I’m sick of covid.
I’m sick of the heat.
I’m sick of masks.
I’m sick of politics.
I’m sick of screens.
I’m sick of feeling trapped.
At least I’m not actually sick. Silver linings, y’all.
So anyway. Here’s a cake.
I’ve made this twice now. What with all the layering of flavors — sour cream and butter; almond extract and almond flour and almond paste; Amaretto and orange brandy; vanilla and dried apricots — I feel like I’m building something. It’s fun.
The cake itself is huge, rich, dense, and exotic. It might look boring — dry, practically — but it’s actually tender and so silky-soft that it’s almost creamy.
It’s a dream to eat. The whole family goes nuts for it.
A couple pointers. The ingredients must be at room temp; this makes the mixing so much easier. Also, mix things well. Beating the hell out of the butter does transformative things.
And lord knows, I need all the transformative things I can get right now.
Almond Apricot Pound Cake with Amaretto
Adapted from Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray.
No almond flour? Grind 1½ cups toasted almonds until you do! (I buy mine at Costco.)
No cake flour? Make some!
At room temp, my almond paste is soft. If yours is still hard, you can grate it, or whirl it with the almonds and add it at the end.
1½ cups almond flour
3 cups, plus 3 tablespoons, sugar
1 cup butter, room temp
4 ounces almond paste, room temp
6 eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons almond extract
1½ teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup Amaretto
¼ cp apricot or orange brandy
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour, sifted
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
⅔ cup chopped dried apricots
Stir the almond flour and 3 tablespoons of sugar together. If your almond flour has lots of hard lumps from being in the freezer like mine did (or you’re starting with whole almonds), whirl it together in the food processor.
Cream the butter and the 3 cups of sugar together for 4 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the marzipan and cream well (don’t worry if some of the little pieces don’t break up). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each and scraping down the bowl. Add the almond and vanilla extracts, Amaretto and brandy.
Combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, salt, and soda. Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternately with the sour cream and ending with the dry ingredients. Do not overbeat. Fold in the ground almonds and chopped apricots.
Pour the batter into a buttered and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half, and maybe even 15 minutes more. Cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.
This same time, years previous: breaking horses, the quotidian (8.13.18), the quotidian (8.14.17), on getting lucky, knowing my questions, a piece of heaven, getting my halo on, there’s that, totally worth it.