As the days of April begin to fade, it seems as though the completely inexplicable “Birthday Season” is upon me. I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden atleast a third of all my close friends and familys are having their birthday between now and the end of May. An admittedly weird coincidence, I think it’s kinda fun, aside from all of the stress of making all of those presents and cakes. No one even asks anymore; It’s simply assumed that I’ll be bringing a cake to their party. Not that I’m the least bit upset, either… I’d probably be offended if they asked someone else to make it, anyways.
So the wheels are in motion and I’ve already survived my first birthday cake! It nearly gave me a heart attack though; I’d never made this recipe before, and from the time it came out of the oven to the day it was served, I worried that something would either be wrong with the texture or flavor. Of course, my concern was proved to be ungrounded.
Although I couldn’t be there for the party, I hear that my almond cake with a chocolate topping was very well recieved.
The recipe was based very loosely on one I found at The Vegan Chef, but I ended up changing so many things, it’s an entirely different creation altogether. The original had chocolate as a part of the cake itself, but I thought it would create more interest to have them separated in this case. Also, I didn’t have nearly enough almonds to make the two layers, so I cut them with equal parts of kinako.
Kinako (黄粉), for those of you now scratching your head in confusion, is a type of flour made of ground soybeans, which tastes almost nutty and a little bit sweet. You can find it at your local Asian market or maybe even generic specialty groceries, but if you can’t hunt down a bag, don’t panic. You could easily substitute more ground almonds to no ill effects. I highly reccomend you go the extra mile and try to get your hands on the kinako nonetheless; The flavor is so unique, I’m not sure you could find it anywhere else.
As you can see from the above photo, this is a very moist, dense cake. I had feared it was underbaked, but aparently the birthday girl claims she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. This is a birthday, after all – Go indulge yourself a little!
The topping is the “Chocolate Ganache-y Frosting” from Vegan with a Vengance, the best vegan cookbook out there (If I’ve failed to say so yet.) To finish it all off, I just toasted up some sliced almonds and sprinkled them around the rim. Completely hassle-free, you don’t even need cake decorating skills to make this look like a professional affair!
In case you’d like a little extra guidance to dry-roast the almonds for decoration, just take a good handful (Maybe 1/2 cup?) of sliced almonds and throw them onto a baking sheet. When your oven hits 400 degrees, let them toast for just 5-10 minutes, but keep a good eye on them. They can go from nutty accents to burnt turds very quickly!