Sunday, January 08, 2012

Just Past Their Prime Grapes Cake

Not everyone seeing a platter of tired looking grapes would think 'cake' but then not everyone loves to snack on fresh grapes and raw almonds. For some reason I just love that flavor combination. Now the grapes may be weary but they are still unspoiled, just a tiny bit dehydrated, not even close to being raisins. I picked through them carefully and ended up with enough to scatter fairly closely over the baking pan.

The second part is a recipe in Lauren Chattman's Cake Keeper Cakes. I baked a number of cakes from this lovely cookbook last year along with other Cake Slice Bakers. This year I needed a break, so cakes are few and far between since November. I'm pretty sure we never baked the Almond-Brown Butter Cake that I topped those grapes with but it provided that essential almond flavor, plus the topping is sliced almonds so I get actual almonds and grapes AND cake! Sweet.

I followed the recipe pretty closely with the exception of using 1 1/4 cups almond meal/flour (Bob's Red Mill brand) instead of processing the almonds and sugar. The rest was mostly as written, including the use of a vanilla bean. That and the browned butter added a great deal of flavor to the almond/grape pairing. Oh, I also skipped the rum & reduced the amount of sugar. Guess I really do have trouble keeping to a recipe.

So some afternoon when you have some fresh grapes, weary or not, try this cake. It goes great with a cup of hot tea on a winter afternoon. Sweetie thinks so, too. It was fine textured and moist and not too sweet although it was rich.

Almond-Brown Butter Cake with Grapes
Serves 8
10 tablespoons ( 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/2 vanilla bean (I used a whole one since I wasn't using the rum)
about 1 cup seedless grapes
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided (I used 1/4 cup less)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
8 large egg whites
pinch of salt
(2 tablespoons dark rum was in the original version)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the butter. Add the scraped pod to the pan.

Heat until the butter is lightly brown and gives off a nutty aroma, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully; it will burn quickly after it browns. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and pour the butter through a fine strainer to remove any burnt solids. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan (I used a 2 inch deep one and I'm glad it did as the cake rose impressively). Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the parchment. Dust the pan sides and parchment with flour, tapping out any excess flour. Evenly distribute the grapes over the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the almonds. Place the remaining 1 1/4 cups almonds and 3/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind fine. Add the flour and pulse to combine. (I used 1 1/4 cup almond flour, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour and whisked them together in a bowl.)

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl with the salt and beat until foamy. With the mixer on high, add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar (I only used 1/2 cup since I didn't want it to be so sweet) in a slow, steady stream and whip until the whites are shiny and hold stiff peaks. Fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the butter mixture and ending with the flour mixture. If using, fold in the rum.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, covering the grapes completely. Smooth with a spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds over the batter. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out dry, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the cooled cake onto a wire rack, then turn it right side up to cool completely. If desired, dust heavily with powdered sugar (I didn't and I'm glad because it was plenty sweet, even with the reduction in sugar).

Cut into wedges to serve. See those indentation in the photo at the bottom of the cake? Those are the grapes.

Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.


  1. Lynn got me started on those vanilla beans and I've never looked back.
    I encourage you to continue "almost but not entirely" following recipes because you always seem to take things in the most perfect directions!
    This is beautiful!

  2. Oh, WOW! I had a recipe for a foccacia that used grapes instead of sundried tomatoes or olives or something - but that's the only use of fresh grapes in baking that I've known about. You always find the most unique stuff!

  3. Tanna, Thanks. I should use vanilla beans more often...such a great fragrance and flavor. As far as changing recipes it seems I can't stop, so no worries there. :)

    Tanita, I just sort of made this up but I recently read about a bread that is made with dried pears, spices, and lots of fresh grapes...might have to try it.

  4. Anonymous7:39 AM

    Where did you get the cat linens I saw in one of the pictures? So cute!

    Love and hugs,

  5. Natasha, Couldn't resist using the cat figured towel for the photos. Sweetie had just gotten it from L&P for taking care of their cats over New Years and the illustrations are adorable.