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Last weekend I went back to Ottawa to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. In the past, I didn’t often go back for my Dad’s birthday due to various reasons such as school or work assignments.  Because my Dad is super understanding he forgave me for those missed birthdays. This year his birthday fell on a weekend so I decided to take an extra day off to celebrate it with him. To make this celebration extra special, I baked him this delicious cake. Hope this makes up for all those missed birthdays Dad! <3

Accidental discoveries happen all the time in biology, physics, mathematics, and even in the culinary world. Take for example the upside-down French dessert tarte tatin. Story goes it was “invented” in a hotel owned by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. Stéphanie was making an apple tart but overcooked the apples, so she tried to rescue it by putting the pastry base on top.

I’d say this cake is considered to be one of those wonderful “food inventions by accident”. However I didn’t invent it. This muffin layer cake was discovered by Maryanne (The Little Epicurean). She baked these muffins in a muffin pan without any liners and she didn’t put enough non-stick spray. So when she took those muffins out of the pan, they didn’t come out in one piece. :S But because they were so delicious, she (channeled her inner Christina Tosi) crumbled those muffin scraps up and turned them into this delicious cake. Thank you Maryanne!

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I guess you’ll probably ask, why not just bake the batter in a cake pan? I suppose you could, but I just love the way the cake layer looks with loosely packed muffin crumbs – it’s so rustic! I love the texture of this cake too, very different from a normal cakey cake. It’s crumbly, dense, and moist. Together with the cream cheese frosting and jam, it was delightful! I knew this cake can’t go wrong when I taste tested the muffins alone – the combination of raspberry, almond and lemon was heavenly. I will definitely be making these muffins in the future for breakfast.

My dad and my family who normally don’t eat sweets as much, loved it! Probably because this cake is not overwhelmingly sweet (a mandatory dessert trait for all Chinese parents).  I only did a few minor things differently. Instead of raspberry jam, I used a triple fruits jam – raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry. Because I had a small lemon, I added zest of a whole lemon instead of half of a lemon. Also I did not have acetate strip, so I assembled my cake in a 9-inch springfoam pan. The acetate strip will make the edge of your cake cleaner so I might get some in the future if I decide to attempt Christina Tosi’s recipes.

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RASPBERRY ALMOND MUFFIN LAYER CAKE

(Recipe Adapted from The Little Epicurean)

INGREDIENTS:

Raspberry Almond Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 large yolk, room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon (or zest of one small lemon)
2 cups raspberries

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, amount depending on desired consistency

Other components:
sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
triple berries jam
additional raspberries (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Raspberry Almond Muffins:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs and yolk. Add in sugar, melted butter, milk, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add lemon zest. Whisk until fully combined.
  3. In three additions, pour wet mixture into large bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold together until combined. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide batter into prepared muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until muffins are golden in color and a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before removing and allow muffins to cool on wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add salt and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add sifted confectioners’ sugar. Mix until smooth and desired consistency is achieved.

Layer Cake Assembly:

  1. Take an 8-inch cake ring and place on a slightly larger cake board. Alternatively, place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cut a 3-inch wide acetate strip to line the inside of the cake ring (I used a 9-inch springform pan to assemble my cake – no acetate strip).
  2. Take the raspberry muffin scraps and divide it into three equal parts. Take one part of the scraps and make the first layer inside the ring. Use the palm of your hands, the bottom of a drinking glass, or a tamper to push the scraps together into a flat and even layer.
  3. Spread about 1/4 cup of raspberry jam in an even layer over the cake. Spread about 1/3 of cream cheese frosting over the raspberry jam layer. Add another layer of cake scraps. Repeat the process for the first layer.
  4. Add the third layer of cake and cover with the remaining 1/3 of cream cheese frosting. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds and raspberries.
  5. Let cake rest in freezer for at least 1 hour. Gently remove cake ring and gently peel off the acetate strip while cake cold. Let cake defrost in fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

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