Those of you who tune into my ramblings on Twitter might have noticed the little glitch I had with this recipe earlier in the week. I was baking from a Swedish recipe, and relying on Google Translate to, if not translate it fluently, then at least be consistent. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. What started as “2dl” in the original recipe was translated as “2 cups”, but “3dl” was translated as “3dl” (decilitres, i.e. 300ml-by-volume). Needless to say, there’s a world of difference between 200ml and 2 cups (470ml), and so the first version ended up in the bin.
Cue rant by me to long-suffering husband about untested recipes and the failures of Google Translate before I discovered, by comparing the original recipe with others I had found, the cause of the baking disaster. Success soon followed.
I’m really pleased that it did too, because I’ve been wanting to make this cake for some time. It’s a huge family favourite in Scandinavia and Germany, but surprisingly, I’ve not managed to find it in any Italian recipes from Tuscany, which is where it is supposed to have originated. However, Torta di Nonna looks as though it might be a long-lost cousin (& also looks fab & is on the ‘To Do’ list!).
The cake itself is a vanilla sponge, made via a slightly unusual method, but the crowning glory, in more ways than one, is the topping that’s baked onto it – a deliciously crunchy mixture of caramel and flaked almonds that is poured over the cake for the last 10 minutes of baking.
I found other variations out there, using the addition of fresh fruit, so I also whipped up an apple version this week. Personally, I thought the fruit version the best, but my valiant taste testers (husband’s work colleagues) voted the original just squeaked in as the favourite. I’ll post details of the variation below.
It’s a quick bake too – less than an hour from start to finish – so lets get cracking!
150g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
1.5tsp baking powder
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
60ml double cream
120g flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Prepare a 24cm spring-form tin with parchment paper on the base and a double layer of parchment around the insides.
- Melt the butter and set aside.
- Cream the sugar, vanilla and the eggs until light and frothy (5-10 minutes).
- Sift the flour and baking powder together, then gradually add into the mixture whilst stirring.
- Mix in the milk.
- Pour in the liquid butter and mix to combine.
- Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Gently turn the cake after 20 minutes, to ensure even cooking.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the topping
- Put all the ingredients except the almonds into a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the butter and sugar have melted and the mixture has thickened.
- Keep warm over extremely low heat until required.
- After 30 minutes remove the cake from the oven.
- Increase the oven temperature to 225°C, 200°C Fan.
- Stir the almonds through the caramel and pour over the top of the cake.
- Put the cake tin on a baking tray and return it to the oven for 10 minutes. The baking tray will help prevent the bottom of the cake from burning while the topping becomes golden brown. I forgot this little detail with the cake in the photograph and you can see where it’s started to scorch
- Remove the cake from the oven. The topping will be golden and bubbling.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.
 For the fruit variation, use soft light brown sugar in both the cake and the topping. Just before it goes into the oven, scatter 2-3 Braeburn apples or pears (peeled, cored, chopped into 2cm pieces) over the batter. For the topping, use 40g each of flaked almonds, pistachios and un-skinned hazelnuts roughly chopped. NB The cake might need baking for 5-10 extra minutes before adding the topping – depends on your oven. The fruit pieces add moisture to the mix and so bear this in mind. If the top of the cake is wobbling, give it a little longer.