Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grattis på födelsedagen, Angelica!

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Last Friday was Angelica's birthday. In my family, birthdays are the "go!" signal for some serious gluttony. True to this tradition, me and Angelica decided to make not one, but two cakes for her birthday.

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Since a student dorm room isn't the perfect place to host a birthday party with eight adults, an infant and a dog, we commandeered my parents' kitchen for the cooking. It sure was a change to work in a well-equipped kitchen for once.

Long-time readers and people who read the comments at FXCuisine will know that we do things old school here at Butter & Beans: we make our own sour milk products, we cure our own salmons, we make ice cream without machines, and we even whip egg whites by hand.

Well, not this time!

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Meet Kenwood Major, my mother's kitchen machine. This baby has been in my mom's service for 33 years, making it 10 years older than I am (and in better shape, too)! Affectionately known as "the hell machine", the loud grinding noise of old KM makes me think of cinnamon buns and other goodies from the kitchen.

As for the cakes, Angelica wanted something Pavlova-inspired and maybe with mangoes. I was all ears, but knowing that my sisters can be a bit... let's say "picky", we thought we'd play it safe and make a sponge cake with berries and cream, too.


Sponge cake

This sponge cake is a great basis for loads of simple cakes. It's not as elastic in texture as most "stand-alone" sponge cakes, which makes it perfect in cakes, and as an added bonus the cakes made with it taste even better the day after they're baked.

4 eggs
200 ml sugar
100 ml potato flour (cornstarch is probably fine too)
100 ml flour
2 tsp baking powder

Set oven to 175 °C (350 °F).

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Crack eggs into a bowl, then add sugar in a theatrical manner.

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Beat until light and white.

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Mix starch, flour and baking powder together. Sift them if you feel like it, but as you can see, we don't bother.

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Fold the dry mixture into the wet one, pour into a greased 26 cm (10 inch) pan, and bake for about 30 minutes.


Assembly

This is how we made the cake this time. Of course, you can substitute other jams and/or berries. Add sugar to berries as necessary.

1 sponge cake
200 ml homemade/high quality black currant jam
250 g bilberries or blueberries
250 g raspberries
250 g strawberries
300 ml heavy cream

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Whip the cream rather stiff, taking care not to make butter. Cut the sponge cake horizontally in three layers. Place the bottom layer on a large plate. Spread jam evenly, add another cake layer. Spread the bilberries over the cake layer, and place a small amount of the cream on top. Add the last cake layer, cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the cream. Decorate the top with the raspberries and strawberries.


Fruit topping

"Pickling" the fruit in sugar and lemon juice makes it release its own juices and you'll get fruit drenched in the most delicious syrup. And all with just a few minutes of work.

3 ripe peaches
1 mango
juice from half a lemon
50 ml sugar

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Halve and thinly slice the peaches.

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Halve mango, cut grooves lengthwise, then crosswise to make a grid pattern. "Turn it inside out", then cut the pieces loose.

Place the fruit in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar, mix well, and let sit for at least an hour.


Meringue/Dacquoise

Based on this recipe from Whisk: A Food Blog.

When baking this meringue, we thought the amount seemed way too generous for the puny 23 cm circle the recipe called for, so we spread it quite a bit larger. However, it deflated on us, turning into more of a dacquois, so in the end, we just cut it in half and stacked the pieces on top of another to give it the desired height. You have the chance to get it right from the start, so just do the 23 cm version.

6 large egg whites
1.5 tsp potato flour or cornstarch
1 tsp vinegar
seeds from half a vanilla pod or 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 ml salt
350 ml sugar
175 g hazelnuts
60 ml boiling water

Heat oven to 175 °C (350 °F). Spread the hazelnuts on an oven tray and brown them for 10-15 minutes in the oven, giving them a shake or two during this time. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then grind them in a food processor or other suitable apparatus.

Get a squeaky clean bowl, preferably stainless steel. Crack the eggs one by one over a cup, and separate the yolk from the white with your hands. After each successfully separated egg, pour the white from the cup into the bowl. If a yolk ever breaks, discard that egg, get a new cup and try again. It is absolutely imperative that there is no trace of egg yolk in the whites--it won't rise!

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Add starch, vinegar, vanilla and salt to the egg whites and beat them until they form soft tops. Gradually add the sugar while beating, until stiff tops form. Get the boiling water and add it in small batches, to avoid curdling the eggs. The meringue should now be beautifully glossy.

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Add the ground nuts, and fold them into the meringue. Place a baking sheet on an oven tray, and spread the mixture in a 23 cm (9 inch) large circle on the baking sheet (it will be very thick). Place in the still hot oven, and bake for 10 minutes at 175 °C, then lower heat to 100 °C (200 °F), and bake for 75-90 minutes.


Assembly

1 meringue
300 ml heavy cream
1 peach/mango mix
mint leaves

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Whip the cream and spread over the meringue, top with the fruit and decorate with mint leaves.

1 comment:

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Thanks for using my recipe for such a celebration!