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Recipe: Almond Spice Cake with Caramel Apple Compote

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Recipe: Almond Spice Cake with Caramel Apple Compote
Dave Scantland
The combination of browned butter, cinnamon and cardamom gives this cake an irresistible flavor. While it's delicious topped with caramel apple compote, you can also frost it with vanilla or cream cheese frosting. The amount of batter is enough for a 6-inch cake pan; if you don't have one you can use two mini-loaf pans instead, or double the ingredients and use an 8-inch square pan.

Yield: 4 slices

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Caramel apple compote

  • 1 large apple*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple brandy or Calvados (or use regular brandy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch cardamom
  • Pinch salt

Preparation:

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Continue cooking until foaming subsides and milk solids in the butter start to brown. This usually takes about 10 minutes but can take longer if the butter has a high water content. When milk solids are browned, pour the butter into a heat proof bowl. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until butter solidifies. (It should be firm but not hard.)

2. Meanwhile, pour nuts in a single layer on a small sheet pan. Toast in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until deep golden brown and fragrant. Let cool.

3. Pour the nuts and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the bowl of a mini food processor. Process until nuts are finely ground (the sugar keeps the nuts from turning into nut butter).

4. Pour the nut mixture into a medium bowl. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices and stir into the nuts. Set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 6-inch square baking pan.

6. When the butter is firm, beat it with the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Add about 1/3 of the flour-nut mixture and mix until incorporated. Add half the milk and mix again. Repeat with 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading out as evenly as possible. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until cake is set in the middle and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool.

For the apple compote:

1. Peel and core the apple. Cut into thin slices, and then cut each slice into small pieces (about 1/2 inches square).

2. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples, and stir to coat with the butter. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft but not falling apart. Let cool slightly before serving.

*For the apple, Galas are great if you like a sweeter apple; Gravensteins are a good choice if you prefer something more tart. Read about more apple varieties here. You can also substitute pears.

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