Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two birthdays - Primavera cake and chocolate mud cake

It was a busy week for birthdays in our office last week - which meant there was a lot of baking, but not much blogging, at my end. We had two birthday boys to follow up Sue - there was Luke on Wednesday and Lee on Thursday. Because I am seconded two days a week, I made both cakes for Wednesday so that no-one misses out (and nor do I ;)).

The cake pictured at the top of this post is the Primavera - genoise filled with pastry cream, soaked with rum and topped with fruit, and finally glazed with apricot jam. I chose this cake for Lee because it is not only beautiful, but low fat (although apparently Lee has given up the dietary concerns). I was a little heavy-handed with the rum, so it was stronger than I expected (and blew poor non-drinking Valar away!), but was still a very nice cake.

It's a bit fussy to make, but visually is worth it. You could easily skip the alcohol with no ill effects (it may even improve the taste, depening on what your preference is). The recipe, from Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts, is as follows:


2 1/2 tabelspoons butter
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pastry cream

3 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons plain flour
4 teaspoons cornflour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup skim milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

To finish

6 tablespoons rum (or in my case, a little more)
2 cups berries or sliced soft fruits (eg kiwi fruit, mango)
1/2 cup strained apricot jam

To make the genoise:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 9 inch cake tin.

Melt the butter in a sacuepan and simmer until the sizzling subsides and the butter turns golden brown, and strain the mixture through a paper-towel lined strainer, and keep the mixture hot until needed. (For the record, I used olive oil spread instead of butter and I didn't strain it.)

Mix the sifted flour with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside.

In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites and 1/2 cup of sugar together, then place the bowl over a saucepan full of simmering water on the stovetop and heat until the mixture is lukewarm. Remove the warm eggs from the heat, then beat with an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture cools, lightens and triples in volume. While this is happening, reheat the melted butter to ensure it is hot and stir the vanilla extract through it.

Sift one third of the flour over the egg mixture, and fold it through with a rubber spatula. Next, fold through half the remaining flour, and then the remainder of the flour. Put one cup of batter into a large bowl into which the melted butter has been poured and fold it through, then fold the remainder of the batter into the mixture.

Scoop the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for abouit 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, then unmould it. The cake may be stored on the bench wrapped well for about a day, but be careful - I wrapped mine in cling film, and when I unwrapped it, half of the surface crust of the cake pulled away.

To make the pastry cream:

Mix the flour, sugar and cornflour together in a small bowl. Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat until the mixture is pale and thick.

Warm the milk until nearly but not quite boiling in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave, then pour it over the egg mixture, whisking constantly to ensure the eggs don't cook. Put the resulting misture in a saucepan and stir it over mnedium heat on the stovetop until it becomes a thick custard, whisk in the vanilla extract, then place the mixture into a clean bowl to cool, then cover and refrigerate until needed. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead.)

To assemble the cake:

Cut out a cardboard circle the same diameter as the cake, and place the cake on the cardboar circle. Using a saucepan lid, plate or other round object about 7 inches in diameter as a guide, cut a ring from the centre of the cake, leaving a 2 inch wide "donut" shaped outer cake.

Cut the small inner cake into 3 layers (I cut it into just 2, and it was fine for levelling purposes). If you have three layers, keep 2 only. Put one of those layers into the hole in the cake, and soak it and the inner sides of the cake ring with rum using a pastry brush.

Reserve one third of the pastry cream and set aside, then spread the rest over the well in the centre of the cake, including up the sides. (My pastry cream was way too thick to do this without wrecking the delicate cake, so I just spread it on the bottom.) Moisten the second cake layer with rum, and plac the moist side down on top of the pastry cream, and press down on it to level it out. Spread the remaining pastry cream over the top of the second layer, but do not spread it on the outer ring of cake. Moisten the top and sides of the cake with rum.

On serving day, arrange the fruit on top of the inner circle of cake where the pastry cream is spread so as to conceal the join, but leaving a visible outer ring of cake. Simmer the apricot jam then strain it to make a glaze, and brush it over the top and sides of the cake and the fruit. Refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours or until ready to serve.

For Luke, I made chocolate brandy mud cake:

I have made this cake before, and you can find the recipe

Ultimately, there was something for everyone, and I enjoyed both cakes (although taste-wise, I found the rum in the Primavera little over-powering!). Happy birthday guys!


The Blonde Duck said...

You've been busy! They both look delicious!

Ivy said...

Both cakes look scrumptious. I also made a chocolate cake today.
I have an Award for you to collect.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I come here, you're baking up a storm for someone! Well, I'll let ya know when my B-Day is near and you can bake something for me. But all I'll get to to is LICK the computer screen!
Again, lovely cake. All those who know you are so lucky.

Unknown said...

Chocolate mud cake usually is the second favorite to fruit cake chosen by my fellow cake decorators in the Franklin decorating club. I think because it's quite firm compared to sponge cake and that makes it easier to muck around hehehe...

Anonymous said...

Wow, the Primavera cake looks stunning and gorgeously luscious! I thought it was a cake you had bought from a shop! :o Great selection of cakes and you have some very lucky work colleagues!

Dee said...

Oddly enough for someone so obsessed with chocolate, I'm rawn to your primavera cake. I've never made a genoise cake before, and it's been on The List for way to long. Need to tick it off soon, and this just gave me reason. Thanks!

Your friends are super lucky!

The Caked Crusader said...

what wonderful happy colours! I love a good genoise sponge.