Libby’s birthday was last weekend and we made this cake to celebrate! IT WAS AMAZING. One of the best cakes I have ever had in my life. Hands down.
The cake itself is simple – not too sweet and slightly dense. The pastry cream filling in the middle adds a touch of sweetness and pairs perfectly with the cake. The honey almond caramel crunch topping however, is a whole other story. This is what makes the cake.
You make caramel, but it is sweetened with honey so it has a wonderfully, unique flavor. Then you mix almonds into it and you get honey caramel coated almonds – amazing by themselves! Add this to the top of your cake and you’ve got the best cake you’ll ever have.
A couple of things to be aware of: the milk, eggs and butter for the cake need to be at room temperature – so be sure you get those out early. Also, there is a total of an hour and a half of rising time for the cake. Be sure to account for that!
Honey Almond Caramel Crunch Topped Cake with Custard Cream Filling
Makes one 9×9, single layer cake (although you slice the one layer in half for the filling)
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (one 1 1/4 oz package) – not active dry!
3/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
Two pinches of sea salt
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Two pinches of sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1. Set out the milk, eggs and butter for the cake in advance so they are at room temperature when you are ready to make the cake.
2. First, make the cake batter: Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring until combined, then for an additional two minutes. Scrape down the sides, cover with a towel and let rise for one hour.
3. After an hour, butter a 9-inch cake pan. Stir the batter to deflate it slightly and then pour it into the prepared pan. You may have to really shake the pan to get the batter to cover the whole thing. Cover again with a towel and let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
4. During the second rise, make the honey almond caramel topping: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will become a shade darker. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds. It’s no longer going to be liquidy, it’s going to be all almonds 🙂 Set aside to cool slightly, until the second rise of the cake is completed.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the cake has finished its second rise, scoop out the almond topping and spread it evenly over the top of the cake. (Save yourself a little bit to snack on too!) Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes, until the almonds are slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for ten minutes before removing it from the pan. Run a knife around the edges before you remove it and then invert it onto another cooling rack or plate. The almonds won’t fall off when you invert it, so don’t worry. Let cool completely.
6. While the cake is cooling, make the custard filling: Warm the milk in a medium saucepan and then pour into a bowl or cup (ideally with a spout). Set aside. In a new saucepan, or the previous one cleaned and dried, whisk the yolks and sugar vigorously for one minute – off the heat. Whisk in flour and salt. Drizzle in the warm milk, a spoonful at a time, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added half the milk, add the rest in a steady drizzle. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium-high heat until it bubbles. Reduce to a simmer for one to two minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Let the custard cool completely.
7. When the custard and cake are both cool, you can assemble the cake. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half and place the bottom half on a serving platter. Spread the pastry cream on top of the bottom layer and then place the top half back onto the cake. Serve and enjoy!