Happy 2014! Instead of having a dinner to greet the new year, my family had a celebratory dinner to welcome the new year on the day~, in addition to helping my brother celebrate his birthday (which is in February) a little earlier because he’ll won’t be in the state come the actual day 😦
I ate so much food last night that I wanted to go to my room and take a nap before it was time for dessert. But then I thought it probably would have been rather embarrassing for my family should our guests find me sleeping as heavily as a hibernating bear in winter when I should be playing host. So in an attempt to be “present”, I sat on the couch swaying slightly as my brain dimly registered that “Adventure Time” was on TV. At least my eyes were open even if my soul was elsewhere, right?
Although I helped make a few other dishes served last night, I thought to share with you the cake my sister and I made for my brother’s birthday.
..and mumsy got some Moët for the occasion! : )
I have to confess that I didn’t actually make the cake. I only assembled/decorated it. I also went around in a rather stroppy mood for the whole day because mum refused to let me take the cake out of the fridge so then I could take pictures in natural light. No one at home really has much patience or understands why I want to take pictures of food I’ve been apart of making without wanting people in the picture, even if I tell them about what I’m taking them for. So usually the minutes in between when everyone is preoccupied are the most important minutes for me. All the ‘noise’ and lighting is not ideal, but it is better than nothing, hay?
As I didn’t make the cake meself I can’t tell you about the finer details of how the cake came to be, but if you’ve got any questions, I still should be able to help you out (I will definitely try to!) I do know that a few of the ingredients listed in the original recipe by Kristin (from A Pastry Affair) I didn’t have at home (e.g. I replaced Kahlua with Marsala) so I did minimal alterations to the recipe to tell you what went into the cake I ate, but nothing major was changed.
I can’t get cake flour here, but it is easy enough to make, as long as you have cornflour and all purpose/plain flour. I like to follow Joy from Joy the Baker’s instructions as to how to go about making some.
Mum made the gingerbread boy sign! He’s a cutie pie. It kind of looks like he’s a gingerbread shaped scarecrow standing in a enclosed field of chocolate hay and strawberries…!!
It’s not perfect like the cakes you can buy from cake stores, but oh well. (Perhaps one day when I get around to learning how to use Photoshop…?) The cake tasted really lovely. If I make this again though, I’d definitely use dark chocolate instead of milk. We opted for milk chocolate within the layers and top because dad doesn’t like dark chocolate that much (BUT DARK CHOCOLATE MMMMMM).
So…that’s all from me! I hope all of you have had a wonderful start to the new 2014 year and may all excellent things keep coming your way for all the years to come.
Recipe adapted from Kristin Rosenau’s A Pastry Affair recipe
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease or line two 8 or 9-inch baking pans.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the cream.
Divide batter evenly between baking pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when touched. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
2 tablespoons instant expresso/coffee
2 tablespoons hot water
In a small bowl, whisk together coffee powder and hot water. Set aside.
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Marsala (optional)
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in marsala and 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract. Set aside.
Filling and frosting
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon marsala (optional)
4-5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate shavings
Cocoa powder, for dusting
20-30 ladyfingers/savoiardi, for garnish (homemade and store-bought work equally well)
In a large bowl, whip heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.
In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and marsala. Whisk in the remaining espresso extract (about 1-2 tablespoons). Be careful not to over whip your mixture! Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
If the top of the cakes are uneven, use a long serrated knife to trim off the top of the cakes to make them level. Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush, soak the top of the cake in 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Spread the top with 1/3 of the mascarpone frosting. Sprinkle a layer of shaved semi-sweet chocolate.
While the second cake layer is resting on the counter, soak the top with another 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Carefully flip the cake upside down and place the cake on top of the other, soaked side down. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining espresso syrup. Alternatively, you can use a pastry brush and apply the syrup onto the surface of the cake. Spread the remaining mascarpone frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder to your liking. Press ladyfingers onto the mascarpone frosting on the outside of the cake, spacing them evenly apart. Secure ladyfingers with a ribbon lightly tied around the cake. Sprinkle remaining chocolate shavings over the top of the cake. Or decorate however you want! It’s your cake!