This is a riff on a splendid recipe from Flavor Flours (Artisan 2014) by Alice Medrich. —Alice Medrich
one 9-inch cake
(30 grams) softened butter
(38 grams) brown sugar (it’s fine to use ordinary brown sugar -- dark is more flavorful than light. If you want to go all out, use a real raw sugar such as light muscovado sugar. Big wow.)
(100 grams) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium fine
(55 grams) unsalted butter
(100 grams) oat flour
(130 grams) sugar, divided
large eggs, cold
generous 1/8 teaspoons
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
9 x 2-inch round pan
Stand mixer with whisk attachment
Medium mesh strainer or sifter
Fine mesh strainer (or tea strainer)
In This Recipe
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.
Mix the softened butter with the brown sugar and spread it evenly over the bottom, and about 3/4 of the way up, the sides of the pan. Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with the nuts; use your fingers as necessary to stick the nuts to the sides of the pan. Set aside.
Cut the butter in chunks and put in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan near the stove. Put the fine strainer and a 4 to 6 cup bowl nearby for later -- the bowl needs to be big enough to hold the butter and accomodate some of the batter.
In another medium bowl, whisk the oat flour with 25 grams (2 tablespoons) of the sugar.
Put the remaining sugar, eggs, and salt in the mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the mixture on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture is tripled in volume and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon when the beater is lifted.
While the eggs are beating, brown the butter: Cook the butter over medium heat until it is melted and bubbling. Continue to cook, whisking gently until the butter is golden brown and the milk particles suspended in it are a bit darker. Immediately strain the butter into the bowl you've set aside.
As soon as the egg mixture is whipped, remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift 1/3 of the oat flour mixture over the eggs. Fold until the flour in almost blended. Repeat with half of the remaining flour. Repeat with the rest of the flour, folding until all of the flour is blended.
Scrape about 1/4 of the batter over the hot butter. Fold until the butter is completely blended into the batter. Then scrape this buttery batter over the remaining batter and fold just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy on top and barely beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Slide a slim spatula around the sides of the cake and unmold it onto a rack. Immediately turn the cake right side-up and place it on another rack to finish cooling.
Serve the cake right side-up or nutty side-up, whichever looks better to you. Either way, you can sift a tiny bit of powdered sugar on top. Or not.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).