2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
Make the cake- Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-
sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive, then
stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this
with the paddle attachment (no dough hook needed; batter is thin)
at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides, cover
with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 60 minutes,
till itís a little puffy. (It wonít fully double; this is fine.)
Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Stir the batter a few times to
deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and nudge it
until it fills the bottom. Cover again with plastic wrap (donít let it
drape in and touch the top) and set aside for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the honey-almond-crunch topping- In a small or
medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey,
cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let
it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a shade darker
(it should go from a yellowish tone to a light beige), stirring
frequently. Stir in the almonds. You will probably panic because this
mixture is going to get very thick ó but donít. Set it aside to cool
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Once the cake has finished its second rise (again, itís not going to
rise a lot; donít sweat it) use a small spoon to scoop out small
amounts of the almond topping and distribute it over the top of the
cake. Itís going to be a little pesky because it is firm, but I promise
(see above- multiple photos of this process to ease your worry),
even if itís not perfectly evenly distributed, it will all smooth out
gorgeously in the oven.
Bake cake on a foil-lined tray to catch any caramel drips, for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is
bronzed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. (Caramel on it is fine,
and should be tasted.) Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After
10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake, making sure no places are stuck and
invert the cake onto the cooling rack. If youíre like me, youíll be positive that all of the
almonds will fall off, but shockingly, in five rounds, I only lost one or two. Reverse it back
onto another rack to finish cooling, replacing any almonds that fell off right back on top.
Theyíll merge back with the caramel as it cools; nobody will know.
Make pastry cream- Warm milk and vanilla bean scrapings (if using; if using an extract, donít
add yet) in a medium saucepan. Pour into a small bowl or cup, ideally with a spout. Set aside.
Rinse saucepan with cool water, to rinse and cool; wipe to dry.
Off the heat, whisk the yolks and sugar vigorously together for a minute, until pale and
ribbony. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Drizzle in warm milk mixture, a spoonful at a
time, whisking the whole time. Once youíve add half of it, you can add the rest in a more
steady stream, again whisking the whole time. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on
medium-high heat until it bubble, then simmer for one to two minutes, more whisking the
whole time. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and any extracts you may be using. Cool custard
completely before using, a process that can be sped up in the fridge or whisking it over a
bowl over ice water.
Finally, assemble the cake- Once both the cake and pastry cream are fully cooled, place the
cake on a serving platter and divide it horizontally into two layers with a long serrated knife.
Spread pastry cream over bottom half. Place top half on pastry cream.
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