Christmas is a time of year when those of us who love to cook (and eat) have the chance to show off a bit and create wonderfully indulgent and delicious dishes. It is also, unfortunately, a time of year when no-one really has an hour […]
If a party without cake is just a meeting then serving up this really would make it a celebration!
I’ve made this cake a couple of times now and it’s always very well received, it looks impressive before you’ve even cut into it. It’s got three layers of deliciously light almond or vanilla flavoured sponge (your choice, both are yummy) sandwiched together with fruity raspberry jam and silky Swiss Meringue buttercream, covered in more raspberry buttercream, smothered in rich chocolate ganache and finished off with some chocolate dipped strawberries – you know, just for good measure. Because if you’re going to do cake you should really DO cake.
320g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract (your choice)
swiss meringue buttercream
4 egg whites
4 tbsp seedless raspberry jam (plus extra for filling)
100g double cream
100g dark chocolate
Start the sponge by pre-heating your oven to 190°c and greasing and lining three standard size cake tins (I think mine are about 8-9″).
Sift together the flour and baking powder then whisk this with the salt and sugar ensuring that they are well mixed. Beat the dry ingredients with the softened butter until you have something that looks a bit like damp sand.
In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or almond extract and milk and then add half of this to the dry mixture and beat it together well, ensuring that there are no lumps. Add the remaining liquid and beat again to combine it all and leave you with a fairly runny batter. Divide this evenly between the three prepared cake tins, level off the surfaces by giving the tins a little shake and pop them in the oven, all on the same shelf if your oven is big enough.
Bake the sponges for around 20 minutes, so that they are risen and golden brown, and if you poke them with a skewer or cake tester it comes out clean. Carefully turn the sponges out onto a wire rack and leave them to cool.
To make the Swiss meringue buttercream put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, be careful not to let the water touch the base of the bowl. Add the sugar and use a hand whisk to whip them continuously whilst they heat up. They should become quite foamy and increase in volume. When they are ready to come off the heat, they will feel hot to the touch and the sugar should be totally dissolved.
Take the bowl off the pan of water and use an electric whisk to whip the meringue until it is thick and glossy. If by this stage the base of the bowl has cooled down to room temperature(ish) then you can start to whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time. If the bowl is still warm then the butter will melt so it’s worth waiting until it’s cooled down. Continue to whip the buttercream until you have incorporated all of the butter and it is thick, smooth and creamy. Add the four tablespoons of jam and whisk again until it is well blended with the buttercream.
To assemble the cake decide which of your three sponges has the neatest, flattest bottom so that one can be the top. Put one of the other sponges onto a cake board or serving plate and spread a tablespoon or two of jam on it. Follow this with a layer of the buttercream, not too thick but spreading it right up to the edges of the cake. Pop a second sponge on top and repeat the layers of jam and buttercream again. Add the final sponge and then cover the whole cake with a very thin coat of the buttercream, just to seal in all the crumbs. Put the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes so that everything can firm up a bit. Use the rest of the buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake with a thicker coating, making it as smooth as possible. Put the cake back in the fridge, this time for at least an hour so that it will be nice and cool when you add the chocolate ganache (this gives the best ‘drip’ effect).
Whilst the cake chills you can decorate the strawberries by simply dipping them in melted white chocolate and then into some sprinkles. Leave them on a sheet of baking parchment to set.
Make the ganache by chopping the chocolate into chunks and placing it in a bowl. Heat the cream so that it is quite warm but not boiling. Pour this over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute before stirring until it’s all well blended. Set aside to cool and thicken to a dripping consistency.
Get the chilled cake out of the oven and spoon the ganache in a ring around the top of it, encouraging a few drips to fall down the sides here and there. Carefully add a bit more ganache to the top to fill in the centre and smooth it off with a palate knife if you need too. Add the strawberries and a scattering of extra sprinkles. Return the cake to the fridge until you’re ready to serve it
My oh my! What a pud this is! You can keep your fancy tubs of ice cream, I’ll have this please. Home made ice cream always tastes so much more wonderful than anything you buy, no matter how much money you spend on it and this is no exception.
The custard ice cream is so rich and creamy and full of vanilla and the blackberries are rich and jammy. There’s also a little bit of crunch from the crisp nuggets of meringue hiding inside. If you feel like spoiling someone (or just yourself) make them this.
Obviously you can use bought meringues in this if you’re short on time but because I never waste anything if I can help it, I use the spare egg white to make mine. You just need 50g of sugar per white, here are some recipes to help.
