This delicious Almond-Saffron Cake delicately combines the flavors of orange zest, almond paste, and saffron - a costly spice derived from the saffron crocus flower.
1/3 cup milk
1 (.01-ounce) jar saffron threads (a generous 1/2 teaspoon)
Grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) can or 1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste (about 1 cup)**
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for topping, if desired
5 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup, optional)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add saffron and zest. Bring just to a simmer; remove from heat, and set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in salt.
Beat together butter and almond paste at medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment about 3 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until fluffy, scraping down sides. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating at medium speed just until blended after each addition. Add reserved milk mixture; beat just until blended. Do not overmix.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Shake pans gently, or use a spatula to smooth tops. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and serve warm, dusted with more powdered sugar or drizzled with orange juice combined with 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, if desired.
*Stir flour before measuring.
**Do not use marzipan, which contains added sugar.
I was happy to find this recipe since I saw saffron was usually used in savory dishes. And before I get any further, yes, I know it says "do not use marzipan". Unfortunately I did not have almond paste available to use, so I had to use marzipan. I simply used a little less powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup or even a little less) and a lot more patience when mixing the butter and marzipan together, and it still turned out alright. Just be careful, even if you do use almond paste, that you blend the butter and almond paste VERY well before adding anything else! The cakes were very good, and the saffron really gives the taste a certain warm earthiness. The red threads are very pretty throughout the cake. I think guests would find something intriguing about the taste, since the orange and almond flavors are so obvious, but the saffron, not so much. This cake would go really well with some homemade vanilla ice cream on the side! I don't know if I'd ever buy saffron again once I run out, but this is definitely a lovely and different dessert to make for something or someone very special.
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