Monday, December 28, 2009

Anton's birthday cake

This is the cake I baked for my friend on his birthday last month. A layered cake with rich chocolate frosting, layers held together with a whole can of caramel. It's the cake I always wanted my mother to bake for me, but which she refused. My mother was never a great baker. I can say this without feeling like a bad son because it is the truth. She'll readily admit it. She rarely baked our cakes when I was very young, always leaving it up to the neighbor's maid who was a champion baker.

What my mother was great at though was decorating cakes. She had these picture books of party cakes, and when birthday time comes around we could pick whichever cake we wanted. A cake (or cakes) would be ordered from next door and the day before our birthday she would spend the entire day making frosting, cutting cake and decorating. Between my siblings and I we had an owl cake, a locomotive with carriages, a maypole with dancing girls cake, a sunflower, rugby field with players and many more. I should actually scan pictures of those sometime and share. Her cake decorating skills were incredible.

Still, my favorite that she refused to make. I never requested it for my birthday because it was not elaborate enough, perhaps I should have. I think she thought it sounded much too rich. Whenever she baked chocolate cake she always used strawberry or apricot jam between the two layers. Yuck! So when we decided to have a birthday dinner for Anton at our place this year I decided that he I would bake him this one for dessert.

I used Jamie Oliver's sponge cake recipes for the cake and Martha Stewart's Swiss meringue buttercream for the frosting and a can of caramel in the center, of course there was way too much frosting as usual. But we did not let any of it get to waist, Alexander did a great job of using all of it on the cake, adding almost an inch thick layer on top!

If I may say so myself, I think it was my most successful cake ever. It was the first cake I baked in our oven that did not fall, but was perfectly baked and stayed that way after I removed it from the oven. The frosting came out great, just the right texture and consistency, and of course the caramel made it as decadent as I wanted it to be. Everybody enjoyed a slice, the rest was sent home with guests. It was incredibly rich, not even I could do more than one slice, but it sure was great!

For the sponge cake you'll need:
450g unsalted butter, softened
450g selfraising flour
450g caster sugar
8 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the bottom and sides of two cake tins, dust with flour and shake out the excess flour. Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition to incorporate, finally add the flour and fold in. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden skewer come sout clean. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly then turn out onto a cooling rakc and allow to cool completely.

For the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream (makes about 4 cups):

4 large egg whites
1 and cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
225g melted best quality bittersweet chocolate, slightly cooled before mixing in

It helps to use a standing mixer for this, but you can do it without as well. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk on high speed until it holds stiff but not dry peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and slightly cooled, about 6 minutes. Swithc to the paddle attachement if you have one. Add the butter several tablespoons at a time with mixer on medium low spead. Beat well after each addition until smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate. Beat onlow spead to eliminate air bubbles and then stir with a spatula until smooth.

When your cakes are cooled and the frosting done, spread a whole can of caramel on top of one cake, pop the other one on top, lather in frosting and the let the decadence begin!


amesh said...

i want one puhlease!!! i mean, jamie oliver's plus martha stewart's recipes? boy oh boy.. :g

Jeanne said...

Yum! Funny - I remember having an owl cake as a child too - and a hedgehog!

arcadia said...

toe ek baie klein was het ek eenkeer gedroom ek drink tee by annelie van rooyen, en sy gee vir my 'n sny koek wat presies lyk soos joune. net voor ek die eerste hap kon vat, het ek wakker geword. ek was vyf, en die moer in.

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