Raspberry Almond Cake
Mmmmm, raspberry! Aaaaah, texture!
Across the frigging board I am so happy with this cake. This is the first time I can remember where I finished a cake and was completely satisfied with both the flavors of the cake and the decoration. Seriously, this never happens for cake people, we are way too hard to please!!
Maybe it's because I painted my topper using Edible Art Paints, which I rave about pretty much constantly because of how easy they are to use! I'm starting to get more used to how they behave on gum paste, so the watercolor-mimicking possibilities are beginning to open up to me.
Maybe it's because my passion for botanical illustration is finally coming to some use! I'll never get as detailed on gum paste as I do on paper, but the basic principles of how light hits a subject, how color mixing works, etc. etc. hold here.
Or maybe it's because I followed my heart and went for a very bold textured organic peek-a-boo semi-naked buttercream finish? Uuugh I just love the little bits of pink raspberry buttercream showing through, and the gritty texture of that cake...!
Maybe it's because I am finally able to consistently get those crisp af edges I've been lusting after for years. I still have a little ways to go, but I'm feeling good about where I'm at right now.
But maybe I love this cake so much because it tasted so insanely good! Like, I will have a hard time ever baking up a different kind of cake base because deep down I'll know I could be making this almond cake instead good. VERY pleased with it. I followed Erin Gardener's almond variation listed under her recipe for Any Butter Cake in her outstanding book Erin Bakes Cake, with the slight variation of using 1 teaspoon almond extract alongside the vanilla, and adding 30g (1/4 cup) whole milk powder to the dry ingredients. Erin started out as a pastry chef, and it shows in her uncommonly flavorful, well-edited, and very obviously well-tested recipes.
As such it should go without saying that this is the best almond cake I've ever made, not least because of the unusual form the almond takes in the recipe... go get this book!!!
I will be including the recipe for the raspberry jammy-type-thing I used for the buttercream here (as well as the amount of mascarpone I added to the buttercream), because it surprised me with how flavorful it was. Add it to any buttercream! I used it in a slightly tweaked Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe (more sugar, lol), but seriously, SMBC, AMBC... you can do anything with this jammy jam. A few posts ago I said I would never flavor a fruit buttercream with anything other than freeze dried fruit again, but I spoke waaaay too soon!!
Raspberry is one of those flavors that's a dessert menu favorite, normally paired with dark chocolate, its dark berry notes enhancing the fruit's complexity. I am a big fan of the combination of raspberry with almond, however, because they are such different flavors: the raspberry in this cake was tart and bright, and the almond cake warm, buttery, salty, and nutty. Use this buttercream however you like, but again, I strongly recommend pairing it with Erin's almond cake.
Raspberry Mascarpone Buttercream
For the Raspberry "Jam" (yields enough to flavor 700g [4 cups] of buttercream):
2 Tbsp lime juice (lemon will work just as well)
50g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor, then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the puree boils. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes to thicken it up a bit, continuing to stir. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely, but make sure it's no colder than room temperature when you're getting ready to incorporate it into your buttercream.
For the Buttercream:
Note: This recipe yields about 5 cups of buttercream, which was enough to fill (but not frost) my extra-tall 6" cake. Please note that I use like twice as much buttercream as normal people because of my teeny tiny layers though. Use your discretion here.
700g (4 cups) Italian Meringue Buttercream (or any other buttercream you prefer) at room temp
200g (3/4 cup) mascarpone at room temp
1 quantity "Jam" from the recipe listed above (about 200g)
Make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature. With the mixer on low, beat the buttercream with your paddle attachment until smooth and bubble-free (can take 2-3 mins). Add the mascarpone and beat another 1-2 minutes until combined. Incorporate your jam in the same way. Easy!