Monday, February 28, 2011

Raspberry & White Chocolate Sponge

Well I haven’t gotten around to making the Caramel Cream Sponge yet. But I did have a chance to invent something new and special for a friend of mine who was celebrating a very special birthday. As her birthday guests snaffled the decorations off the side of her cake, I was reminded of my fifth birthday, where my friends did exactly the same thing.

A lot of people ask me how I learned to make cakes, and I think that birthday would probably be the first time I was exposed to the art of sugar craft. My mum and Aunty Liz spent many nights hand moulding delicate pink sugar roses to decorate my fifth birthday cake.

Back in those days a fondant decorated cake was normally white, but Mum decided mine would be pink. And usually the cake underneath was fruit cake, but Mum thought we could try chocolate and see how it worked out. I don’t remember if there was marzipan – there certainly wasn’t any chocolate ganache between the fondant and the cake.

The thing I remember was being sung happy birthday to, and no sooner had I blown out the candles, many little hands had reached out and grabbed a sugar flower off the top of the cake. Both my mum and Aunty Liz were mortified – you weren’t supposed to eat the flowers! You’re supposed to pick them off and store them in an air tight container until they rot!!!

These days matters are different – sugar craft has evolved to a whole new realm and people expect to be able to eat everything you put on a cake. Although there is a trend towards putting toys and other keepsakes on kids cupcakes.

I had dreamed of a blue cake with delicate cherry blossoms for Peisha’s cake. She wanted a dessert cake though, so this is what I made.

6 large eggs
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup self raising flour
½ cup plain flour
½ cup corn flour
900ml thickened cream
300g frozen raspberries
870g high quality white chocolate (I used Lindt)
300ml pure cream
8 dessert spoons caster sugar
3 handfuls whole raw almonds
350g white chocolate

Sponge Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius (160 fan faust).
2. Grease and line a 25cm baking tin – the sides must be perfectly straight. Make sure the baking paper sits 4cms above the top of the tin.
3. Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until they are thick and frothy.
4. Gradually add the caster sugar and continue mixing until the sugar has dissolved – about 10 minutes.
5. Using a three-way sieve, sift the flours together into the egg mix, one third at a time. Carefully fold each edition into the egg mix, ensuring there are no pockets of flour caught anywhere throughout. Do not over mix!
6. Pour the sponge mix into the cake tin and bake for 40minutes or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched.
7. When cooked allow to cool in tin for about 10 minutes, then gently turn out onto a wire rack and carefully peel away the baking paper. Be sure not to tear the cake!

Raspberry Cream
1. Pour the thickened cream into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed until the cream holds firm peaks. Be very careful you don’t over mix or the cream will appear grainy! Store in the fridge until required.
2. When the cake is ready for assembly, add the frozen raspberries to the whipped cream and stir to combine. Ensure none of the raspberries stick to each other to form clumps!

White Chocolate Ganache
1. Place the white chocolate pieces in the large bowl of an electric mixer. (If you’re like me you will have done a lot of washing up at this point to use the same bowl over and over).
2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and place over heat on stove. Gently bring to the boil. Make sure it boils properly but don’t let it burn.
3. Pour the boiling cream over the white chocolate, then turn the mixer on to it’s slowest speed. I use my Kitchenaid’s paddle fitting for this job – it seriously beats doing this task by hand and in my opinion, produces a better result.
4. Transfer the ganache into a glass bowl and set aside to set.

Toffee Shards
1. Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan faust).
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper, ensuring the paper is precisely cut to size so it doesn’t bend or buckle.
3. Sprinkle four dessert spoons of caster sugar evenly across the paper. Place in the oven and allow the sugar to melt. If your oven has a hotspot like mine does, rotate the tray to achieve an even colour. When the sugar is golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Be careful not to burn yourself! Melted sugar is extremely dangerous!
4. Repeat with the second amount of sugar. Break the cold toffee into two to three inch long shards and set aside.

