the appetizer:

Bakewise by food scientist Shirley O. Corriher, explains the intricacies of baking, with recipes like Financiers; Straight Dough with Autolysis Baguettes; and Straight Dough with Autolysis Fougasse.

I Love Desserts



Makes about 12 small cakes



This very rich cake was created by a baker in the financial district of Paris and named for his wealthy customers. Pastry Chef Sherry Yard loves this cake. It's a dream cake—just imagine almonds, browned butter, and sugar. It's so good!

And, wonder of wonder, it's easy, and the batter keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, ready for you to whip together a great dessert! Chef Sherry uses it to create individual desserts in a hurry. A round of the rich cake is the perfect base for all kinds of creative desserts.

I couldn't resist using a tip from Chef Kate Zuckerman of Chanterelle in New York City for making vanilla browned butter. You add a split vanilla bean to the butter when you are browning it. Flavor, flavor, flavor! I love the traditional financiers—little cakes topped with browned sliced almonds.

What This Recipe Shows

A vanilla bean and some scrapings from it are added for superflavorful browned butter.

Part of the almond flour is lightly browned for additional flavor.

  • 1 cup (8 oz/227 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 plump vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • Nonstick cooking spray with flour
  • 1-1/4 cups (3.8 oz/108 g) almond flour
         (available at Whole Foods, Middle Eastern markets, or from King Arthur Flour)
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz/85 g) spooned and leveled cake flour
  • 2-1/2 cups (10 oz/283 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
  • 8 large egg whites (8 oz/227 g), room temperature
  • 1 cup (3.2 oz/92 g) sliced unblanched almonds
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz/43 g) butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) melted and strained orange marmalade, for glaze

1. Place 1 cup (8 oz/227 g) butter in a heavy saucepan. With the tip of a small knife, scrape some of the inside of the vanilla bean into the butter and add the bean to the butter. Heat over medium-low heat until the dairy solids settle to the bottom and begin to brown to a deep gold, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, take out the vanilla bean, and allow to cool to room temperature. The butter needs to be melted, but not hot.

2. Arrange a shelf in the lower third of the oven with a baking stone on it and preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Spray small round or rectangular pans, miniature savarin rings, or small barquette pans with nonstick cooking spray with flour.

3. Spread half of the almond flour in a baking dish and roast until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.

4. With a mixer, beat together on low speed for at least 30 seconds the almond flour, cake flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Add the egg whites all at once and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Dump in all of the melted vanilla butter, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all of the browned bits. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and across the bottom of the mixing bowl at least once.

5. Pour into the prepared pans. In the photograph insert we used fluted individual tins. Place on the hot baking stone and bake until the small cakes are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

6. In a small skillet, toss the almond slices with the melted butter and heat with constant stirring until lightly browned.

7. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans on a rack for about 5 minutes, and then carefully remove from the pans and place on the rack to cool completely. Invert the little cakes one at a time out of the pan and place the cakes on a baking sheet. Brush the cake bottoms (now tops) with strained marmalade for a shiny glaze. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and glaze the top of the almonds too.

8. This batter keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It is actually better made a day ahead. Before using, stir the batter well, scraping the bottom, and beat for 1 minute by hand or with a mixer to warm up and blend together well.

  • from:
    The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking
  • by Shirley O. Corriher
  • Scribner 2008
  • 544 pages; $40.00
  • ISBN: 1416560785
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

Buy Bakewise




This page created February 2009

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