So here’s the thing: I don’t have milk.
I don’t really ever have milk.
This recipe might get, what’s the word, iffy. But I have a plan! It may be a bad plan, but a plan it is.
But, dear friend, I’m going to create suspense by not telling you now what the plan is.
Oh yeah. You’re going to have to wait, like, three paragraphs at least!
As soon as I find the right Christmas playlist.
Considering the fact that last time I cheated and used the dough hook, I decided that this time I would be legit. Too legit. Too legit to quit! I would take the old-fashioned route for things. Instead of using the food processor or coffee grinder to chop my almonds, I’d chop them with a knife and a cutting board.
Instead of using an electric mixer, I’d opt for the alternative mixing option and use a wooden spoon. If Paul and Mary say it can be done, then I’ll believe them.
After all, they wouldn’t set unrealistic expectations for me, right?
Step one seems pretty basic. Turn on the oven, check. “Brush the inside of a lined tin with a thick coating of melted butter, then sprinkle with chopped almonds so they stick to the sides and base,” sure.
Here’s the thing, chopping almonds with a knife and cutting board is difficult.
It’s a very uneven process and how small am I supposed to know to chop it? Should they be powder? Should they be chunks? Should they be small chunks with powder? Because that’s what I ended up with.
It kind of works, right?
Also do you like my new loaf tin? I purchased my own from Ikea, which is handy to christen it with a Swedish cake recipe. I was a little worried because it’s a slightly different size than I was expecting, but I’ll keep a close eye on the baking time.
Now, onto step two. How hard can it be, right?
*reads step two*
Step two is very hard.
Sift and set aside. Make your crème fraîche mixture and set aside. Beat together butter and cardamom seeds and set aside. How many bowls do you expect me to have, Mar-Bear and Paulo??
The sad thing is I have a lot of bowls. I have kind of a problem where I buy cute bowl sets or bowl sets on sale at Costco and then end up with too many bowl sets. But still! How were they to know that?
So I’ll just have to break this one MASSIVE step into a dozen mini steps.
Sifting? No problem. I got this. Thanks to my Ikea sifter. (Seriously, though, what would we do without Ikea?)
Mix together crème fraîche and milk. Right. The milk thing. So as mentioned I rarely have milk in my house, and I rarely have sour cream (the closest thing a lazy Canadian can get to crème fraîche) that hasn’t expired. Because why would you? But I knew I wanted to make this so I made sure to buy enough sour cream to last both my tarte flambée and this one. But the milk! What would I do?
I know. The suspense is killing you. I’ll put you out of your misery. I had the 125 ml of sour cream that was required, plus an extra two tablespoons. I needed four tablespoons of milk. Solution? Use all the remaining sour cream and add two tablespoons of water.
Probably not. It’s a fairly basic solution. It may ruin the cake, but that’s okay. It can’t be as bad as the chocolate cake decoration.
This is also where I decided to go old school. I am woman, hear me roar!
“How hard could this be?” seems to be the theme of this bake. And the answer is pretty darn difficult. Butter is not an easy thing to deal with when you decide to forgo the electric mixer. I may wake up tomorrow morning with sore arms.
Quick side note about the cardamom. I picked up ground cardamom at my new favourite store recently, but this recipe calls for cardamom pods. I tried googling an equivalent measurement to 10 pods and one site said one tablespoon and another site said one teaspoon and those are two very different amounts for a very strong spice.
I googled it again and a site said one and a half teaspoons, so I decided to go with that. Not sure why. It felt right.
Back to the arm workout that I decided to put myself through. I had to keep switching countertops (I have a choice of two different countertops) thinking that one would be easier than the other. I also overestimated the size of mixing bowl I’d need for this part of it.
Another part of this ridiculously long step two (just break it into multiple steps, Mary and Paul!) is to gradually add sugar. There were times I seriously considered caving and using the electric mixer, especially when, after all the sugar is added, you have to continue beating until “very light and fluffy.”
This will have to do.
Now, time to bring all these mixing bowls together. (Mary and Paul, do you know how small my kitchen is? There’s not enough room! I had to put a mixing bowl on the toaster!)
Eggs in one bowl, crème fraîche in another, flour in another, butter in another. Too many! Slowly add this, then add this, then add this too, then this, oh and don’t forget more chopped almonds.
Note to self, just chop enough almonds at the beginning of the recipe. Don’t chop throughout. It takes up a lot of time. Also, don’t be ambitious; just use the electric mixer.
Good news, though! Folding is required in this recipe. Bad news is I did it for a couple seconds with the wooden spoon and not a plastic spatula—gasp! I know, I know. It’s okay, though. I corrected myself.
Oh and I may have messed up this recipe in another way. I didn’t understand a tip so I just ignored it:
It’s a good idea to add a tablespoon of the sifted flour with the last two portions of egg so the mixture doesn’t curdle.
Does that mean you have to mix it with the egg first? Do you add it when you add the egg? How do you know if you curdled it? Did I curdle it? I hope not. Although there’s a chance I did.
No streaks! Time to spoon the mixture into the prepared tin:
I hope the strip of baking paper is long enough. There’s a good chance I won’t be able to pull this cake out of this tin. There’s lots of butter in there, but still. Fingers crossed I didn’t mess this up a third way!
Time to chop more almonds.
This time, unlike the streusel-topping mistake of yore, I’m going to push the almonds into the batter.
Now, time to let this thing bake for a surprisingly long time.
I just read the top section of the recipe, above the actual instructions, and Mary and Paul tell you how many almonds you’ll need.
Hey future self, maybe just chop that amount at the start next time. Guessing didn’t make your life easier.
I peeked! It seems to be rising.
I may not have ruined it. Although I may definitely have issues lifting it out with the baking paper. Oops.
Just a completely unrelated side note, I recommend you include boy band Christmas songs in your next baking session. It just makes it better.
I wish there was a way to convey scent via blog, because it smells good in here. Step 7 says I have to wrap it in foil and leave it overnight before cutting into it. That might be a good thing anyway lest I’m tempted to eat the entire thing. Plus, as a classic coffee cake, this needs to be enjoyed “with a pot of really good coffee.” Sadly, it will have to be enjoyed with mediocre office coffee.
Sorry, Mary and Paul.
Not to toot my own horn, but this cake looks and smells delicious. Also the way it breaks at the top makes it easy to poke a knife into the centre without there being an obvious mark.
For real, though, would you consider this knife clean?
I wouldn’t. There’s some faint something in it. And it’s been undercooked by like 7 minutes, according to the recipe. A minute more and then I’ll check again.
Okay I’m calling it. I’d rather have a slightly moist cake than a dry cake. Unless underbaked is worse than overbaked!
*A day passes*
Good news! It was perfectly baked:
And one co-worker told me it was the best bake yet. It is pretty delicious (even with a cup of crappy coffee).