Kudos And Thanks
I don't bake much and I almost never bake cakes. Of course, I love them, but I'm not talented in that department - my cakes are usually flattish. Hmm.
Baking cakes brings back the memory of the first scratch cake I ever baked, back when our family lived in Argentia, Newfoundland. Stop me if you've heard this already.
I was twelve when my best friend, Ginna Morgan, and I decided to bake a cake. We asked her mother for direction, which she happily gave, but then went off to do something, leaving us in charge. We sifted the flour as she taught us and found the Crisco on top of the fridge and happily scooped it into the batter (I have since learned that anything made with butter tastes better), poured the batter into the cake pans and slid it into the oven.
It was a yellow cake, so we weren't surprised at the color of the resulting layers. We iced it with dark chocolate icing and served the first piece to Mrs. Morgan as thanks for her assistance. We watched eagerly as she took the first bite.
She, quite literally, spat it out. And scraped her tongue with the fork. And said, "Good heavens! What have you done to this cake???" Crestfallen, we walked her through all the steps, including the sifting of the flour and the adding of the Crisco. When we reached for the Crisco can on top of the fridge, she said, "Oh, no, not that Crisco! I use that to fry fish!" She was a good, frugal Catholic wife who fried fish on Fridays, straining and reusing the oil, which she kept in a Crisco can, each week.
With that as my background, I approached the Strawberry Almond Crunch Cake with trepidation, but years of reasonable (if flattish) cakes had made me brave. The recipe just sounded so darn good that I threw aside my fears and dove in.
I had to do some substituting, as I didn't have all the ingredients - what else is new? The story of my life. I subbed in a cup of plain yogurt for the buttermilk in the recipe, and that worked just fine. I didn't have cake flour, but sifted regular flour will do. I also didn't have sliced almonds, so I used my food processor to slice some. It didn't make them pretty, but it didn't seem to matter - the result was lovely, anyway.
I'm so glad I tried it - this is easily the best cake I have ever made. Moist and light, with crunchy almonds and topping, and pockets of fresh, gooey strawberries, it's not as sweet as an iced cake, but it does have a nice, sort of toffee-ness under the layer of almonds. The crunch comes both from the almonds, which toast on top of the cake as it bakes, and the topping, which crystallizes in the oven.
My strawberries mostly sank to the bottom, so next time I will chop them finer and hope they suspend throughout the cake, but that's just nitpicking. While strawberries are still in season, don't hesitate to make this cake. You, too, will be giving Kudos and Thanks to The Hungry Dog.