Lack of sleep, lack of time, lack of company with other human adults.
My life has been rather lacking in a number of ways over the past few months.
Mind, this is completely self-inflicted – I knew that getting a puppy would be tough and time-consuming work. I just wish I remembered how *much* hard work we were talking about!
First there was the toilet training. Then there was the separation anxiety and general obedience training. And now?
That’s right. Mr Tuna’s started losing his milk teeth and growing in his adult teeth – and nothing is safe from his itchy gums.
Mind, we’ve been relatively lucky so far – he hasn’t yet felt the urge chew through any phone or power cables, the washing is being left alone for the most part (other than my chasing him through the house this afternoon with him gleefully gripping one of my bras between his teeth), the shoes have survived and our fingers and toes are (mostly) intact.
However, another thing that has been lacking in my life is baking.
You see, while Mr Woofy had gotten used to my baking rampages and was happy to pass out on the bed without me, Mr Tuna is still very much my shadow and tries valiantly to follow my every move in the kitchen. Even when those moves are frantic dashes to the oven at 2am in the morning because I’ve forgotten about a cake in the oven that needs to come out RIGHT NOW.
And one of the things that I’ve been desperately wanting to bake over the past few years is a recreation of the light, not-to-sweet Asian fruit & cream sponge cake that is so prevalent in Korea. I knew that the cake base had to be a Genoise sponge as no other sponge gives that same incredible softness and lightness with the structural integrity to withstand a mounding-on of fruit and cream. However the tripping point was the cream.
I knew from my memory of the many cakes eaten back in the motherland that the cream was not *just* cream, yet I could never figure out what the difference was. I tried cream of different fat levels, different brands, different ratios, but none of it ever seemed right.
But a chance encounter with a Japanese baking book by the name of Okashi gave me the answer that I needed. GELATIN! Just enough of the damn stuff to thicken the cream up and give it more stability and a thicker mouthfeel without the oily feeling of butterfat on the tongue that using an extra rich double cream can give.
Using this trick turned out to be exactly the thing that I needed to take me back to the wonderfully elegant yet simple cakes that I loved, so I hope you’ll give this a try and enjoy it as much as I did
Japanese-style fruit & cream sponge
(from Okashi: Sweet treats made with love)
115g cake flour, sifted twice
170g eggs (approx. 3 large eggs)
130g caster sugar
15g glucose syrup
30g unsalted butter
45g whole-fat milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
600mL whipping cream (min. 35% fat)
20g whole-fat milk
15g caster sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4g powdered gelatin
1/4 cup of 1:1 sugar syrup **
500g fresh strawberries
200g fresh blueberries
6 ripe passionfruit (approx. 1/4 cup of pulp)
Any other combination of fruit that you like! Grapes, melon, berries – I’ve seen pretty much everything but citrus fruits used for this!
** Sugar syrup can be made with 1 cup water to 1 cup caster sugar, simmered till the sugar has just dissolved and stored in a clean glass jar in the fridge for a few months. It’s a great thing to have in the fridge as it can be used to moisten dry cakes or add sweetness to cocktails (or even just a cup of tea!)
18cm diameter cake tin, bottom and sides lined with non-stick baking paper
1 hand-held (manual) egg whisk
2 large mixing bowls
1 serrated bread knife
Large metal spoon or silicone spatula
1 large saucepan
1 large clean plastic bag
1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Fill the saucepan halfway with water and place on stovetop over medium heat, then place the egg, caster sugar and glucose in the mixing bowl and place over the top. Briskly whisk by hand till the volume doubles and mixture feels warm (but not hot) when you dip a finger in.
At this point, remove the bowl from the heat and use the electric whisk to beat at maximum speed till the colour, texture and volume changes as below and both the mixture and bowl have completely cooled:
2. Place the butter, milk and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and heat – either over a pot of boiling water, or via a quick zap in the microwave. Place 1/4 of the egg mixture in the clean bowl along with the melted butter mixture and carefully fold to lighten. Then add the remaining egg mixture and very carefully fold through with as little mixing as possible (this cake has no leaveners so overmixing will remove air bubbles from the egg and result in a flat cake).
Add the flour and fold in quickly and carefully, then pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for approx 30-40mins (or till the cake springs back when lightly touched). Wrap in a clean plastic bag and set aside till completely cool.
3. While the cake is cooling, place the milk, gelatin and vanilla from the cream ingredients in a saucepan or heatproof bowl and heat over a flame or in the microwave till the gelatin has completely dissolved (I find it works much better in the microwave, with none of the burning).
Beat the cream till you barely have soft peaks, then add the gelatin mixture (make sure it is still hot – if it has cooled, then it will solidify into lumps in the cream) and beat at high speed till you get firm – not stiff – peaks.
4. Once the cake has completely cooled, use your serrated bread knife to carefully cut the cake in half. Make sure to be as even as possible.
Brush the cut layers with sugar syrup, then cover the bottom piece with a thin layer of cream and then layer some fruit. Spread another layer of cream across the top to help anchor the whole thing together, then place the top half of the cake back on.
5. Cover the entire cake with the whipped cream and garnish with whatever cut fruits you like! Give the whole thing a quick dusting with some icing sugar and serve to enjoy!
This cake is best on the day it is made, but will keep in the fridge for up to 48 hours – anything more than that and the delicate thing will start to disintegrate
Now, for those of you who are hanging out for the Korean beef rib & Chinese radish soup, keep checking back as I promise to get that up before the week is out! Otherwise you could “like” the Kitchen Wench facebook page to be kept abreast of any announcements I make as well as getting a sneak peak at any upcoming recipes!