Hello! I attempted Nigella's Apple And Almond Cake recently. The cake turned out too dense and soft and broke apart while removing from the tin. I baked it for over 45 minutes at 180 C until a fork came out clean. The sides and bottom were quite brown. What might the reason be? I ground the almonds with their skins on, would that make a difference? Thank you!
Nigella's Apple And Almond Cake (from Feast and on the Nigella website) is a flourless cake made with apple puree, ground almonds (almond meal) and eggs. As it doesn't contain any gluten the cake will tend to be slightly more fragile and a springform pan is best for this cake as it is easier to release and remove the cake. It may also help to run a thin-bladed spatula around the edge of the cake before un-springing the pan as this will help the cake to release from the edges of the pan without breaking. It may also help to leave the cake on the pan base for serving.
The cake will also be slightly damp and dense as it doesn't contain any chemical leavening (such as baking powder). If you ground the almonds yourself then it could be that they were slightly overworked in the food processor or grinder and had turned a little oily, which would lead to a slightly heavier cake. Leaving the skins on the almonds should not make a difference to the cake in this way, the main difference would be that you would see some small flecks of darker brown skins in the cake. It may help next time to grind the nuts with some of the sugar from the recipe as this will reduce the risk of the nuts becoming oily.
It may be that the cake was also slightly underbaked in the centre and Nigella does mention that the cake may take slightly longer (or slightly less time) to bake than the 45 minutes stated in the recipe. If the outside is browning too quickly then you may need to check the oven is not running too hot (you can use an oven thermometer for this) or bake the cake on a slightly lower shelf. If it is a fan or convection oven then you may also need to reduce the temperature of your oven, check the manufacturer's handbook for guidance.