Right, it’s about time I baked a recipe from the ‘Special Cakes’ section of the book. When I began this quest I said to myself that I wouldn’t leave the difficult looking recipes to the end and looking back through the recipes I’ve baked so far I started off quite well, baking a difficult one every so often. However, I think I soon started skipping over quite a few recipes, not because they were necessarily difficult looking, but the fact they looked so time-consuming and unless it’s at the weekend, I always feel I should be doing something else that’s more productive! Anyway, today I decided I had to bake one of these recipes. This recipe takes up two pages in the book, so I knew that I could be in the kitchen for quite some time…
The first part of the recipe was to make the Genoese sponge. The oven was put on at an 160°C and a 28cm (7″) shallow cake tin was greased and the base lined with parchment.
40g butter was gently melted in a saucepan and put to one side to cool. Into a mixing bowl I cracked 3 large eggs and to this added 75g caster sugar. This was whisked together at high-speed until the mixture was pale and mousse-like. A tip from Mary is that the mixture is thick enough when a trail is left when the whisk is lifted out of the mixture.
65g self-raising flour and a level tbsp cornflour were sieved into a separate bowl. Half of this mixture was gently folded into the egg mixture. Half of the melted butter was poured around the edge of the mixture and folded in. This was repeated with the remaining flour and butter. The mixture was poured into the tin and placed in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
I was surprised to see that the cake hadn’t risen as much as I thought it would – perhaps I didn’t whisk it enough or I folded the flour in too heavily – I thought I was being very gentle. The top of the cake sprang back when it was lightly pressed, so it was taken out of the oven and left in the tin or a few minutes before turning it out and removing the parchment. It was left to cool on a wire rack.
Whilst the cake was cooling, it was on with the next step the Creme au Beurre Moka – coffee butter cream in other words – but posh coffee butter cream! In a heavy based pan I measured out 40g caster sugar and added to this 2 tbsp water, this was heated very gently until the sugar had dissolved. It was then brought to the boil and boiled steadily for a couple of minutes. It’s ready when the syrup is still clear and forms a slim thread when pulled apart between two teaspoons. It was time to turn the page of the recipe and start on page two!
In yet another bowl went one egg yolk which was lightly stirred to break it up. The next step is the difficult one you have to pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream over the egg yolk whilst whisking it all the time. I decided to use my electric hand whisk, which was probably a mistake as it was very difficult pouring the syrup with one hand whilst whisking with the other – I kept putting the whisk in the way of the sugar syrup and as soon as it hit the whisk it solidified. I probably should have used a balloon whisk! Anyway I continued whisking the mixture until it was thick and cold. A tablespoon of coffee essence was stirred in.
The next stage was to cut the cold cake in half horizontally and sandwich it together with a very thin layer of coffee buttercream. It was indeed a thin layer as there seemed to be a very small amount of buttercream in the bowl, it was probably the amount I normally put into the middle of a cake and reading through the recipe the buttercream had to be used later to pipe over the top of the cakes. The edges of the cakes were then trimmed to neaten them up and the cake was neatly cut in half and then each half cut into four to give eight oblongs.
3 tablespoons apricot jam were warmed in the microwave and the tops and sides of each cake brushed with the hot jam.
It was then time to make the coffee icing. 50g butter, 3 tbsp milk and a level tsp instant coffee granules were measured into a pan and heated gently until the butter had melted. 225g sifted icing sugar was added and beaten until the mixture was smooth and glossy. The mixture had to be left to thicken slightly and then it was poured over each individual cake, smoothing the top and sides with a palette knife. I think I let my icing set a little too much as it appeared slightly too thick when I put it over the cakes. However, warming the knife by dipping it in a bowl of hot water (and then drying it) seemed to do the trick.
At last I was onto the final stage – the remaining coffee buttercream was put into a piping bag and fitted with a small star nozzle. To start with I was unsure as to whether or not I would have enough icing to cover each of the cakes, so I decided to pipe a straight line of stars along the middle of each cake. I had enough for all of them and still quite a bit remaining, so carried on piping stars over the rest of the cakes. I managed to cover six completely, two were left with just one row of piping on them.
At last, it was tasting time. The cakes were very moist and the icing very sweet and delicious. They weren’t quite as dainty as I think they could have been and looked slightly chunky to me, perhaps if I’d made 10 cakes rather than 8 then would have looked daintier. Will I bake them again, I don’t think so they were too time consuming, although I was impressed with the coffee icing it was rather good!