Tartine Baking Project: #46 Almond Breakfast Cake with fresh fruit and crumble topping

Brunch is my favorite meal.  Breakfast is nearly as wonderful.  I get excited looking at a menu and deciding between fancy French toast or huevos rancheros.  I get giddy planning out the perfect balance of savory and sweet for my own Sunday brunches.  Even though I taught high school science and I understand this is physically impossible, I’m pretty sure fresh squeezed orange juice runs through my blood.  Either that, or Bloody Marys.

So, when my sister let me know she was coming over this weekend, my first thought went to what I was going to make for Sunday brunch.  One of the last things (maybe the last?!) in the breakfast section of the cookbook was this almond breakfast cake.  I have been so excited to make this!!!  Yes!  You can substitute any seasonal fruit in this breakfast treat.  I opted for sautéing some pears.  I was tempted to grab a pineapple, but the pears literally fell as I walked past them at the grocery store.  I took it as a sign from the lords of fruit, and I followed their call.

I used my mortar and pestle to make almond meal, and varied the types of pears I used for a subtle impact on the flavor. 

Covered in sautéed pears, ready for the crumble topping.  (And, I used a 9″ pie dish because I didn’t have an 8″ glass cake dish.)

If you’ve been following along, I am always paranoid about under baking things.  It gets me so very anxious.  So, with the addition of fresh fruit, it was hard to gauge the doneness of this cake!  There was even a warning about this in the recipe, which increased the anxiety level exponentially.  Worst case scenario: I imagined I’d have a table of friends all watching me slice into a sloppy, wet breakfast cake.

You can see all of the wounds where I was poking around to see if it was done!

Brunch! Scrambled eggs with spinach and aged Vermont cheddar, turkey sausage, blueberries + strawberries, coffee, mimosas, and the almond breakfast cake with sautéed pears.

Not my favorite picture, but it does include my pear mug, which seemed fitting for today.

A cake made for breakfast just may be my favorite brunch treat.  I cannot speak enough wonderful things about this recipe, and I have a high standard for breakfast and brunch staples.  I woke up this morning debating what I am more excited about: baking this breakfast cake with freshly picked raspberries, or the Hunger Games movie.  Don’t make me choose.


Tartine Baking Project: #42 Chocolate Almond Toffee

Chocolate?  I’m in.  Almond?  Yup.  Love it.  Toffee?  Um… Not such a big fan there.  My mom used to get Heath bars in flurries whenever we went for ice cream.  I thought toffee was something old people ate.  But as I’ve gotten older I’ve never acquired the taste for toffee.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve actually tried it in years.  So, this is the interesting part of baking every single thing in a cookbook.  There are things I would never get excited about, or even give a second thought as I was perusing the pages deciding on just what I wanted to bake.  Toffee definitely falls into the category of “I Would Never Choose You.”

Roasting the almonds beforehand.

I had everything set and ready to go, as these confectionery endeavors move fast and furious.  Come to think of it, that would be a more entertaining movie than those cars speeding around.

Mondays are pretty busy around here, getting back into the swing of things and ready for the week.  I thought baking something that really only took ten minutes of real focus was a good move.  Wouldn’t you know it, I chose the ten minutes that happen to be the most hectic and crazy of the entire day.  I will spare you the details, but you know I have a toddler and there is potty training happening these days.  I was sure I messed up the toffee.  It just sets up so quickly once you pour it on the sheet, and it just looked like an ugly mess.  I didn’t have time to spread it out all the way, and the texture seemed to be off.  I actually had to Google images of toffee to alleviate my fears that I had really messed this up.

The ugliest pile of sugary sweet goodness.

This is why I love this project.  I’m being stretched, expanding my routine of things I am familiar with baking, or simply eating.  While this particular toffee of mine would never win any prizes for “Prettiest Confection” (I don’t know if that’s really an award anywhere), it would probably win a blindfolded taste test anywhere.  At least that’s what my friends are telling me.  I currently have the stuffiest nose and cannot taste anything.  From what I gather it tastes like something along the lines of “sugary” along with the familiar crunch of almonds and the creamy texture of really good chocolate.  That is enough to keep me dipping back into the container all morning.