Friday, 22 June 2012

Moist Summer Cake Laced With Tonka Bean

This cake was a bit of an experiment.

I didn't think I was taking much of a risk using Matcha (Japanese green tea) which as well as making the cake smell of soothing green tea, should have given this cake a green tint too. What happened instead was: the Tonka bean! (See picture below to get an idea of what this looks like). It took just a few shavings of this bean to overpower the overall taste of this cake. Initially I had wanted to use it as an interesting substitute for vanilla. However, the Tonka bean smells and tastes nothing like vanilla to my palate; it tastes rather like almonds but to other palates (those of my friendly testers) cinnamon, cloves and even notes of orange blossom were detected. This is definitely a spice to use on its own as there is more than enough flavour to be had in one bean.

In case you're wondering, that is my hand! Care to read my life line?

The addition of ground hazelnuts to the cake batter also makes the texture of this cake feel deceptively like an almond cake with the added bonus of making it moist and light. All it needed was some icing sugar for decoration and rose petals to inaugurate its accidental beginning.

The Recipe

100g unsalted butter
80g sugar
2 eggs
120g flour
2 tsps of baking powder
60g ground hazelnuts
60ml buttermilk
1 tsp of Matcha (optional; taste will be overpowered by the Tonka bean)
Pinch of Tonka bean shavings (grated with a microplane)

Preheat the oven at 180°
Line and butter a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
In a bowl, throw in the tonka bean shavings, sugar and butter. Cream together. Next add the eggs and beat into the mixture, followed by the flour, baking powder and hazelnut meal. Finally add the Matcha (if using) to the buttermilk and stir until thoroughly combined before pouring into the bowl and beating until a smooth batter is obtained. Pour into the tray and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cake clean.

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