Did you go into the kitchen yesterday morning to have a large, healthy glass of water?
Of course you did.
Because you’re smart, and good, and nutritional-like.
Did you decide to throw yourself a bone and amp your water up by turning it into your favorite agua fresca? Perhaps. Innocent enough.
Horchata is made with ground rice and almonds. It’s cool and refreshing. And it’s a water-based beverage so no harm, no foul.
Did you think about the lovely flavors of Horchata while you were mixing your drink and come to the conclusion that they would make an excellent cake?
Fair enough. We’re just thinking here. No confectionary steps have been taken.
No ovens have been preheated. No pans lined and greased. No batter has been mixed. Not a single shred of coconut has been toasted.
And certainly no frosting has been whipped. None. Absolutely, positively none.
Because you’re good. And nutritional-like.
Did you catch a glimpse of your reflection in that stainless steel whisk?
Did you realize, at the precipice of a complete shame spiral, that you had come into the kitchen for a glass of water and were leaving with a face full of frosting-covered cake?
No way. Couldn’t have happened.
That wasn’t you, was it? I can’t imagine. No one does that.
And certainly if someone did do that, it would be a problem.
That person would have to admit their problem. They might have to go on a show and talk about their problem. They would need to put their fork down for just a second and stop eating Horchata Cake in order to keep themselves from exacerbating their problem.
So I think we’ve learned our lesson here today, haven’t we?
If you are ever, ever thinking about making a cake instead of drinking a glass of healthful water, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
It’s just not worth it. How could it be? We all know that water tastes so, so much better than cake. Ten times out of ten.
I’m super glad that I could share this fictional account with you as a sort of public service announcement. Just remember, I’m here to help.
For the cakes:
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg yolks
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/4 c. long-grain rice, ground (see below for additional information on preparing the rice)
1 1/2 c. almonds, skinless, ground (see below for additional information on preparing the almonds)
2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
5 large egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
3 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. coconut, shredded, sweetened, chopped (see below for additional information on preparing the coconut)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease 3- 9″ circular cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment and grease the tops of the parchment lining. Set the pans aside.
Using a spice or coffee grinder and working in small batches, grind the almonds and rice to a fine powder. When processing the almonds, be sure not to grind for too long or you will end up with almond butter. Some small pieces of almond and/or rice are fine – neither needs to be completely pulverized.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.
In a very large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla and continue to mix. Add dry ingredients slowly to wet ingredients, alternating with buttermilk and mixing carefully but thoroughly until a uniform batter has formed. Fold in the ground almonds and rice.
Pour the batter into the 3 prepared pans (fill each pan approximately halfway) and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove baked cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before unmolding.
Meanwhile, chop the flaked coconut (this is not an exact science, you are just generally reducing the size of the pieces to make the finished frosting a little neater). Place the coconut pieces on a pan and toast for 6-8 minutes on the top rack of your oven. Watch your coconut carefully – it will burn in an instant – you just want it to turn a light golden color and become slightly crisp. Set the toasted coconut aside to cool.
To prepare the frosting, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes or until it reaches 242° on a candy thermometer, whichever comes first. Remove the syrup from heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in the sugar syrup and continue to beat until stiff peaks reform. Fold in the coconut. Chill the finished frosting until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Once the cakes have cooled, unmold them (I strongly recommend using cardboard cake rounds to transport and support the layers of this cake as you assemble it). Using a serrated knife, slice off any bumps or ridges that are left in the tops of each cake layer so that they will lay as flat as possible. Place your foundation layer bottom down and spread the top with frosting. Carefully stack your next two layers, also bottom down, and frost generously in between each layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with remaining frosting. Serve immediately.
YIELD: approximately 10-12 servings