Almond Bark
1. Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan faust).
Spread the almonds on baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for about 7 minutes – or until the almond are slightly darker on the outside.
2. Allow the almonds to cool, then chop into fine pieces. While you don’t want almond meal, you also cant’ have big chunks.
3. Place the white chocolate in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave for 70 seconds. Check frequently to ensure you don’t burn the chocolate – remember chocolate melted in a microwave will hold its form so stir it once you take it out to melt any pieces still in solid form.
4. Add the chopped roasted almonds.
5. Measure the girth of your sponge cake, then spread a piece of baking paper the same length on a flat surface. Mark off a band four inches high.
6. Carefully pour the chocolate almond mix the length of the band of paper. Carefully spread the mix the length and width of the band, being careful to ensure there are no gaps. Allow to set.
Note: I made this on a very hot day and the chocolate wouldn’t set unless I put it in the fridge. I cut the band the length of chopping boards, slid them underneath, then placed them in the fridge until they were set.

1. Carefully split the sponge into three even layers using a long bread cutting knife. Be confident – this is easier than you think!
2. Place the top layer of sponge top down on a flat board that will fit into the fridge. You can use your final presentation cake plate if you’re confident you can keep it clean.
3. Spread half of the raspberry cream over the sponge layer. At this point I added some bought raspberry sauce for additional effect. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.
4. Position the middle layer of sponge over the cream, then spread the rest of the raspberry cream over it. Add raspberry sauce if desired.
Position the final layer of sponge over the cream – this should be the section that was on the bottom of the baking tin, which will have a nice flat surface. Lightly place a light weight plastic chopping board on top of the cake and press to level. Don’t press too hard tough – you don’t want cream coming out the sides.
5. Carefully ladle half of the white chocolate ganache over the top of the sponge. Using a large spoon, gently smooth in circles until it reaches the sides of the cake and runs over. This will create a beautiful smooth shoulder of ganache.
6. Place the cake in the fridge to allow the ganache to set. Also allow the remaining ganache to set to spreading consistency – put it in the fridge if you need to.
7. Remove the almond bark from the fridge and break it into pieces about two and a half inches wide. Use a sharp knife to crack it on a flat surface if that’s easier. If the edges of the pieces are wonky don’t worry – that’s part of the effect.
8. Once the ganache has set on top of the cake, remove it from the fridge. Begin spreading small sections of the side with the remaining ganache, sticking a piece of almond bark to each section, slightly overlapping them as you go. Continue until all the sides are covered.
9. Pile the toffee shards roughly on top of the cake. And for the final touch, gently tie a gold organza ribbon around the cake, finishing with a large bow.

Phew!!! This is a monumental cake to make. If you give it a go, please do write me a message! I’m keen to hear how it turns out. Make sure you keep the cake in the fridge until you want to serve – it will melt into a puddle otherwise!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Caramel Cream Sponge Cake - Coming Soon

I've just come out of a meeting where I was day dreaming about a cake my dad used to buy when I was a slip of a girl. I'm going to call it Caramel Cream Sponge Cake. It was sold at a bakery a Greenhills Shopping Centre near Maitland, Newcastle. We didn't go to that shopping centre often. In fact, when I was a girl big shopping centres like Westfield or malls like Stockland weren't very common. I only remember going there a few times - one time being with my Aunty Liz when my little cousin stole a chocolate from the self select chocolate stand in Kmart. But that's a story for a different day.

Dad took us to Greenhills once or twice during the time when Mum was working on the chicken farm as an egg collector. It was an awful job, and he'd buy a cake to have ready for when Mum arrived home. He had a thing for coconut and caramel, so the caramel cream sponge was the obvious choice: a double sponge with caramel and whipped cream in the middle sandwiched together. Whipped cream was spread thinly around the sides, which were then rolled in toasted desicated coconut. More caramel was spread across the top, with some florets of whipped cream piped on the edges for final decoration. Man that cake was good!

So - I'm laying down a baking challenge for myself. I shall attempt to reinvent this cake this weekend and post the resulting recipe on this very blog with a photo of course! Here's hoping I can do my memory of caramel cream sponge cake justice!