My partner is going to a party this evening, it promises to be a fabulous affair. Sadly, I doubt I’ll be well enough to go. One of his friends from Comedy ACT turns 33 today. He thought it would be nice to take him a birthday cake and since I love baking cakes, I wasn’t going to disagree.
Thinking through what I had in the cupboard to make said cake, I thought an almond and vanilla syrup cake would go down a treat. I bought a generous quantity of almond meal from Grampians Grove nut farm while I was in Moyston over Christmas and I have some beautiful Daintree Vanilla beans left over from the wombat biscuits I made for Australia Day.
I realised that the Wins Creek chestnut honey I’ve been saving for a special occasion would pair beautifully with the almond and vanilla flavours, so I decided to use it for the syrup. You can use any honey if you like, but I would recommend using a honey from a nut tree.
Furthermore, I could decorate it with the last of the vanilla pashmak (Persian fairy floss) I’ve been storing in the freezer. You can by pashmak online direct from the Australian company, Pariya. It’s such a treat. I bought it to make the clouds on my Grandpa’s 90th birthday cake, ‘More Adventures to Come’ and having been storing the rest in the freezer ever since. It comes in a beautiful range of flavours, including pistachio, orange blossom water and chocolate. As it turned out, the pashmak makes the cake look very grand, and indeed quite heavenly, so we decided to name it accordingly. It sure beats the hell out of make icing! But if you wanted to make the cake without the pashmak, it would still be delicious, served as is.
Honey vanilla syrup
|1||vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped|
Almond vanilla cake
|1||cup||gluten free flour|
|1 ½||cups||raw caster sugar|
|1||teaspoon||butter, olive oil spread or margarine|
*Almond butter is available from health food stores, and the health aisle of good supermarkets. However, if you wish you could replace this with tahini or smooth peanut butter.
Combine all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, till the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let the syrup sit to infuse and cool. When it’s cool, remove the vanilla bean, being sure to keep any seeds in the syrup, and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 170oC.
Separate the eggs placing the whites in the large bowl of an electronic mixer and the yolks in the small bowl.
Using a clean bowl and beaters, whip the egg whites and salt till soft peaks form. With the beaters still going, gradually add one cup of the sugar, beating till firm peaks form.
In the small bowl, beat the egg yolks and vanilla paste till they are quite thick. This will take about 5 minutes. Fold through the almond butter.
Combine the almond meal and flour, mixing to break up any lumps.
Gently combine the egg yolk and white mixtures, then fold through the almond and flour.
Grease the cake tin with the butter or olive oil spread. Line the bottom of the tin with baking paper. Tip the flaked almonds into the tin and gently press them against the sides of the tin, making sure they stick all the way up the sides.
Tip the cake mixture into the tin and bake at 170oC for about 50 minutes, or till a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.
While the cake is hot, pour the cold syrup over the top, trying to distribute it evenly. Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin.
When the cake is cold, remove it from the tin and place on a serving plate. Just before serving, gently pull the fairy floss from the bag and arrange in a circle on top of the cake (doing this in advance will mean the fair floss absorbs moisture from the cake and it will start to look quite dank).