So… Toscakaka… Funny name, right? It really doesn’t sound too appealing… I got this recipe from another one of my favorite food blogs, Poires au Chocolat. You saw this coming, right? The third pre-post – weird word. Such a paradox – of my little ‘Making Friends’ campaign!
Poires au Chocolat is run by Emma. A self professed geek from Devon who started her blog to capture her joy of being back in the kitchen during her university holidays. That was in 2009. Today, Emma has a degree in English Language and Literature, which kind of makes me feel like I know what she’s been through the past few years.
School wise, at least…
Anyway, in her post about this awesome yet strangely named cake, Emma explains that the eyebrow-raising part of this cake’s name – you know it: the ‘kaka’ – is the Swedish word for cake. Thank god…
The ‘Tosca’ bit is said to refer to a Puccini opera. I don’t think I know Puccini, but – Wait, let me check Wikipedia…
No. I don’t know Puccini. All I know is that he didn’t write ‘Battle Studies’… Or ‘The House’… Or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for that matter…
Anyway, back to the cake!
It’s basically a light vanilla sponge cake topped with a caramel almond layer. In her post, Emma mentions how the caramel glaze on top kind of seeps into the cake underneath. I’m afraid (and a little disappointed) that this didn’t really happen for me. My guess is that I’ve used too many almonds. I did stick to Emma’s recipe, so my guess it that the almonds that I used were maybe slithered a little thinner than the ones Emma used, resulting in more surface area to coat.
See, I know stuff! I’m not an idiot for not being familiar with Puccini!
Anyway, as a result, the topping of my cake was perhaps a little flakier and less of a praline than Emma’s. It was still very good though! Light and fluffy cake with a deliciously addictive, crunchy topping! Like Emma said, it’s very difficult – aka: practically undoable – to not start picking bits of the top and having to make it look like you didn’t.
I mean, just look at that topping. It was like cake, topped with chattyheads…
I shared it with my sister and her kids, who came over today to make a fort out of my couch cushions, draw pictures of fashionable ladies and run around half naked. Well, the kids did. Not my sister…
Anyway, because both my sister and the Rocking Rebel thought the topping was a little salty I adjusted the recipe a little. Don’t leave the salt out, though. Sugar needs salt. First thing any aspiring pastry chef should know… Oh, and do yourself a favor and don’t leave out the secret ingredient which makes the topping just a little more special: instant coffee powder.
Even you coffee hater out there, don’t do it! I’m a enthusiastic coffee hater myself and I loved it!
Emma uses espresso powder in her recipe, but since the Rocking Rebel was at work when I made this and I don’t have the slightest clue about anything coffee-related, I decided to use the instant coffee powder I always use whenever I want to make something mocha flavored.
The glaze was gorgeous, rich and delicious!
Just make sure you keep an eye on it when it’s caramelizing in the oven, as it browns (and burns!) pretty quickly. My cake came out with a few very dark brown patches on top!
- 75g (or ⅓ cup) unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150g (or 1 cup + 3 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 75ml (a scant or 5 tablespoons) buttermilk*
- * substitute with 70ml (or 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
- 150g (or 1 cup + 3 tablespoons) flaked almonds
- 125g (or ½ cup + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
- 125g (or ½ cup + 3 teaspoons, packed) light brown sugar
- 50ml (or 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) milk
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder or instant-coffee powder
- Start by preheating your oven to 160°C or 320°F (standard oven setting). Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment and scatter on the almonds in an even layer. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until light golden brown. I toasted the almonds in two batches to ensure even baking. In the meantime, melt the butter for the cake batter in a small saucepan. Transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool to room temperature. Once the almonds are toasted, leave to cool on a plate and line a 23-cm (9-inch) springform pan with baking parchment.
- Proceed with the cake batter. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light, thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes on high speed. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold half the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Carefully fold in the buttermilk and the remaining flour, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. Finally, drizzle in the melted but cool butter and fold in. Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and tap the pan on the counter once to get rid of big air bubbles. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Once the cake has come out of the oven, start making the topping. Turn the oven up to 200°C (390°F). In a small saucepan, combine the milk, salt and coffee powder. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the salt and the coffee powder, then add the butter and sugar. Stir as the butter melts, then crank up the heat and leave to bubble and cook for a few minutes, until it thickens slightly. Add the almonds and stir to combine. Pour the topping on top of the cake, spreading it into an even layer with a spoon. Place in the oven for another 8-10 minutes, or until the topping has turned a rich dark brown. Place on a wire rack to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the cake and remove the springform collar. Serve at room temperature.