10" Round, Double-Layer Almond Cake with Nutella Buttercream and a Pine Cone
What says Fall more than a beautiful collection of pine cones? And this cake has just the perfect pine cone for holiday baking.
I don't typically think of pairing Almonds with Nutella, but I wanted to bake this sponge and looked in the pantry for inspiration. As soon as I caught sight of the Nutella, I thought for sure it would be a winner. For the sake of home bakers everywhere, I dipped a whole almond into this luscious hazelnut spread for a simple taste test. "We have a winner!"
It wasn't really clear to me why I wanted to bake such a large, two layer cake... but I've learned to just roll with it. There is real beauty in the simple things and simple often times requires more patience. That's what this cake taught me.
After I had this cake planned out... two layers, Nutella filling, smooth buttercream...how did this cake want to be decorated? What would look interesting? Where is my inspiration coming from?
This time of year is filled with the exploding colors of the leaves changing on the trees as well as the flotsam and jetsam of wooded areas pulling more focus. Things I don't typically notice in the summer really capture my eye in October and November. This is where we land at pine cones.
Looking online, there wasn't a tsunami of ideas, but I did see this inspirational pine cone cheese ball courtesy of the FoodNetwork.com. It sparked my imagination and I developed something similar for my simple Fall cake.
Most of the ingredients.
The goal is to attach almond slices to an egg shape. Applying the slices in a similar pattern that shingles are applied to a roof gives the egg its pine cone look. I chose to melt chocolate as an adhesive and started at the narrow point of the egg.
Epic Fail. At first I couldn't figure out how many ways this went wrong. I think...the egg is too small for the size of the shingles. Also, it was very ineffective to dip the egg into the chocolate and apply the almonds. Time to move on to the next option.
Next up was the Kinder Egg; it's larger and still chocolatey. I had to be incredibly careful in how I handled the egg. Since it is hollow, I could feel my fingertips melting a hole. By peeling down the tin foil, I was able to handle the wrapping without destroying the integrity of the shape. In applying the shingles, I gently dipped each almond slice into the chocolate and 'glued' it onto the egg.
These chocolate eggs are illegal in the U.S. because the toy inside is a potential choking hazard. If this option had failed, I was prepared to shape an egg out of a large cupcake. As it was, I liked the results of this effort.
Instead of adding green sprigs of something, I chose to dip a couple pretzel sticks in the melted chocolate I was already using with the almond shingle slices.
This is how the cake went together.
The crumb coating took every bit of a single batch of buttercream. I tend to forget that the larger cakes require a considerable amount of filling and frosting. It makes sense taking into account the amount of real estate that needs covering.
This is such a delightful cake.
I'm grateful to bake cake.
I'm grateful that I have time to think about design.
I'm grateful for my partner.
I'm grateful for sobriety.
I'm grateful for the people we raised together.