Monday, June 30, 2014
Birthday Cake (Japanese-style Strawberry Ombre Shortcake)
It’s my birthday today. If you know me, you probably know how I feel about birthdays. If not, the candles will give you a clue.
I baked myself a birthday cake. Like I did the last couple of years. And just like every year, I made a strawberry cake because it's my favourite. This year, it's a Japanese-style strawberry shortcake (the best one yet).
It’s a simple cake of chiffon-like sponge layers that are so light and soft and melts away in your mouth like candy floss, and mascarpone cream that is light-as-cloud with specks of vanilla seeds. Of course, it can’t be strawberry cake without fresh strawberries. And homemade strawberry jam added too for good measure. To make this extra special, because it’s my birthday cake afterall, I made the sponge layers in different shade of pink.
I have done several variation of strawberry cakes on this blog; the Japanese-style strawberry shortcake (version 1), the strawberry and cream genoise cake, and the strawberry cloud cake. All delicious and different in their own way. However this one, I dare say, is the best one yet. (Did I say that already?)
Japanese-style Strawberry Ombre Shortcake
Makes one 12cm diameter cake
Note: Recipe for the sponge cake makes only 1 number of 28cm x 28cm square sponge layer. Repeat 2 more times to achieve a 3 layer cake. I find that it’s easier to bake each layer separately. To get a neater finish, I bake the cake in a 28cm x 28cm square cake tin, and then cut rounds with a cookie cutter. The biggest cookie cutter that I have around the house is a 12cm diameter round cutter, hence a 12cm cake. You can obviously make a bigger cake if you have a bigger cookie cutter.
3 egg whites
30 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
30 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
40ml vegetable oil
80 grams cake flour
pink food colouring
To make sponge layer:
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius (or 150 degrees celsius fan-forced). Grease and line a 28cm x 28cm flat square cake pan with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites, 30 grams caster sugar and cornstarch until egg whites are glossy and stiff peaks form.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and 30 grams sugar until pale and thick. Combine milk, vanilla extract and oil in a small bowl, add to beaten egg yolk mixture, whisk at low speed until combined. Sift flour over egg mixture, and whisk at low speed until smooth and well-combined. Stir in pink food colouring until you get the desired shade.
Add one-third of meringue into egg yolk mixture and fold in lightly using a spatula. Add remaining meringue and gently fold to incorporate completely.
Pour batter into the prepared tin, bake for 20-25minutes, or until the cake has risen and feels springy to the touch. Remove from oven. Turn sponge straight from oven onto a sheet of baking paper. Peel off baking paper from the bottom of the sponge. Cover with baking paper, then a tea towel. Set aside to cool completely.
Cut round from the cake sponge using a 12cm diameter cookie cutter, or the biggest cutter that you got around the house.
Repeat all of above 2 more times to get a 3 layer cake.
200 grams strawberries
100 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
To make strawberry jam:
Puree strawberries in a food processor. Add strawberry puree, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the jam through a sieve into a bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon and discarding the solids. Refrigerate until ready to use.
100 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur (cointreau)
To make sugar syrup:
Combine water and sugar in saucepan, stir, over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to boil for 5 seconds. Cool completely before adding orange liqueur.
Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
300 grams mascarpone, cold
300 grams thickened cream, cold
30 grams icing sugar
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
To make vanilla mascarpone cream:
Using an electric mixer, whisk mascarpone, cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds until stiff peaks form but cream is still smooth. Take care not to overwhip the cream.
You will also need about fresh strawberries, sliced.
Brush first cake round with sugar syrup, then generously with strawberry jam, top with sliced strawberries, and spread or pipe mascarpone cream over cake. Brush second cake round with sugar syrup and strawberry jam on both sides, lightly press second cake round over, top with sliced strawberries, then spread or pipe mascarpone cream over cake. Brush last cake round with sugar syrup and strawberry jam on one side, lightly press cake with sugar syrup and jam side down. Cover cake with mascarpone cream. Refridgerate for at least 2 hours before serving.