Sunken Grape Almond Cake

Sunken Grape Almond Cake
Sunken Grape Almond Cake
I saw this idea on an Italian cooking show some years ago where they made a grape cake to celebrate the beginning of the harvest. It came to mind this week when I saw some sweet and tart little Coronation grapes from southern Ontario which are in season right now. They are related to Concord grapes which, like any small grape variety could be easily substituted.

I decided to use an almond cake recipe that I really like but unfortunately the batter was too light, rose too much and then sank in the center. It tasted delicious but looked a complete disaster. Back to the drawing board. Spouse's mom, Violet was here at the time and happily took the delicious but rough looking first attempt home to enjoy.  In contradiction to the popular phrase, I guess that ill wind actually did blow her some good. She seemed delighted to have it.

Sunken Grape Almond Cake
Sunken Grape Almond Cake

I still had plenty of those tasty little grapes left over, so the next day, attempt number two got underway. I tweaked the amount of flour and baking powder in the recipe and within the first 20 minutes in the oven, it was clear this attempt was at least going to be a visual success. The proof was still in the tasting, of course and it turns out I had nothing to worry about on that count either; tender, buttery, nutty and with sweet and tart pops of flavor from the tiny grapes that had sunk into the center, it was perfectly delicious and just how I had imagined it would taste.

It would be perfect at a weekend brunch or even as dessert at a special dinner. Like in my Pear and Almond Cake, this dessert would no doubt be excellent served with Creme Anglais or any good custard.

Sunken Grape Almond Cake
Sunken Grape Almond Cake
Serves about 12

Grease a 10 inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper for easy release of the cake after it is baked. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift together and set aside:

  • 1 cup toasted ground almonds
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt

I toast whole almonds in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-8 minutes on a cookie sheet. tossing them at least once. I then grind them very finely in a food processor. Be sure to lightly pack the ground almonds into the measuring cup.

Cream together until light and fluffy:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Beat in, one at a time:

  • 3 eggs

Stir in:

  • zest of one small lemon, finely chopped

Mix in the dry ingredients until smooth and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place small grapes all over the surface of the batter about a 1/4 inch (6mm) apart. Any variety of small grape will work or you can use small pitted cherries or large blueberries instead. Do not push them into the batter just drop them onto the surface. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until evenly brown on top and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before releasing the cake and cooling on a wire rack. If you are serving the cake warm, you should still wait the 20  minutes to allow it to settle before cutting.

Sunken Grape Almond Cake
Sunken Grape Almond Cake

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