Saturday, 29 December 2012

Showstopper cake

I went for a run one cold December evening. This was weeks ago, back when I was still exercising and not eating my weight in cake and pizza every evening. In other words, it was BC - before Christmas. Anyway, during this run, I dreamt of a cake... It would be big, bold and seasonally festive. It would be a showstopper. I even made a sketch of it when I got home. My vision had layers of the softest vanilla sponge interspaced with layers of red velvet cake, lashings of jam and a creamy créme patissiere filling. Possibly swiss meringue frosting to cover it all.



The weeks went by and this vision remained a vision as life got in the way. I finally got round to making the cake on Christmas Eve... Which is probably the WORST possible time to make it. It took me a couple of days to finish it but in the end it stayed pretty true to my vision...

Showstopper cake

For the red velvet cake
(quantities adapted from Hummingbird bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes)

120g unsalted butter at room temperature
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
40g cocoa powder
1 tbsp red paste food colouring (more if needed)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2-3 tsp white vinegar


For the softest vanilla sponge
(recipe from Cooks Illustrated)
220gr plain flour 30gr cornflour / 2 1/4 cups cake flour
240 ml/ 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
395gr/ 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp table salt
170gr (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature cut into small cubes

Vanilla syrup
50gr caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla paste
50ml water

For the filling

Créme Diplomat
125 g sugar 
5 egg yolks 
25 g flour 
25 g cornstarch (cornflour) 
500 ml milk 
1 tbsp vanilla paste
 –––––––
1 carton (300ml) whipping cream
70gr icing sugar (or to taste)
1 tbsp brandy (optional)

You will also need 1 Jar redcurrant or cranberry jam well mixed

To frost - Chantilly cream
1 carton (300ml) double cream
70gr icing sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp brandy (optional) 

NOTE: I used 20cm/8inch cake tins for this and the recipes yield 3 vanilla sponges and 3 red velvet cakes. I only used four layers in the finished cake so if you want you can bake this in 23cm/9inch tins and have four final layers. Grease and line the tins or use bake release spray.

To make the Red Velvet Cakes preheat oven to 180 C /350 F. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine the buttermilk with the vanilla extract, white vinegar and red food colouring paste. I used Sugarflair Spectral Concentrated Paste Colour in (appropriately!) Christmas Red which is a very bright deep red. Make sure the paste is completely disolved in the buttermilk.

Beat butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well till everything is combined. Add a third of the flour mix and combine. Add half the buttermild and beat to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk ending with flour. Mix briefly and then take a metal spoon and stir the batter to make sure it well combined and an even colour. Do not overmix. Pour into three (or two see note above) tins, level and bake for 25-30mins. Cool before using.

To make the softest ever vanilla sponge cakes preheat oven to 180 C /350 F.  Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into a measuring cup and whisk briefly to combine.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer and mix at very low speed to combine the ingredients. Add the butter and beat a low speed until mix resembles coarse sand. Add 1/3 of the milk/egg liquid and beat to combine for about a minute. Repeat with remaning liquid but do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans and level. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake. Cake will be coming away from sides of cake tin and be firm on top when ready. Cool.

Make the vanilla syrup by  gently heating the water with the sugar and vanilla in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Brush over cakes.

To make the Créme Patissiere whisk the egg yolks and sugar till pale and then add the flour and cornflour and mix to combine.  Bring milk and vanilla paste to the boil in a large pan. Pour over the egg yolk mix and whisk on low speed to combine. Pour back into the pan and whisk continuously over low heat until mix thickens. Add a knob of butter, cover with clingfilm and cool.

Whisk the whipping cream (cold) and icing sugar until you get soft peaks and then add to the créme patissiere to loosen and lighten it. The combination of Créme Patissiere and whipped cream is called (voila!) Créme diplomat. Do not loosen too much or your cake will collapse (learn from my mistakes!).

To frost cake whisk the double cream and icing sugar as above for Chantilly cream. Add a bit of brandy if you like.

To put the cake together place a layer of sponge cake on your cake stand or platter. Spread with softened cranberry or redcurrant jam. Spread a layer of cream and repeat with a layer or red velvet, filling, another layer of vanilla sponge, filling and finally a layer of red velvet cake. Frost entire cake with Chantilly cream. Put in fridge to set but eat on day of frosting as the cream will not keep. (Alternatively frost with American buttercream or Swiss buttercream).

I used my spare layer of red velvet cake as decoration - whizzed in a food processor to a fine crumb.










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1 comment:

  1. wow this is a definite showstopper cake! I wish I could have a slice now. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

    ReplyDelete