Friday, 27 January 2017

Pain de Gênes

Most people I know are not only deeply suspicious of fat these days but are also putting on false beards and crossing the street to avoid bumping into sugar and so I suppose it's not surprising that I haven't added a cake recipe to the blog lately. But here's one that I've had around for a while. For some incomprehensible reason I was reluctant to publish this recipe because I thought that it wasn't an authentic Pain de Gênes. That's the first time I've been bothered by authenticity and, to be honest, it will probably be the last time too.

The original and authentic Pain de Gênes should be made with almond paste unless I'm much mistaken (and I could be) but this recipe uses ground almonds and no flour. Oddly enough, I first came across this style of Pain de Gênes in my venerable copy of the 1950's classic 'Constance Spry Cookery Book' but since then I've seen a number of French recipes that are made in a similar way. It's a beautifully moist cake with an excellent almond flavour and, even better, it's really easy to make. It works either with afternoon tea or as a dessert with fruit and maybe some creamy substances.

So here's my version of a Pain de Gênes but please note that authenticity is not my strong point.

Pain de Gênes
110 g unsalted butter, softened, plus a bit more for the tin
130 g caster sugar
100 g ground almonds
3 eggs
3 rounded tbsp potato flour
2 tbsp amaretto liqueur

Butter an 18 cm or 19 cm round tin. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly. Briefly beat in the ground almonds until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Lightly but thoroughly stir in the potato flour and the liqueur. Pour into the prepared tin, level the mixture and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. A knifepoint inserted in the centre should come out clean. (See, I told you it was easy to make).

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. The top of this cake is prone to cracking but I don't mind a few cracks so I don't try to cover them up. As far as I can tell the plain and slightly cracked top is traditional but I've also seen Pain de Gênes decorated with flaked almonds or showered with icing sugar if you feel it needs something.
Pain de Gênes

7 comments:

  1. I love cakes like this one, lots of almonds and no frills. The inclusion of Amaretto makes it sound even better.
    As for the latest fad of avoiding sugar, the food industry has a lot to answer for, sneaking sugar into things where it has no place, but most of us would eat a more sensible amount of sugar if we hadn't become hooked on ready meals and processed food.

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    1. Can't disagree about the way sugar has found its way into foods but I'm also surprised how very sweet many of the modern low sugar or sugar free products are. Far too sweet for me in many cases but presumably its what the industry thinks we all want.

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  2. At the risk of sounding a bit strange, I bet this is the nuts with some proper custard. Maybe it's a Northern thing. Or not.

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    1. That's not strange; you're absolutely right. I don't think custard is a Northern thing, although when I'm in the north I'm often told that my liking for cold rather than hot custard is either a Southern or a Woolyback thing.

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  3. I love simple cakes like this, especially with ground almonds. I just happen to have some Amaretto in a tiny bottle, which I won at Christmas in a raffle!

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    1. I do like a drop of Amaretto now and then in baking and in cocktails as well to be honest. You've reminded me that I won quite a nice bottle of wine in a Christmas tombola that I've yet to get round to drinking and that's very remiss of me.

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  4. Now that sounds like a super recipe - easy and delicious. Adding potato flour seems a little odd, but I'm happy to go with it. One of the best chocolate cakes I've ever eaten was made with mashed potato.

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