Our good friend, Catherine, who vacations in Maine each summer, always stops by our house (in Massachusetts) to spend the night on her trip home to Philadelphia. A very generous and thoughtful guest, she arrives for each visit with a box of Maine lobsters for our dinner. That makes menu planning a breeze for me. I need only to choose a couple of accompaniments and a dessert to complete our meal.
This year for sides, I assembled a salad of wax beans and cherry tomatoes topped with a sprinkling of basil and then grilled some summer vegetables.
Knowing that our guest, who was born in Paris, loves sweets, I baked an almond cake (redolent of many French gateaux I have sampled) to offer with fresh peaches and raspberries.
As an indulgent garnish, I mounded each slice with some sweetened whipped cream. When our guest of honor proclaimed, "C'est delicieux!" I knew the cake was a winner.
Served with cups of espresso, this dessert made a beautiful yet easy finale for our yearly get together. I baked the single layer cake, which calls for generous amounts of butter and toasted ground almonds, a day ahead and felt it improved in flavor.
Although the peaches and raspberries in my markets right now are delectable, other fruits could be substituted. Sliced plums or nectarines or even fresh halved figs would be excellent paired with this butter-rich nut cake.
Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.
ALMOND CAKE WITH PEACHES, RASPBERRIES AND CREAM
Butter and flour for greasing pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and ground (see Note)
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
PEACHES, RASPBERRIES AND CREAM GARNISH:
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sour cream
3 cups sliced peaches (about 6 medium peaches)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
6 mint sprigs
Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan. Line with parchment paper and butter and flour the parchment.
For cake, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter and sugar together until sugar is dissolved and mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, one at time. Then beat in the almond extract. Reduce speed to low and beat in half of the flour mixture and when incorporated, beat in the sour cream. Then beat in the remaining flour mixture. Beat in the almonds.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula. Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center of cake, about 35 minutes. Remove and cool 15 minutes. Then remove sides of pan and cool cake to room temperature. Invert cake onto a serving plate and remove the parchment paper. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and leave at room temperature.)
To make the garnish, whip cream with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low and add confectioners' sugar and almond extract. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form. With a wire whisk, fold in the sour cream. This will deflate the stiffly whipped cream slightly, giving it a yogurt-like consistency.
Slice cake into 6 portions and place on dessert plates. Top each serving with some peaches and raspberries, then dust with confectioners' sugar. Garnish each slice with a mint sprig and a generous dollop of the cream.
Note: To toast sliced almonds, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place on center shelf of a preheated 350 degrees F oven. Bake until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully so that nuts do not burn. Remove, cool, then grind to a coarse powder in a food processor.
Per serving: 625 calories, 9 grams protein, 41 grams fat, 22 grams saturated fat, 60 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 192 milligrams cholesterol, 187 milligrams sodium. Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.