(Second try--my blogging client ate my first post...)
The Catalán Salt Pinch Cake is different from my usual baking in a couple of ways. First, it's another sponge cake, a type I'd never baked before getting into the Heavenly Cakes bake-along. Second is the serving method--you pinch off pieces of the cake. Or that's the traditional way--a knife works, too.
Once again my cake didn't come out as it should have, and I'm at a loss to explain this one. Maybe I've got some sort of cake-curse going on. All seemed to go according to the directions, but when I started serving the cake I found a thin layer of compacted cake at the bottom. Dense and rubbery, it was darker than the rest of the cake and not very edible. Maybe like eating a tenderized linoleum tile...
This isn't a complicated cake but it does require a standing mixer or arms of steel. The first step is to grind toasted almonds in a food processor with some sugar until very fine--these replace part of the flour in the cake. Then it's over to the mixer to make a meringue, and fold in the ground almonds. Then comes the 'arms of steel' part--beating in 6 eggs, 2 tablespoons at a time and beating for 2 minutes after each addition. That takes about 25 minutes of constant beating. In goes some lemon zest, then the flour is folded in and the batter goes into a springform pan lined with parchment paper, and into the oven.
The cake baked up as it should, except for that dense layer at the bottom. Any ideas? The cake went in the oven promptly, the temperature was right (or at least the cake baked in the expected time), there were no raps on the counter to collapse part of the batter...I just don't know what might have happened.
Tasting results: not so hot. The texture is very light and fluffy, but that doesn't appeal so much to me or my taste-testers. The almond flavor was very subtle and the lemon was not discernible, even though the peel had seemed potent enough. And there's a sugary coating on the top of the cake that covers your hands if you serve using the pinch method. I think I'll write this one off as an interesting experiment, not to be repeated.