 15 minutes and keep peeking at them. They’re done when they are set in the middle and are just starting to color.
-Cool on a wire rack while you make the glaze, but make sure they don’t get too cool. You want them to be warm for their lemon bath.
- 6 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
-Stir together in a small bowl.
-Brush onto the little cakelets, on a wire rack over a cookie sheet (to catch the drips) making sure to get the sides along with the top. They’ll look totally soaked, but that’s fine. All the glaze should be used up once you are done.
-Once they are completely cooled put them in the fridge in an airtight container. I agree with Mark over at No Special Effects that they are best chilled.
You can always buy this, but I tend to have almonds in my pantry all the time so I just make it. This makes more than you need for the recipe, but it’ll keep for at least a month in the fridge in an airtight container. Feel free to scale it down, but I figured fractions of eggs are more trouble than they’re worth. The recipes I’ve seen also call for almond extract, but I don’t have any so I don’t use it. Add a tsp if you’ve got it, otherwise just be happy with a more subtle almond flavor.
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds**
- 1 1/2 cups powdered’ sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 tsp salt
-Whiz almonds in the food processor till finely ground. We aren’t making almond butter, but you don’t want any chunks.
-Add the rest of the ingredients, process till well mixed and smooth.
Apparently this is a Russian nesting doll of a blog post. If you have un-blanched almonds, blanching is easy and actually kinda fun.
-Pour boiling water over almonds, let sit for 1 minute.
-Drain almonds and rinse well with cold water
-Remove skins (they’ll pop right out. See how many almonds you can “accidentally” shoot across the room)