I made a ‘big’ cake and iced it! It was a first. I even had to buy a palette knife for the occasion. You see, I love cake, but generally, I am the kind of girl who licks the spoon as the cake goes in the oven and burns her tongue on the first slice of cake that before it has cooled down. I sometimes have fun with the little ones and we recently made the ugliest cake you will see on Pinterest, but this little beauty was a first.
My friend Loraine was coming for the day with her little ones yesterday, and I wanted to make a cake that would be special. I see Loraine regularly, but today, I wanted to thank her for always being there, for believing in me, for being the one who made me start my little blog. Literally.
When she first mentioned it, I laughed. The second time I said I had no time for a blog. The third time, I started looking at what blogs were, and when she mentioned it for the fourth time, I made up my mind: I would do this. I would start a blog! It took me about six months between the time I decided to go ahead and my first post. I overthink everything and that usually prevents me from just throwing myself into new projects.
Writing this blog has been cathartic. It has made me focus on the little things in life. It has given me an incentive to improve my photography and try new recipes, but first and foremost, it has made me feel part of a big, friendly community.
I am not saying it has been easy. It can be frustrating when you feel like no one other than yourself is reading your ramblings, but overall, it has been brilliant. I have made quite a few friends along the way, been short listed for an award and I have started to notice that some people keep coming back. Thank you. Thank you to every single one of you. I really, really appreciate your support.
Enough of the outpouring of sentimentality; cake is calling! I was approached by Baking Mad last week, asking me whether I wanted to try one of the recipes on their website. I immediately chose their Nielsen-Massey vanilla, raspberry and white chocolate layered sponge cake, a beautifully revisited Victoria sponge cake recipe. The recipe I am sharing today is my own version, but it is highly inspired by the one I started with.
I received a beautiful hamper full of Nielsen-Massey goodies, Billington’s sugar and recipes. I always go with Nielsen-Massey for vanilla, so I was pleased to be sent a range of products I use on a regular basis. As for the jam, if it is not homemade, it has to be Bonne Maman! I buy Callebaut chocolate callets in bulk online as it is really good quality for baking and so much cheaper than buying 100g at a time. It also keeps really well for months in a sealed container. I know raspberries are not in season at the moment, so although it is very naughty, I could not help getting some.
Jumpy (2 years 5 months) has been keen on cooking with me recently. She likes pouring, stirring, getting utensils for me and watching me. She knows she is not allowed to touch all the ingredients, but she enjoyed pouring the vanilla paste into the bowl, with a big “Yuck, ‘gusting!” She then left before I separated the eggs and opened a bag of flour.
Beanie (4 years 6 months) took over a few minutes later and stirred the flour into the mixture I had just whisked. All she was really interested in was licking the spoon. Eventually, she tasted the dough and tried to guess what was in it: “I flink there is egg, butter, sugar… Is there, Maman?”
What do you think? Not bad, huh?
Now you will have to excuse my enthusiasm, but when you make a pretty cake for the first time, you take lots of photos. Well, I did. I really struggled to choose between the 385 I had, but I quite like this ‘moody’ shot.
What about this one, with a few food props in the background?
… and another angle.
Just one more!
It is perfect with a cup of tea and lots of raspberries!
White Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry Layer Cake
- 250 ml full fat milk 1 cup
- 250 g unsalted butter 1 cup, diced
- 300 g white chocolate 2 cups, chopped
- 4 large free-range eggs at room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 300 g golden caster sugar 1 1/2 cups
- 450 g plain flour 3 cups
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 180 g good-quality raspberry jam about half a jam jar
For the white chocolate ganache (icing)
- 500 g ‘best you can buy’ white chocolate 3 cups, chopped finely
- 165 ml full fat single cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 punnet fresh raspberries
- white chocolate shavings
- 80 g pistachio kernels 1/2 cup
Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 (180 degrees Celsius, 350 degrees Fahrenheit).
Grease lightly two 20cm (8 inches) round cake tins. Line their bases with baking paper.
Melt the milk, butter and chocolate on a medium heat, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely at room temperature.
In the meantime, separate the eggs.
In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until soft peaks start to form and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla paste and sugar. Mix in the chocolate mixture first, then the flour and baking powder. Finally fold in the egg whites.
Divide the mixture between the two tins and place in the oven for 45 to 55 minutes. The cakes should look golden and springy to the touch and the blade of a knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and turn onto a wire rack.
As the cakes are baking, make the icing. In a small pan, warm the cream and vanilla paste to just under simmering point. Be careful not to boil the cream otherwise it will split.
Pour the cream over the finely chopped white chocolate. Leave for 20 seconds then stir to combine, starting in the middle and going towards the sides.
Leave uncovered to cool at room temperature before covering with cling film and placing in the fridge. It will need approximately 90 minutes to reach the perfect spreading consistency. If you can, stir every twenty minutes.
Before you assemble the cake, it is a good idea to roast the pistachio kernels under the grill for a couple of minutes, to bring out a more intense flavour. Check constantly as nuts burn easily. Once cooled, place the pistachios in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin.
You will need a third of the white chocolate ganache and the jam now.
Trim the cakes to level and slice each in half horizontally. Place one half on a cake stand and spread on a third of the ganache filling, then a couple of tablespoons of jam. Repeat until you have used all sponge halves.
Using a palette knife, spread the rest of the ganache as evenly as possible over the top and the sides of the cake.
Decorate the cake with raspberries, white chocolate shavings (simply use a potato peeler on a bar of white chocolate to make them) and chopped pistachios on the sides.
Disclosure: I was sent the hamper pictured above for the purpose of this post. No payment was received. All opinions and photographs are my own.