Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way

Recipe: Almond Cake with Berries

"This food processor cake is moist and tender. Before serving, the cake is brushed with whiskey-laced syrup, then covered with jam-flavored fruit, and served with sour cream or creme fraîche. To make a three-layer cake like the one in the photograph, see the variation that follows."

"Almond paste is available in most supermarkets in 8-ounce cans or tubes."

Serves: 6-8

• 4 ounces almond paste (1/3 cup tightly packed)
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon reserved to butter the cake pan
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 large eggs
• 1/4 cup milk
• Dash of salt
• 1 cup cake flour (5-6 ounces)
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 3 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons whiskey, rum, or cognac
• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 1/2 pounds berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries) or other available fruits (currants, diced dried peaches, or diced dried apricots)
• 1/2 cup good apricot jam, diluted with 2/3 cup water
• 8-10 mint leaves
• 1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche for serving

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the almond paste, sugar, butter, and vanilla in a food processor and process for about 10 seconds. Add the eggs, milk, and salt and process for 5 seconds. Add the flour and the baking powder and process for another 5 to 10 seconds, or until smooth.

Butter an 8-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep) with the reserved 1/2 teaspoon butter.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack.

At serving time, place the cake on a serving platter.

For the syrup:
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Using a spoon or pastry brush, moisten the cake with the syrup.

Scatter the berries on top of and around the cake.

Spoon on the diluted apricot jam and garnish with the mint leaves.

Serve with the crème fraîche or sour cream.

Make Ahead
You can make the cake early in the day. Or make several cakes and wrap them well for the freezer. Defrost, still in their wrappings, in the refrigerator.

To make a large cake for a special occasion--birthday, wedding, or the like--triple the recipe and bake in different-size cake pans, perhaps 12 inch, 8 inch, and 5 inch.

Brush the largest layer with one third of the syrup, center the second largest layer on top and brush with one third of the syrup, and top with the smallest cake layer.

Brush with the remaining syrup and scatter the berries over the layers.

Spoon the diluted apricot jam over the berries and cake and garnish with the mint leaves and/or edible flowers.

Serve with crème fraîche or sour cream.

Recipe courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Company, ©2004 Jacques Pépin from Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way.