So, my birthday was on Sunday. As per usual, I made my own delicious cake. (Yes, that’s a pink Advent candle in the middle, because we didn’t have any other candles.)
Long ago, I remember being told by several friends and acquaintances that I wasn’t “allowed” to make my own birthday cake.
Friends, don’t let anyone tell you such codswallop. Your birthday is the perfect time to make whatever cake your little heart desires, without a care to who will “like” it more than you will. If you like baking, and you like your own baking, then make your own cake, and don’t bother sharing with anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.
(On the other hand, if you want a break for your birthday, there’s zero shame in having someone else make your cake. Just sayin’.)
So, for the last several years, minus a bangin’ almond funfetti 30th birthday cake made by my baking best friend (as in, my best friend who also bakes up a storm), I’ve made my own cake. And this year, I got to use the blackberries I’d saved from my summer pickings. Woohoo!
I love almonds. I love marzipan. And dang, do I love blackberries, especially as a reminder of summer in the middle of February. So, I created this cake to use all of those tasty things. You can use your favorite blackberry jam for the frosting and filling (why, there’s a recipe for it here. How convenient!). Just do me a favor – don’t go buying “fresh” blackberries from the supermarket right now in the dead of winter. They shouldn’t be there, anyway, and if they are, they’ll be no good. Frozen berries are fine, or just a nice blackberry jam that you particularly like will do, too.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. This cake is soft, super moist, and just all-around full of almond flavor. I used einkorn flour, because I had some in my pantry, and it makes a particularly moist cake that actually has more good stuff in it than whole wheat flour (whoa!). Also, it’s just plain delicious. However, cake flour will work just fine, too.
This is in my top five birthday cakes, for real, and that’s saying something. Go on and make it for someone special, especially if that someone is you.
Almond Cake with Blackberry Marzipan Frosting
Amaretto gives the cake a soft almond flavor, and I prefer it over almond extract, which tends to give baked goods an unpleasantly fruity aftertaste. If you must use almond extract, replace the amaretto with 1 tsp of extract at most.
ingredients for the cake:
- 2 ½ c einkorn or cake flour (einkorn flour will make a tan cake)
- 1 c whole milk
- 6 egg whites, lightly beaten and at room temperature
- 2 tbsp amaretto
- 1 ¾ c white sugar
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 3/4 c butter, softened to room temperature and cut into tablespoon portions
ingredients for the frosting and filling:
- 3/4 c salted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ c (4 oz) marzipan or sweetened almond paste
- 4 tablespoons cool water
- 1 tbsp amaretto
- 3-4 c powdered sugar, sifted
- 3/4 c blackberry jam, divided use
directions for the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease, flour, and line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper – this is a super soft cake that is prone to sticking, so don’t skip the parchment step! Set aside.
- In a small bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and amaretto. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients at medium-low, and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 5-6 minutes total.
- With the mixer running at medium-low, pour all but ½ c of the egg mixture into the butter-flour mixture, then increase the speed to medium and beating until the mixture light, fluffy, and fully incorporated, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed, about 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining egg mixture, mixing until incorporated (it may look a little separated – that’s okay!), about 30 seconds.
- Pour and scrape the batter into prepared cake pans. Tap the pans lightly on the counter a few times to pop any large air bubbles (there will be several small bubbles – this is also okay!). Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick (don’t use a knife here – mine deflated a bit the first time I tested it) comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
- Cool cakes on cooling racks for 20-30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the cake pans to loosen, then carefully turn them out onto the cooling racks, remove the parchment paper, and invert them so that they’re facing up (the same way they were in the cake pans). I do this by using a third cooling rack, placing it on top of the cake I want to flip over, and flipping it onto the extra rack, then repeating with the other cake. This way, I don’t directly handle a delicate, warm cake and risk breaking it.
directions for the frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine marzipan or almond paste with 4 tbsp of water. Using your fingers or a large spoon, mix the water and the marzipan until the marzipan absorbs the water and you have a homogenous, loose paste. The mixture will not be smooth, as it’s made of almond paste, but it should not have any large chunks of marzipan.
- Add softened butter to the bowl, and, with the paddle attachment, beat butter, amaretto, and marzipan together at medium speed until smooth and slightly fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. (Again, marzipan is thick – this will be a less fluffy buttercream frosting.)
- Reduce the speed to medium-low, and add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting is thick, spreadable, and doesn’t taste overwhelmingly of butter. Add ¼ c of blackberry jam, and mix until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
Assembling the cake:
- Place scraps of parchment underneath the first layer of cake on a flat plate, cake platter, or cake board (you will remove these later). Spread about ½-1 c of the frosting (depending on how thick you like the frosting to be in the center. I like a thick layer, personally) on top of the first layer, spreading evenly to about ¼ inch of the edge.
- Spread the remaining ½ c of blackberry jam evenly on top of the frosting layer. Place the second layer on top of the frosting and jam.
- Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting. (For a neater, crumbless look, frost a very thin layer on the cake, refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes, and frost the cake with the remaining frosting.) Carefully remove strips of parchment from the bottom layer. Yay, you now have cake!