Forgive me if I get a bit teary eyed as I think about my hometown of San Jose, California. When I saw that this week’s theme for Sunday Supper was regional specialties, I knew I had to share something special from my childhood. Just to share a bit of my background, I was born in Walnut Creek, CA and moved to San Jose at age 2. I lived in the same house until I was 24 and then moved into an apartment with a roommate. A few years later I got my first apartment on my own in downtown San Jose and lived there until I moved to Tampa in 2003, which was will be thirteen years next month. To this day, I am still homesick. Now, I have to share that cliche song……
“Do you know the way to San José?
I’ve been away so long
I may go wrong and lose my way
Do you know the way to San José?
I’m going back to find
Some peace of mind in San José” -Dionne Warwick
Ok, now let’s get back to my favorite subject….dessert. As I was trying to think of true San Jose recipe, I came across an article from KQED a few years back on an iconic San Jose recipe for Burnt Almond Cake. As I read the article, I began to reminisce about the many occasions I enjoyed a slice of Burnt Almond Cake from Dick’s Bakery in San Jose. While the article discusses the rivalry between two bakeries, Dick’s and Peter’s, which are about a 20 minute drive apart, I can only remember having this iconic cake from Dick’s. Located about ten minutes from the house I grew up in, this cake sure took me down memory lane. I could not think of a better reason to recreate this incredible cake and create new memories with my kids. This recipe also coincides with my current recipe project, #TracyTastesAmerica, as I am visiting each state in America via my kitchen and showcasing regional dishes. I am currently cooking my way across California and this cake is certainly a signature item from Silicon Valley.
As the article states, the recipe is is a mystery. I scoured the web trying to find the actual recipe with no success, however I did find a few copycats. I settled on one and made a few alterations. While baking this masterpiece, I started thinking about the history behind this recipe and the last time I actually had this cake. It is funny how sometimes we take things for granted and do not realize how special they are until it is too late. What I would not give to be able to hop in my car and head over to Dick’s Bakery for a slice of this decadent cake. For now, I will just have to settle for trying to recreate this delicious treat in my kitchen.
This was my first time making this cake and while it did not come out perfect, I must say I was pleased with the final product. Baking requires time, patience and dedication. There are a lot of steps to this cake and I learned so much from my first attempt that I will be able to make corrections for the next time. The original cake has this incredible custard layer that for the life of me I can not figure out how to make but my adaptation is the next big thing. This recipe is perfect for birthdays and family celebrations. One bite and you will be hooked.
I enjoyed taking a trip down memory line and thinking about my hometown. There is such a wonderful compilation of tasty regional recipes today from our Sunday Supper family and just reading them is making my mouth water. Have a wonderful Sunday and make it a delicious day.
- 1 (16.5 ounce) box French vanilla cake mix, Betty Crocker (I couldn't find French Vanilla by Betty Crocker so I used Duncan Hines)
- 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 1⁄2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon Torani or Monin vanilla-flavored syrup
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, room temperature)
- 3 TBS pure vanilla extract
- 5 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted)
- 41/2 TBS whole milk
- Preheat oven to 350
- Prepare and bake the French Vanilla cake mix according to package directions for 2 eight, or 2 nine inch, round cake pans. Remove from pans, allow cakes to cool completely.
- While cakes are cooling, spread 2 cups of sliced almonds on a dry baking sheet. Please in the oven at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. These almonds will burn in an instant. Check almonds progress after 5 minutes and then each minute there after. You are looking for a nice golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE ONCE YOU START THIS PROCESS!!!!
- To make the brittle: Combine sugar, honey and water in a heavy bottom pot. (I used my Le Cruset French oven) Bring to a boil over medium heat. Using a heat resistant rubber spatula, stir gently to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil over medium heat without stirring for about 8-10 minutes. Mixture will darken to a rich amber color.
- Remove the pot from the heat and quickly stir in the butter, 1/2 cup of the toasted almonds, and baking soda with the rubber spatula until butter has melted and baking soda is well combined.
- CAUTION! This liquid brittle is over 300 degrees at this point. Pour the liquid brittle on to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with a coating of nonstick butter flavored spray. Allow brittle to completely cool on a counter top until rock hard.
- Once hardened, break up the brittle in small pieces and place into a food processor. Process in small batches until the brittle has become a fine crumb consistency. *Very important to use a food processor to get the brittle nice and fine, as bigger chunks of brittle will be hard and sticky. My food processor broke a few months ago and I am using a temporary small one which did not do as efficient of a job. I spent a lot of time trying to get the perfect consistency.
