Pavé aux amandes

Sum-sum-sum-sum-sum-sum summer time!  It's been a good one so far.  Teaching classes at the new Sur La Table here in Grand Rapids and baking croissants, pain au chocolat and croissant aux amandes for Nonna Cafe have been keeping me busy (not to mention a little gardening, family visits and the odd day trip here and there).

Periodically looking back at some of the classic recipes from pastry school, I recently decided to make a classic French pavé aux amandes, a moist, dense-but-not-heavy almond cake.

I think of this as one of the many treats that kids might enjoy for le gouter, the traditional afternoon snack time in France, usually around 4 pm.  And of course adults wouldn't mind it either with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

Top it with a delicious whipped mascarpone cream and some fresh seasonal fruit and you have yourself a tasty dessert!

It's a simple and straight forward recipe, baked in a 9" square shallow pan lined with parchment, buttered, then sliced almonds layered on the bottom.

les ingredients

Cream 125 gram softened butter with 200 grams sugar until blended.  I do this in a medium bowl with a spatula, but you can also use a stand mixer with the paddle - just don't cream too long since you really don't want to aerate this batter.  It's meant to be a dense cake.

Then blend in 250 grams egg (about 5 whole eggs) followed by 250 grams blanched almond flour.

Note: for a bit of variation add some orange zest and a splash of vanilla and/or almond extract to punch up the flavor.  Yum.

And that's it!  How easy is that, eh??

The trickiest part of this whole thing is transferring the batter to the prepared pan.  Do it carefully - I place blobs of batter over sections of the pan, then gently spread so as not to dislodge the almonds on the bottom.

evenly spread and ready for the oven

Bake at 325ºF for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown, there is no jiggling in the center and it feels firm to touch.  You'll see a few moist crumbs if checking with a skewer or cake tester.

Carefully run a knife around the edges of the cake and turn it out onto a cooling rack.

Once cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar and dig in!

The flavor is subtly almond, the texture is dense yet light and the crumb oh-so-moist.

And guess what - Steve liked it!!  Yay!!!