Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Almond Honey Orange Cake with Balsamic Strawberries and Whipped Mascarpone

As it gets deeper and deeper into the school year, and midterm after midterm pulls me deeper into insanity, I can’t help but woefully reminisce about the sweet freedom of summer. In the midst of this nostalgia for friends and home, here is a bright, fresh ode to summer smack dab in the middle of fall. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am, without a speck of shame, totally obsessed with anything fall- all the squash, all the cozy spices, all the leaves, everything. But the mental and physical toll of college has definitely made me nostalgic for the carefree spontaneity of summer with all my San Diegan friends. I look through the pictures of all our summer adventures probably every day, wishing I was there again in that state of mind without a care in the world except for soaking up every second of summer. 

Okay, this is sounding kind of depressing, so on to what’s been great about college! Of course, the big thing about college that everyone talks about is independence. Even the little things like going grocery shopping (by grocery shopping I mean bags and bags of hot cheetos), and using a debit card with my name on it when I go out to eat feels weird but good. Okay I’m gonna be real here- I started writing this post a month ago and started on it again right now on the flight to Seattle for Thanksgiving break. Why do I procrastinate on literally everything, even the things I enjoy, I don’t know. 

Enough with the blabber and on with the main star of this post! This cake is inspired by a cake that was made in one of the cooking classes I attended at Pirch, a home design company. They have the most beautiful kitchen models you will ever see- I squeal inside whenever I walk into that majestic place. And on top of everything, they offer free cooking demos and classes throughout the week in their custom kitchen! I mean, what more could you ask for. 

Everything about this cake is relatively simple- a honey sponge with macerated strawberries. But the few ingredients harmonize so well together in one delicious, summery bite. If you’re ever nostalgic for summer, this recipe is sure to bring you back to those bright, carefree days. 

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Macerated Strawberries:
2 cups strawberries
1-2 tbsp honey
2 tsp balsamic
1 tsp orange zest

Whipped Mascarpone:
4 oz mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper or grease well.
2. In a medium bowl, combine both flours, salt, BP, BS, and orange zest. Whisk until well incorporated. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Then, add the oil, honey, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well incorporated.
3. Add half of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until incorporated. Add the remaining half. Stir until incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 60-70 min, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5. While the cake is baking, prepare the strawberries. Slice the strawberries however you'd like and place in a large bowl. Add the honey, balsamic, and orange zest. Toss the strawberries so that they are evenly coated. Add more of each ingredient to taste. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
6. Whip heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until it is just about at the stiff peak stage. Whip the mascarpone to loosen. Add the heavy cream to the mascarpone and whip until incorporated.
7. When the cake is done, let it cool to room temperature on a cooling rack. Then, spread the mascarpone over the cake and top with the strawberries.
8. Enjoy this bright, summery cake outside in the sunshine!

{when you don't have a fancy marble slab so you just use your floor}

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