- Simple Syrup: In a small pot add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes stirring to make sure all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1/2 tsp almond extract,1 tbsp Torani vanilla syrup. Set aside to cool.
- In a hand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, mix the butter until it becomes nice and fluffy. Slowing mix in the confectioner's sugar and then add the vanilla extract. Add milk and mix for about 5 additional minutes.Frosting should be think yet have a nice, spreadable consistency.
- Using a long serrated knife, slice each of the two cakes in half, horizontally. With a pastry brush, brush all layers on their cut side with the simple syrup. Place 1 cup of frosting between each layer, followed by a ¼ cup of the brittle crumbs on top of each layer of frosting. Repeat with each layer until you have 4 layers, one on top of the other, (cake, frosting, crumbs.) completed. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Adorn the cake with the remaining toasted almond slices onto the sides and all the way around the perimeter and top of the cake. Top off the cake with a layer of the remaining brittle crumbs. Refrigerate cake for at least 2 hours before serving. Overnight is ideal.
- Serve and enjoy!
- 8 cups Pastry Pride (or 8 cups premiere non-dairy whipped topping)
- Make the Pastry Pride icing according to package directions. It is as simple as placing the ice cold contents in the bowl of your mixer and whipping to stiff peaks; adding sugar to taste. I find most people prefer little to no sugar added.
- Crispy Salmon Bites with Homemade Tartar Sauce by Pine Needles In My Salad
- Loaded Tex-Mex Chile con Queso by The Weekend Gourmet
- New England Style Stuffed Clams by Caroline’s Cooking
- Brandy Old Fashioned by Curious Cuisiniere
- Wine Pairing Recommendations For #SundaySupper Regional Specialties by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- Pittsburgh Steak and Fries Salad by Seduction in the Kitchen
- Ranch Dressing by My Imperfect Kitchen
- Tupelo Honey Key Lime Vinaigrette by Family Around the Table
- Alabama White Barbecue Sauce by Cookin’ Mimi
- Delaware Crabs by Delaware Girl Eats
- JoJo Potatoes by A Mind Full Mom
- Long Beans with Coconut by Food Lust People Love
- Old Bay Cauli-Tots by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Southern Collard Greens by Magnolia Days
- Amish Chicken and Dumplings by Palatable Pastime
- Boiled Lobster with Drawn Butter by Taste And See
- Bison Steaks with Cranberry Chimichurri by Tramplingrose
- California Beer Steamed Shrimp by Nosh My Way
- California Roll Poke Salad by Brunch-n-Bites
- Cali Inspired Fish Tacos by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Cheesy Tex Mex Enchiladas by The TipToe Fairy
- Cola Marinated Steak Tips by Hardly a Goddess
- Corn and Bacon Chowder by Moore or Less Cooking
- Crab-Stuffed Artichokes with Spicy Aioli by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Deep Fried Pizza Roll by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce by The Texan New Yorker
- Hatch Chili Pepper Jack Burger by Fearless Dining
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Homemade Quebec Maple Baked Beans by She Loves Biscotti
- How to Make Vegetable Lumpia by Asian In America
- Italian Hot Dog by Simple and Savory
- Michigan Pasties by The Chef Next Door
- Mom’s City Chicken by My Life Cookbook
- North Carolina BBQ with Cole Slaw and Hush Puppies by The Freshman Cook
- Philly Cheesesteak Calzones by Baking Sense
- Polish Boy Sandwich by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Shrimp Scampi by My World Simplified
- Spicy Salmon for Tacos by Hey What’s for Dinner Mom?
- Tex-Mex Slowcooker Chicken and Beef Fajitas by Meal Planning Magic
- Wet Burritos by Wholistic Woman
- Angel Food Cupcakes by Cooking With Carlee
- Austrian Mohnnudeln (Poppy Seed Noodles) by The Bread She Bakes
- Butter Tarts – A Canadian Tradition by Red Cottage Chronicles
- Carob Cherry Crumb Bars by Pies and Plots
- Florida Key Lime Cream Pie by The Crumby Cupcake
- Fried Biscuits by Angels Home Sweet Homestead
- Gooey Butter Cake from Saint Louie! by Our Good Life
- Homemade Butterscotch Krimpets by The Redhead Baker
- Peanut Pie by Feeding Big and more
- San Jose Burnt Almond Cake by Eat, Drink and be Tracy
- Shoofly Pie by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Spanish Bar Cake by Get the Good Stuff!
- Sugar Cream Pie by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Plus Rhubarb Steamed Pudding and Favorite Regional Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.