I love to have these cakes with coffee or tea, especially for le goûter (also known as quatre heures) - a snack that takes place at around 4pm that traditionally features something sweet.
The recipe is super simple and the results are moist and vibrant in flavour.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 12-40 minutes, depending on the size of the cake/s
For the almond and orange cake
- 50g plain flour
- 200g caster sugar
- 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 250g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 2 tbsp grated orange zest
- some salted butter for greasing the tins
For the salted caramelised almond topping
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see tips)
- 80g unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup brown or cane sugar
- 40ml milk
- 1/2 tsp orange flower essence
- 1/4 tsp salt
- nothing out of the ordinary: mixing bowl, wooden spoon, sieve, cake or muffin tins
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease cake/muffin tins with salted butter.
- Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl, and then mix in the ground almond.
- Add the orange zest and butter (make sure it's at room temperature!) and incorporate. You might want to use a mixer, but I find that a wooden spoon and some elbow grease work fine.
- One by one, mix in the eggs.
- Pour the batter into the molds and place them on the middle shelf of your oven. A large cake might take 40 minutes to bake, whereas small muffins might only take 12 minutes. It's best to stay nearby and gauge for yourself.
For the topping - to make while the cake/muffins are baking
- Place all ingredients except the sliced almonds into a small saucepan. Over heat, mix the ingredients until the butter and sugar have melted and everything is well incorporated.
- Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Mix in the toasted almonds and set aside. The mixture should thicken as it cools.
When the cake is ready, assemble:
- Remove the cakes from the oven but keep the oven on - you'll be needing it again shortly.
- With a spoon, spread the caramelised almond topping over the tops of the cakes, trying not to damage the cakes by pressing down too hard.
- Return to the oven - this time on the top shelf - for 2-4 minutes or until the topping has been bubbling for a minute or so.
- Let the cake/s cool before removing them from their molds.
- The cakes will be ready when their tops are golden and when a toothpick, after being poked into the middle of the cake, emerges without trace of wet batter.
- If your sliced almonds aren't already roasted, put them in the oven (at about 150 degrees celsius) for 10 minutes, and mix them around a couple of times to even out the roasting. Do this while you're preparing the cake batter.
- If the caramelised topping thickens so much that it becomes difficult to use, simply heat it up again just until it becomes more pliable.