This is one such cake. I did mix in some leftover rhubarb compote because at this time of year, it becomes a bit of given that you have rhubarb in everything. It didn’t add much however, and may be the reason the cake was sunken a bit in the middle.
I haven’t baked with saffron much, but I’d love to do more now. The saffron milk was deeply coloured, with the intensity and assertiveness of acrylic.
The icing was supposed to be simple and then everything, just everything, went wrong. But playing a bit with temperatures and using a whole lot of muscle finally got it back together into something smooth–which then proceeded to separate after a little sit in the fridge. That part is a bit of a disaster.
Luckily, it was a lovely cake, and would be just as nice un-iced. I baked some small ones, sprinkled with slivered almonds and dusted with icing sugar, which made for a lovely little bite. The cake’s texture revealed the presence of the nuts, it was rich and buttery but not dense, and the crisp crust was lovely, browned very well and revealed a golden interior when cut.
saffron, cardamom and almond cake with orange pekoe mascarpone
It got to be a bit of a mouthful.
saffron, cardamom and almond cake
Adapted from this almond and chocolate bundt, an almond-y riff off the classic sponge. Used some rhubarb compote that was made a few days ago–just rhubarb stewed with sugar and a bit of water to get it started. Drain the compote before using.
180 g butter
140 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
40 g kamut
140 g all purpose flour
75 g ground almond
2 1/2 tbsp milk
generous 1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 – 1 c rhubarb compote, drained
Line the bottom of a 7″/18 cm springform with parchment paper. Butter the sides. For little cakes, butter some small tins.
Heat the milk and crumble in the saffron. Set aside and let cool.
Cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (including the almonds). A spoonful of the dry ingredients can be added in between each egg–part of the directions in the original recipe, I liked how it helped to keep the butter mixture together (though room temperature eggs are even more helpful in that sense, to prevent the whole little curds of butter floating in a pool of cold beaten egg scenario). Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and lastly mix in the milk.
Scrape half the batter into the springform pan. Top with the rhubarb compote, then the remaining batter. The little cakes can be topped with slivered almonds and dragées if desired.
Bake the big cake for 50 minutes at 350 F or until an inserted skewer is removed clean. The little cakes take 10 minutes or so.
orange pekoe mascarpone icing
This was something I spent too much time desperately trying to salvage!
1 orange pekoe tea bag
~125 g mascarpone
~30 g heavy cream
~40 g icing sugar
~50 g butter
The icing was a disaster, perhaps due to the tannic acidity of the tea. So sit down and work at it with a wooden spoon for fifteen minutes or however long you need to make it smooth. After resting or being chilled , beware, it might separate again…!
I’ll walk you through what I did. I boiled a few tbsp of water and poured it over the tea bag in a small bowl until it was just covered. I allowed it to steep for a few minutes, then removed and squeezed the tea bag, which made for some very concentrated spoonfuls of tea. I beat a tablespoon of this into the mascarpone, watched everything fall apart, and then creamed in the powdered sugar in an attempt to reconstitute it.
Next, I whipped the cream and mixed it into the mascarpone as though that would somehow bring it together and stiffen it up. When it did not, I added the soft butter and then beat away at the icing with a wooden spoon until eventually it came together light and smooth.
I chilled it, it fell apart again. Work at it again with the spoon (I love wooden spoons) and eventually it will come back together again. Only chill after you’ve spread it on the cake, though the cake it best at room temperature…
I think what could be improved would perhaps be to steep the tea in cream…maybe (unless it curdles the cream as well?! Oh horrors).