Latte Machiatto with Amaretto
A latte macchiato with a dash of Amaretto goes perfectly with a slice of cake in the afternoon. It can also be served cold: Shake cooled, strong coffee with milk and Amaretto and pour over ice.
Set butter, eggs, and milk out to reach room temperature. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add milk, eggs, and butter. Mix until a loose, cohesive dough forms. Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl, then continue to mix for another couple of minutes. Scrape down bowl again and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set bowl aside to rest and let rise until not quite double in size, approx. 1 – 2 hours. Butter baking dish.
Meanwhile, make pastry cream: heat milk and vanilla bean pod in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it comes to a simmer. Set aside to let vanilla infuse for 30 min. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until pale and smooth. When milk is done steeping, scrape vanilla seeds into milk and discard the pod. Reheat milk gently, then slowly whisk it into egg mixture. Transfer mixture back to saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until it bubbles and thickens, whisking constantly. Turn heat down and let simmer for 1 – 2 min. more, then take it off the heat. If the cream is lumpy, pass it through a sieve. Transfer pastry cream to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of cream to prevent a film from forming. Refrigerate until completely cool.
Once dough has almost doubled in size, give it a gentle stir to deflate slightly, then transfer to baking dish and spread to cover the bottom evenly. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside to rise for approx. 30 – 45 min. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. When the cake is ready, bake it for approx. 25 min., or until it starts to turn golden brown on top and the center is just set.
While cake bakes, make topping. Heat butter, sugar, honey, cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for approx. 5 – 8 min., or until it thickens and darkens slightly. Stir in almonds and set aside to cool slightly.
Spoon topping evenly over cake and spread gently, making sure to cover corners and sides. Bake cake for another 15 min., or until top is a deep golden brown and edges start to bubble. Set cake aside to cool in pan for approx. 30 min. before running a knife along its sides to loosen and turning it out of pan. Let cool completely.
To finish filling, whip heavy cream just until stiff peaks start to form. Fold whipped cream into cooled pastry cream until combined.
Slice cooled cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Spread pastry cream filling evenly over bottom half of the cake.
Cover pastry cream with top half of cake. Cut into squares to serve.