Hoping that "Strawberry & Cream Cake" is Catchy Enough for a Title...
We may have already covered this ground, but for the sake of blogging transparency let me reintroduce my little baking obsession. I do not necessarily enjoy eating the majority of sweet baked goods, but making them is a different thing entirely. Although I'll genuinely enjoy a savory dish more, there is nothing that can compare to the gorgeous array of incredibly beautiful decorations that are possible with desserts.
And, surprise surprise, I mostly have Pinterest to thank for that.
No surprise either that I have documented my sweet culinary experimentation very poorly thus far, so I will strive to do better in future. Because if a cake is baked and no one online was ever there to see it, did it really ever happen?
So here we have my first attempt to document a cake creation. Granted, its not a dessert that will go down in history as one of humanity's greatest accomplishments, but believe me, it was absolutely delicious.
As you may have guessed from the title, the cake in question was a strawberry and cream filled vanilla sponge cake. The recipe I chose for the sponge is one that is (of course) stupidly easy and simple to make. Literally three ingredients. Yes, THREE. And this cake rises flat, so it is perfect for layering.
So the three ingredients for this cake are as follows:
5 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
And here is the prep:
(oven needs to be at 175C / 350F)
Grease a baking pan, but DO NOT line the sides with paper, it can collapse the sides of the cake.
1. Beat the eggs with the sugar until they have tripled in volume. AKA just leave them in the mixer for about 10 minutes while you continue with your day ;)
2. Gently sift the flour and fold it in with a spatula until just combined.
3. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Once you've taken it out of the oven, let it cool slightly before removing it from the pan.
And now for the fun part!
Whilst the cake is cooling (or actually while its still cooking), you can prep whatever decorational shenanigans you have in mind. For this one, I wanted a layer of fresh strawberries and cream in the middle, so I sliced the strawberries and left them sitting with some sugar for a couple of hours. Sugar draws out some of the water from the strawberries, which makes a lovely syrup and keeps the cake moist. You can take this time to whip the cream and stick it in the fridge too. I add a few teaspoons of vanilla sugar right at the end when I make whipped cream.
See how the strawberries are looking all syrupy? That's just from leaving them with sugar for a while. In the background are some burger buns I was making, might try a post on those next time we make burgers.
Now, me being me, coupled with the fact that strawberries seemed a bit humble for the birthday feel we were going for, I decided to make caramel glass to decorate. I'd never tried it before. Safe to say after the fact that it is probably something that should not be tried without factoring in time for a failed first attempt. I'm not an entirely confidant or adventurous person, but for some reason whenever I am creating new things, the notion that practice is needed to make perfect never seems to sink in until after the first try.
Thankfully there are no pictures to document.
In my defense, the recipe left out some key cautionary advice, so I shall share it with you here. When making caramel glass (or sugar glass -- technically it never caramelized for me because I didn't have time by then...) basically all you are dong is cooking sugar and water. Just boiling it away. Seems pretty hard to mess up right? Well, what they don't tell you is that you should NOT stir the mixture.
I spent an entire 20 minutes faithfully stirring my sugar syrup, and suddenly it all turned back into sugar crystals. I swear it was like magic, I still have no idea how the science behind that works. So anyway, a quick google search later I found out that you should never stir the syrup once its boiling because apparently all those little drops that splash on the sides of the pan recrystallize and then somehow cause a chain reaction and crystallize your whole batch. Not fun.
So, after that dire failure, batch two was quickly thrown on the stove in the hopes that I would have time to actually use it. The sugar never actually got any darker than the palest hint of yellow because I had to get the process moving, but it didn't crystallize, so I'm definitely counting it as a win. Discovered while I was pouring it out that fun things can be accomplished by pulling the sugar while its still warm... but we'll have to experiment with that next time. I left the "caramel" drying on baking sheets for the duration of dinner. It cooled well enough, but the delightfully damp atmosphere that characterizes all architectural accomplishments in this country ensured that it started taking on some water and becoming slightly sticky by the time I came to use it. Oh well.
Please excuse the lighting, by the time this was ready it was about 10pm...
Breaking it was as easy as it sounds. It does break small though, so make sure you're careful not to end up without any pieces big enough to decorate with. Then just go ahead and stick it in your cake. Because jagged sugar blades is what we're all about these days.
For the top decoration, I first dusted it with a generous layer of icing sugar, and then plopped the rest of the cream in the middle. I had saved the prettiest, reddest strawberries for the top, so I arranged some halves and some whole in a random sort of pile around the center, and then stuck the sugar glass in random directions radiating out from the middle. Try and get some pointy ends, because those will stay put when you stick them into the sponge cake better than a flat side.
Caramel glass ingredients: 1 1/2 cups sugar to 3/4 cup water - boil away until its at the golden colour you want.
And remember, do not stir.
I totally forgot to say that my caramel glass came out all bubbly. Pretty when it cooled, but not quite intentional... Still haven't found a rem