One of my resolutions is to be a perimeter shopper, someone who avoids the interior aisles full of boxes and cans in favor of the fruits, vegetables, dairy, bread and meat on the outside of the store. For years my family has been moving in that direction, and in truth we buy very little processed food as it is. But until this year there have been exceptions, such as cereal, frozen breakfast burritos and the organic mac and cheese my kids eat with a sitter when my husband and I go out.
And since honesty is the best policy, I’ll ‘fess up to one more. Brownie mix.
How many times have I turned to those boxes when I needed a quick, sure-to-please dessert? Too many to count. But last week when I was expecting a houseful of folks for a nighttime meeting, I had no box to turn to. So I did what my grandmother would have done and pulled out a cookbook. I flipped through, looking for something quick and easy, not to mention something that could be made with basic pantry ingredients as I didn’t have time to run to the store. What I found was this delicate almond cake, which is hardly more complicated than what comes from a box but is infinitely more special because it clearly is not.
scant 1 cup white flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 T almond extract
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch cake pan, then line with wax paper and grease paper, too. Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add melted butter, egg and almond extract and mix well. Pour into pan, sprinkle almonds on top and bake about 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.