Spring has sprung! Well, in my kitchen at least–and in some parts of my yard. I found a small patch of daffodils blooming outside, Mother Nature’s promise that warmer, more colorful days are ahead of us.
I certainly don’t mind the rainy season and I enjoyed last week’s playtime in the snow. However, I’m a summer girl at heart; the sun has a way of brightening dark spirits–not just my own but of those around me. The fragrant sunshine-y flowers reminded me of a recipe I bookmarked sometime ago that I just knew I would love.
These tea cakes are from François Payard, of Payard Patisserie and Bistro (replaced by François Payard Bakery). I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting any of his stores but I appreciate what I’ve read about his philosophy about pastry. For Mr. Payard, flavor is the key to a great dessert, the goal of making confections look sensational only secondary. I daresay he has accomplished both and I’m a fan of his focus on translating his recipes in a way that an untrained home cook like me can easily understand.
Case in point: These pineapple tea cakes couldn’t have been easier to make and the results were nothing short of beautiful in both appearance and flavor. The key ingredients are almond and pineapple. I’ve never put them together but what a great combination. The almond paste creates a fragrant cake that is nicely dense, nutty, chewy–leading the way for the bright, spring-like freshness of the pineapple. The original recipe makes 100 petit fours but I reduced the recipe by a third and I regret it. I only had one tube of almond paste and didn’t have any piping equipment so I adjusted the recipe accordingly. Almonds are always in abundance in my kitchen and I should have made my own almond paste. It’s not only cheaper to make it yourself but it’s also very easy. My homemade version is here. I will also add that it’s not necessary to pipe the batter into mini cups. I spooned it onto a few silicon cups and poured the rest into my 4-inch mini tart pans. A few minutes of extra baking time yielded equally good results. Next time I won’t cut the recipe short. These cakes are meant to be enjoyed in large quantities.
Bite into Spring with these lovely little cakes!
Pineapple Tea Cakes
from François Payard’s Simply Sensational Desserts
Note: I’ll give you the original portions here and my reduced version in italics. The original recipe will make 100 mini cakes and my version was enough for two 4-inch tarts, 8 mini cakes and one regular cupcake.
- 1 pound, 10 ounces (750 grams) almond paste (I used one tube of almond paste which is about 198 grams. You can make it yourself using my recipe, link above.)
- 2 tablespoons (35 grams) apricot preserves (I used 3 heaping teaspoons)
- 5 large eggs (I used 2 large eggs)
- 3 large egg yolks (I used one)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (81 grams) all-purpose flour (I used 1/4 cup)
- 14 tablespoons (200 grams) melted butter (I used about one fourth of this, 55 grams)
- Fresh pineapple chunks, cut into 1/4-inch cubes.
- Confectioner’s sugar to top cakes
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. If you’re opt to make 100 petit fours, arrange your 1-inch cups on a large baking sheet. If you’re using mini tart pans, butter the inside of the tart pans (with a removable bottom) and set aside.
Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the almond paste and the apricot preserve at medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next. Do the same when adding the egg yolks. Add the flour next, making sure your mixer is set on low speed. Lastly, add the melted butter and mix until well blended.
You can use a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip to fill the cups with batter but I used a teaspoon and tapped the batter into the silicone molds with no problems. Alternatively, you can use 4-inch tart pans to bake the cakes. Just fill whichever baking vessel you use 3/4 of the way up.
Place a cube of pineapple on top of each cup. I added more in both the little cups and the tart pans. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the batter.
Bake the cakes. The mini cups will take 25-28 minutes while the mini tarts will take 8-10 minutes longer. Bake until light golden brown and let cool on the baking sheet or on a wire rack. The cakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.