You know the author photos you see on the back flap of cookbooks? Imagine if one of them started talking to you.
That’s how I felt last week when I announced on Twitter that I was making Amanda Hesser’s almond cake (one of my all-time favorite desserts, recipe here) and Amanda Hesser herself, who’s a prolific Twitterer, Tweeted back: “I have a new way of doing the almond cake: mix butter, sugar, almond paste, eggs, sour cream & extract in a food processor.”
I responded to her Tweet by asking if you put everything in at once and she immediately Tweeted: “In stages, the same way you would in a mixer, but just in a food processor.”
I was sold on the method, especially since I hadn’t used my food processor in months.
I began, as she suggested, with the butter and sugar, just as you do when making it in an electric mixer:
Then I added the almond paste, a little at a time, and let the whole thing go for 8 minutes, just like you do in the original recipe. Only my food processor got a little overheated; I’m not sure it’s good to let it run for so long.
The benefit here is that the pieces of almond paste, which normally don’t completely break up when you use a mixer, get pulverized by the blade. The ensuing batter is smoother and slightly less fluffy, yielding a cake that, to my taste, anyway, was slightly more dense, yet no less delicious:
I’ve since e-mailed Amanda about this method, and here’s how she came up with it:
“I was on vacation with Tad’s family about a year ago and his sister-in-law wanted to make the cake but there wasn’t a mixer in the house, so we decided to try to adapt it to a food processor. We thought the resulting texture was finer and lighter — more downy than rustic. Sometimes when it’s made in a mixer it’s coarse and there are little chunks of almond paste (particularly if the almond paste isn’t fresh.)”
Indeed: the batter is more homogeneous and the cake is more consistent throughout. So if you’re sick of your electric mixer, or you don’t have an electric mixer, then make your next almond cake in a food processor.