300ml double cream
150ml whole milk
1 egg yolk
1 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp sugar
3-4 meringue nests or meringue made from the extra egg white
Kick things off by making the base for the ice cream. Put 150ml of the cream in a saucepan along with the milk and gently warm them. Don’t let them get too hot.
Place the egg and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the sugar, cornflour and vanilla paste. Whisk this until it is very thick, pale and fluffy.
Whilst still whisking this add the warm milk/cream in a slow, steady stream. Make sure that you keep it all moving to prevent it from curdling. Rinse out the pan and then put the custard mixture back into it and set it over a low heat. Stir the custard continuously until has become quite smooth and thick and then leave it to cool.
Make the blackberry swirl by mixing together the fruit and the sugar in a small pan. Put it over a low heat to warm so that the fruit releases its juices. Crush the berries with a fork and let it bubble for a few minutes so that it thickens slightly. Push the fruit through a sieve over a small bowl to leave you with a thin puree. Let this cool.
By now the custard should have cooled down too. Softly whip the remaining cream in a large bowl and then combine this with the custard. Put this into an ice cream maker and churn it until it has the texture of soft serve ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker then put it in the freezer and beat it every so often to break up the ice crystals. Don’t let it freeze too firmly though.
To assemble the terrine line a loaf tin (or something similar) with cling film and pour in half of the ice cream. Spread this around and then drizzle over half of the blackberry puree. Marble the two together. Break up the meringue and spread this over the ice cream and top it with the rest of the ice cream. Marble through the last of the blackberry puree too. Cover the top of the terrine with several layers of cling film and then put it in the freezer for several hours to firm up.
To serve the terrine simply peel the clingfilm from the top and then invert the tin onto a plate. The tin should easily slide off and then you can peel away the remaining clingfilm before decorating with a few extra blackberries and some mint leaves.
BIRTHDAY! Birthday, birthday, birthday! Hurrah for me! I’m probably at the age where I should be dreading birthdays and worrying about entering a different age bracket on surveys, but the thing is…I REALLY like cake.
Is it weird to get excited about making your own birthday cake? Maybe it’s because a lot of the other things that I make end up being eaten by other people (I’m definitely a feeder!) and birthday cake is something that I can totally justify tucking into myself.
Don’t worry if you aren’t the worlds biggest fan of coconut, the flavour in this is very mild. In fact if you do want to boost it a bit you might want to consider adding a few drops of coconut extract. I’ve primarily used the coconut milk for moistness and texture in the sponge. It’s really good.
The frosting’s super yummy too, really rich and creamy without being too sweet, it really shows off the delicate citrus flavours.
pinch of salt
200g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 eggs, seperated
150ml coconut milk
3 egg whites
200g butter (room temperature, cut into small cubes)
zest of 2 limes and 2 soft citrus (I used minneolas but tangerines are also good)
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease and line a pair of sandwich cake tins.
Cream together the butter and 100g of the sugar. Beat the egg yolks into this. Sift together the flour and baking powder and then mix this in too. Beat in the coconut milk.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with the salt until they are nice and stiff. Sprinkle in the remaining 75g of sugar and whisk again until you have a glossy meringue. Mix a large spoonful of the this into the cake batter to lighten it and then gently fold in the remaining meringue.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake tins and bake the sponges for 30 minutes, or until they are golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave them to cool in the tins.
To make the Swiss meringue buttercream you need to start with a mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water. Put the egg white and sugar in the bowl and gently whisk it to keep it moving whilst it heats up. It needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Once you’ve reached this stage you can take the bowl off the pan and whisk the egg white until it is stiff (like meringue) and cool. An electric mixer is best here.
Once it is very cool you can beat in the butter, a little piece at a time. If the mixture is too warm then the butter will simply melt so make sure it’s cool before you start. If you need to you can pop it in the fridge for a few minutes. Continue to beat the buttercream until it has become lovely and smooth and creamy, it’s quite forgiving as long as it doesn’t get too warm. Finally mix in the zest.
Spread one third of the buttercream onto whichever sponge you want to use as the base and then place the other sponge on top. Spread the remaining buttercream on the top and down the side of the cakes, to completely cover it. Let the cake sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before you serve it so that the buttercream can firm up a little.
This is a Christmassy version of the summer classic, lemon meringue pie. I made it for my Thanksgiving dessert this year, I always try to find lighter alternatives to the traditional heavy festive puddings that tend to be served after an already rich and heavy […]