A cake for JiTNEY

August Wilson’s play “Jitney” is set in 1970s Pittsburgh, so when we were asked to provide cakes for a meet-the-cast event after its performance, we thought we’d bring a bit of Pittsburgh to Worthing with a classic cake from the ‘Burgh… burnt almond torte:

For the cake:

  • 290g self-raising flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 185g unsalted butter 
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 additional large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml buttermilk

For the creme patissiere:

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 additional large egg yolks
  • 30g cornflour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 28g unsalted butter

For the frosting and topping:

  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 170g icing sugar
  • 105g condensed milk
  • 80ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 280g sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 200g granulated sugar

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180oC (160oC fan).  Grease and line two 9″ round cake-tins.  Place the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl and mix well.  In a separate bowl, cream the sugar and butter with an electric whisk, then mix in the eggs (including the yolks) and the vanilla extract.  To this, add half the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed, then add the buttermilk, mix again and finally add the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing at a low speed.  Divide the cake batter between the two tins and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked through (check with a skewer).  Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, before turning out onto racks to cool fully.

For the creme patissiere, place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and mix thoroughly before heating on medium heat, bringing just to the boil – a simmer. stirring occasionally.  While this mixture is cooking, add the eggs, egg yolk and cornflour to a bowl and mix well.  In a steady stream, add the heated milk over this mixture, stirring all the time.  Once fully combined, add the mixture back to the pan and heat gently, stirring constantly.  Cook for a full minute once it’s simmering, making sure the eggs do not scramble.

After this, strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and add the butter and vanilla.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm, ensuring the film is in contact with the custard, to prevent a skin forming.  Cool, then chill until required.

For the frosting, add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well… starting at a low speed and then crank up the speed to beat it all together so that it’s light and fluffy. Set aside ready for assembly. For the final element – the “burnt” almonds – place the flaked almonds into a bowl and toss with the water, so that all the nuts are well-coated. Then, do the same with the sugar and spread the sugared almonds on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake at 180oC for around 15 minutes, stirring after the first 5 minutes.

To assemble the torte, place one layer of cake on a board, then spread the creme patissiere on top and add the second cake layer. Spread the cake generously with the frosting and then finish with the toasted almonds… do this by placing a cupped hand of almonds and then pressing them gently onto the frosting until the cake is covered. All done… so dig in!

This is the original cake from Prantl’s Bakery, Pittsburgh, PA that our cake is based on!