Sunday, October 25, 2009

Almond Shamah Chiffon

If a recipe typically calls for the use of my two Kitchen Aid mixer bowls, a food processor, and more, I usually avoid it like the plague unless it is chocolate and Rose's Triple Chocolate Cake (those of you who have had it know what I mean.)  However, I decided to give the Almond Shamah Chiffon a go since most of the recipes inspired by David Shamah over the years have been worth the effort (take, for instance his Jumbles in Rose's Christmas Cookies). 

This recipe is not overly difficult, but it requires a fair amount of preparation.  Take the almonds, for instance.  I was sampling some of the blanched almonds from my freezer only to realize they paled in comparison to the fresh whole almonds I was previously snacking on.  There was no way I would bake a cake with such vile ingredients, so I had the "added fortune" of blanching and slicing my own almonds.  I discovered, by laziness, that placing the whole (shelled) almonds in a cup with some boiled water from the kettle, and then into the microwave for 2 minutes does a fantastic job.  The skins slid off and in a reasonably short time, I had FRESH blanched almonds.  After a few chop chop chops, they went into the toaster oven. 

I don't know if my almonds were finely ground enough or not, but when Rose warns about becoming pasty, I figured it's better to err on the side of caution. 

I love whipping egg yolks, the color is just amazing and they develop such gorgeous texture -- whites are ok too, but can't compare to yolks. The rest is just about moving quickly--not too many pictures. I always get a wee bit stressed making sponge cakes as I fear the eggs will collapse on me. The words "fold in the flour, almonds, and whites into the yolks quickly but gently" always bring intensity to my kitchen. This was a very, very thick batter, but it had a lovely aroma from the almonds and almond extract. The house smelled great while this baked.

The cakes were looking a bit lumpy while baking but turned out alright in the end.  The thing I love about sponge cakes is that the crusts come off so you can sample them without marring the cake for serving.  And the crusts had great flavour and even decent texture of what I could tell for the cake. 

Making the syrup is easy, but just requires time to cool.

Now here is my dillemma.  I really really dislike dry cakes, but I don't really like heavily syruped cakes.  I always find syruping a bit of a challenge.   As directed, I used all of the syrup and waited a day before assembling.  I knew when opening the plastic wrap that the cake was too wet.  It stuck to the removable pan bottom in wet lumps.  But what to do?  Not sure if it was because my almonds were too coarse or the syrup applied unevenly, but that is what happened.  Anyway, the cake had to be assembled, so it was.

I love whipped cream.  It is the best frosting...simple and easy and it goes with almost anything.  I also love the simplicty of the recipe for the raspberry whipped cream.  Jam and cream.  But I must add a caveat that a good good raspberry jam is essential.  I bought what was seedless and available S?U*K#R@, and it has a funny taste.  Not gone bad taste, but just off, not a pure raspberry flavour.  I have made Rose's Cloud Creams, and they are wonderful.  This was ok, but definitely in need of a high quality jam.

I really wanted to like this cake, but I personally found the cake to be way too wet -- the flavour was good, but I think it may have been linked to coarser almonds and/or syruping technique.  I wish I had sliced a piece of cake before it was syruped.  The whipped cream would have been wonderful if I had used a better tasting jam.  My husband thought the whipped cream was off too.  My mother, on the other hand, loved it and liked that the cake was not dry like most white cakes, but she too found it a bit too moist.  Didn't have a huge taste panel for this but, given the effort, I don't know that I would be baking it again soon. 


  1. Great tip on how to blanch almonds! I never knew how but now i know! :) Thanks! I didn't brush all the syrup on the cake either. But i think once you put the cake in the fridge for a while, the cake will be less moist. That's because i didn't brush all the syrup on the cake, after the next day, the cake actually became dry. So i figured, your cake might taste better the next day after refrigeration. :)

  2. Sherrie, I love the way you applied the whipped cream on the cake. Thanks for the tip on blanching almonds.


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