I like flamboyant cakes..with icing, fondant et al. I am currently dwelling on my love for Chantilly cream, as you can see from my last profiterole post, such decadent cream is enough excuse to make and bake, for as long as I can savour the Chantilly cream. Again and again.
We had no celebrations called for flamboyant cakes. Well, not at least until couple of weeks time (!), so maybe I should call this my 'rehearsal' cake, just to practice a bit of piping, a bit of decorating. Baking is sometimes just a reason to rejoice in itself. Or rejoicing in memories of childhood and those days of being my Mama's sous chef. I have seen her baked this genoise for as long as I can remember, famously for our tea time, and this recipe has also been made into my mother's ever varied, fanciful roulade creations. When I rejoiced in the pleasure of another successful Victoria sponge, she insists that nothing beats this recipe for a perfect sponge cake. I agree, this cake is as delicious on its own, and definitely a hit with surprised berries as the filling.
One time, I baked a mini version of this cake, and asked The Husband to come home for a 'surprise'. Although he was slightly disappointed that we were on a different planet for the 'surprise' that he had in mind, he stuffed the whole cake (albeit small version!) in less than 5 minutes!! Cream and all, with probably a forkful piece left for me, thanks a bunch. This time, I made a bigger version, with a teeny weeny portion for my lil sous-chef who insisted to be carried by Mommy to the local shop for my double cream 'grocery shopping'.
The tip for a beautifully risen genoise lies in the freshness of the eggs; beat the eggs until pale and really fluffy in order to get a risen sponge.
A few tips from my mom, The Baker, that I have mastered over the years of genoise baking:
- Always use a metal bowl for whisking, and metal spoon for folding the flour and butter in the batter. This apparently helps 'trap the air bubbles' to create a sponge that does not turn flat!
- When you fold the flour, never mind if the mixture is not well mixed. Underfolding is better than overfolding.
- Make sure the melted butter is ever so slightly warm prior to folding it into the batter
- And, don't let the hassle of bain-marie put you off from the best sponge about to be created in your kitchen!
So let's bake whilst summer is still fruitful with the berries...
Vanilla Genoise Cake with Strawberry Surprise
makes 2 x 8 inch sandwich pans
4 large eggs
160g plain flour-sifted
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp melted butter
300ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
(Whip all above ingredients on high speed until soft peaks are formed)
200g strawberries-hulled and halved
Preheat oven at 170C.
Prepare the bain-marie (water bath) on the hob until water is hot ( not boiling), and turn off the heat. add the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and place the bowl over the hot water bath. Using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, ribbony and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and beat again for few more minutes.
Add in the flour and quickly fold over the flour using a metal spoon. Do not overdo the folding. Drizzle in the melted butter, fold over few more times. Divide the batter equally into 2 sandwich pans and bake for 20 minutes at 170C.
Once the cake is almost golden colour, remove from the oven and DO NOT insert the skewer as this might deflate the sponge. Cool the cakes from the tin immediately onto the wire rack.
Et voila! You just bake a beautiful genoise..
Now comes the exciting part. As genoise can be dry, the best way to moisten it is with fruits, syrup, or cream. Lots and lots of cream.
Spread the Chantilly cream on the cake and arrange the strawberries on top. Then sandwich the other cake on top.
Now get your piping bags into action, and let's create something magical. Roses, lace borders, add a bit of red tinge, or even some cocoa in the cream for a bit of chocolatey flavour..the choice is yours.
Time to enjoy the cake!