Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Strawberry and chocolate sponge cake

This cake might not feed 10 hungry people but it is one of the prettiest cakes I've ever made. The sponge is soft and the cream with tiny bits of chocolate compliments strawberries fabulously. I made this cake as a birthday present for a friend and I was told it was “too good” so it might be worth it to give it a try and find out just how good it really is for yourself.

You will need:

For the sponge (16 cm Ø tin):
For the sponge:
4 eggs, separated
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp ground dark cooking chocolate
1 tsp cocoa powder

For the filling:
150 ml whipping cream
150 g mascarpone
4 tbsp ground dark cooking chocolate
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
150 g strawberries

For the strawberry sauce:
50 g strawberries
1 tbsp vanilla (or regular) sugar
juice from ½ a lemon
1 tbsp water

For the chocolate icing and decoration:
approx. 50 g dark chocolate
50 ml whipping cream
4 strawberries (not too big)
about a tbsp melted white chocolate
Optional: additional strawberries to place in the middle of the cake

Make the sponge:

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks.

In a different bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla sugar for a few minutes until the mixture gets very very pale and fluffy.

Sift the flour, chocolate and cocoa powder together and mix them thoroughly. With a spatula fold the flour mixture and egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Do it very gently and very slowly, altering between the flour and egg whites and adding only a spoonful of each at a time. Don’t over mix.

Pour the batter into a spring form tin, lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 180°C for 20-25 min until the top is golden brown.

Once it’s done, cover the tin with a piece of aluminium foil and let it cool completely. The sponge will deflate during the process of cooling down so don’t be alarmed if the previously round and firm top becomes all wrinkly. It will still taste just as good.

Once it’s cooled, remove the tin. Cut the cake into three even layers and cut a hole in the middle with a small (7 cm Ø) cake ring.

Make the filling:

Whip the cream with some vanilla sugar, then add mascarpone and ground chocolate. Let it sit in the fridge while you prepare the strawberries.

Wash and dry the strawberries. Choose the prettiest ones – you are going to use them on top of the cake. Make sure they are of approximately the same size.

Cut the rest of the strawberries into smaller pieces.

Strawberry sauce:

For the sauce, put 50 grams of strawberries into a small saucepan along with lemon juice, about a tablespoon of vanilla sugar (you can also use regular sugar here) and a tablespoon of water. Let it simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes, then mix it with a stab mixer or in a food processor. Before you use the sauce, strain it to get rid of any solid bits.

Assemble the cake:

Now you can assemble the cake. Place the first layer of sponge on a cake base or a serving plate. Place a cake ring around it and a small cake ring (the one you used to cut out a hole), covered with parchment paper or foil in the middle.

Brush the sponge with strawberry sauce before covering it with a layer of cream and mascarpone filling and strawberries.

Cover it with the next layer of sponge and repeat. Let the cake rest in the fridge for at least an hour before you remove the cake ring.

Prepare the icing and decorate the cake:

Melt the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Cut the strawberries into halves, dip them in chocolate and place them on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.

Use the remaining chocolate to make the icing: add a splash of whipping cream and mix until you get a smooth and thick chocolate sauce. Let it cool slightly.

Remove both cake rings and ice the cake and top it with strawberries. For that final touch, drizzle the strawberries with a bit of melted white chocolate.

If you wish, you can also put strawberries in the middle of the cake, into the hole you cut out, like I did.