Exactly a year ago today, I wrote my very first blog post! So, happy birthday little blog! I’ve already put up the streamers! I’ve organized a little party! And – duh, duh, double duh! – I baked a delicious cake to celebrate! I’m so excited! And I’m so proud! So you’ll just have to forgive me all those exclamation marks! I can’t help myself!!!
What an amazing year it’s been! I’ve learned so much about blogging! Did you know it took me ages and ages to write my first – say – 20 blog posts? I even suffered from the occasional writer’s block! But those days are long gone now… And what about my food photography? A few days ago I looked back on my first food photos and I actually cringed! And hey, these days I actually know what an FTP client is. Sounds pretty clever, right? Sure, I still don’t know how to use it, but who cares?! My food blog is one today!
Sing a little song! Do a little dance! And – most importantly – eat a little cake! Or a lot of cake… This cake!
I’ve been wanting to post this recipe ever since I first started the blog. I didn’t include it in the to-bake shortlist I included in my first post, but it’s been in the back of my mind ever since the Rocking Rebel first came up with this recipe.
No, I didn’t come up with this beauty. My gorgeous, perfect boyfriend did! He actually made it for my 25th birthday last year. Usually, I’m the one who bakes the cakes around our house. And my mom’s house. And my sister’s house. I’m the family cake baker, so whenever we have a birthday in the family, I bake cake. That’s how it has been for years and everyone seems very happy about it.
But guess what? It’s no fun to bake your own cake. Wait, that’s not true. Baking cakes is always fun, but it’s a lot more fun to be surprised! You see, when I have a birthday coming up, the Rocking Rebel starts sneaking around the house, smuggling wrapping paper and other gift wrapping supplies down to our basement. I usually figure out that he’s up to something when all the scissors have mysteriously gone missing. He also pays unexpected, last-minute visits to the supermarket, after which I’m usually banned from the kitchen because he’s making me something.Like I said: it’s a lot more fun that baking!
Anyway, last year he wanted to make me a cake. It wasn’t really a surprise because he had come to me for tips and advise, but it was probably one of the best birthday gifts ever! I mean, he stayed up until three in the morning, slaving away in the kitchen just to make me a homemade birthday cake! It was so thoughtful and sweet and perfect!
So this is the Rocking Rebel’s recipe: a moist vanilla cake, imbibed with a fruity raspberry syrup, filled with a delicious, velvety raspberry buttercream and decorated with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate curls!
Just the way I like my cakes…
The recipe may seem a little daunting (because it’s LONG!) but the steps shouldn’t be too intimidating. It’s just a little mixing and baking. You do need a sugar or a candy thermometer for the buttercream, but really the cake is a breeze to make. I mean, the Rocking Rebel never bakes! Never ever ever! And when he made this cake, it came out beautiful! Sure, the Rocking Rebel is incredibly talented in a lot of different ways and he has a knack for figuring things out, but still he is definitely a novice baker…
So feel reassured. Make this cake!
That’s not all! Because today is such an exciting day I’ve got a little gift for my trusty readers too! Today, I’m giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Because hey, you can never have enough cookbooks! I just ordered ‘Sally’s Baking Addiction‘ a few days ago! And I’ve had my eye on a particular Katie Melua album for some time now! But you know Amazon: it’s got basically everything you could ever wish for!
To enter this giveaway, just answer a simple question in the Giveaway Widget below. You can increase your chances of winning by also liking me on Facebook and tweeting about this giveaway!
This giveaway is open until Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 12:00AM UTC+1. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on this post. I will email the winner and if the winner doesn’t respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS BEEN CLOSED.
But back to the cake! It’s delicious and fruity and – come to think of it – kind of perfect for the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having here lately. Okay, today was a bit rainy, but yesterday the Rocking Rebel and I spent a gorgeous afternoon sunbathing on a picnic blanket in a farmer’s field with Lucy!
So spring can’t be far away, right?
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Update 1st of March, 2014: the recipe has been updated after some of my readers discovered mysterious words which turned out to be Dutch. I’m sorry for the confusion!
- 180ml (or ½ cup) whole milk
- 180g (or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
- 250g (or 2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- ⅜ teaspoon table salt
- 450g (or 1½ cups) sugar
- 4,5 large eggs
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100g (or 1 cup) frozen raspberries. Use a little more if you want to use fresh.
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 180g (or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
- 3 egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 240g (or 1 cup and 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed*
- 50g (or ¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
- either 1 teaspoon raspberry eau de vie or liqueur (or even kirsch), or ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 300ml whipping cream
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 22 beautiful, fresh raspberries
- 2 cups of chocolate curls, I used store bought.
- Start by preheating your oven to 175°C/350°F (standard oven setting) and butter two 20-cm/8-inch round baking pans (I used two springform pans). Line the bottoms of the pans with baking parchment so the cakes will come out easily.
- Next, combine the milk and cubed butter in a small saucepan. Heat gently over low heat until the mixture feels warm when you dip your finger in it. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir until the butter has melted. Because the pan and the milk are warm, the butter should melt nicely. Once all the butter has melted set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.
- In the meantime, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Stir together with a fork and set aside.
- Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla to a medium-sized bowl and stir together with a rubber spatula. Fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and heat gently, stirring with a spatula until the sugar has dissolved. To check whether the sugar has dissolved, rub a little of the egg mixture between your thumb and index finger; you should no longer feel any sugar grains.
- Take the bowl off the heat and start mixing the mixture with a stand or a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment(s). Mix until the mixture is pale and fluffy and has cooled to room temperature. Again, use your finger to make sure.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and use a rubber spatula to fold them in. As soon as the dry ingredients have absorbed the wet ingredients, give the mixture a quick mix with the mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix for another second or so. The mixture should look smooth.
- Give the milk and butter mixture a stir and dip your finger in it to make sure it’s no longer warm (body temperature is perfect) and that the butter and milk are incorporated.
- Add half of the milk mixture and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if needed. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix until smooth again. Don’t overmix, as soon as the batter looks smooth and the milk mixture is mixed in, stop mixing.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared baking pans and rap each pan sharply on the countertop to make sure there aren’t any big air pockets in the batter. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cakes have turned a gorgeous golden brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Take the pans out of the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then take the cakes out of the pan completely or just remove the springform collars (if you were using sprinform pans). Allow to cool to room temperature, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. I did the latter. A cool cake is so much easier to work with.
- Combine the raspberries, the tablespoon of water and the teaspoon of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, crank the heat up to medium-high and, using the back of a spoon, squash the berries against the sides of the pan. Allow the mixture to briefly come to a boil, then take it off the heat.
- Transfer the berries to a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Blitz until smooth. If you don’t like raspberry seeds in your buttercream (I love those little seeds) pass the puree to a sieve. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- To a small saucepan, add the sugar and the water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear, take the pan off the heat and pour the syrup in a mug. Allow to cool to room temperature, measure off 60ml (or ¼ cup) of syrup (discard the rest) and stir in the liquor, eau de vie or kirsch.
- Combine the rest of the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, crank up the heat and clip on a sugar thermometer. Cook the syrup until it reaches 114°C/238°F. As the syrup cooks, the water will evaporate. Make sure the sugar syrup does not get any hotter than 114°C/238°F, because the chemical properties of sugar change as it heats.
- While the syrup is cooking, mix together the egg whites and salt in a medium-sized, heatproof bowl. Once the sugar syrup reaches 114°C/238°F, immediately take it off the heat and carefully drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites down the sides of the mixing bowl, mixing continuously. Don't pour the syrup directly onto the whisk attachment of the mixer, because the hot syrup may splatter. Once all of the syrup has been added, raise the mixer's speed to high and mix until the meringue has cooled to room temperature. This takes about 10 minutes.
- When the meringue is cool enough, start adding the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon of butter is incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, the resulting buttercream should be smooth and thick.
- If the buttercream looks curdled the butter was either too cold or the meringue (or the bowl) was still too hot before the butter was added. To fix curdled buttercream, first determine what caused the curdling. Rub a little buttercream between your thumb and index finger. If you feel (or even see) hard butter particles, the butter was too cold. Place the bowl with the buttercream over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water) for 10 seconds, mixing continuously. The heat of the steam will melt the butter into the meringue. After 10 seconds, take the bowl of the heat and mix until smooth. Or repeat if necessary. If there are no hard butter particles, feel the sides of the bowl. If it’s warm, the meringue was still too hot before the butter was added. Place the buttercream in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then mix until smooth.
- Once you’re happy with the consistency of the buttercream, make sure the raspberry puree has cooled to room temperature. If it has, mix it into the buttercream.
- First make sure your cake will fit in your refrigerator. Clear a space if necessary. Using a serrated knife, remove any dome from the cakes to level it and carefully split each cake in half. Make sure to keep your knife perfectly level (place your other hand on top of the cakes; this will give you more control over the knife). I actually didn't split the cakes in half, but sliced of 1½-cm (or a little over half an inch) layers, after I leveled the tops.
- Reserve one of the bottom layers of the cakes for the top of the finished cake. Place a small dollop of buttercream in the middle of a serving plate and place one of the remaining three cake layers on top of it (press the cake layer down onto the plate). The buttercream will prevent the cake from slipping. Place the serving plate on top of a rotating cake stand or a lazy Susan.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the cake layer with the orange syrup. Don't overdo it, you don't want the cake to become soggy. Just pretend you're making a watercolor painting. Scoop about ¾ of a cup of buttercream on top of the cake layer and, using a spatula, spread it evenly over the top of the cake layer, pushing it towards and a little over the sides of the layer with your spatula. This 'overhanging' buttercream will make frosting the assembled cake a lot easier.
- Place the second layer neatly on top of the first and press down lightly. Repeat this process of brushing and frosting with buttercream until you come to the fourth and final layer. Place the cake layer you reserved neatly, flat-dark-side up, on top of the cake. At this point, you should have a cake with four visible cake layers and some overhanging buttercream. The cake now needs to be crumb coated. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that locks in the crumbs of the cake and thus keeps the crumbs out of the final layer of frosting.
- Crumb coat the cake by using a spatula to smooth the overhanging buttercream over the sides of the cake, pushing it over the top edge of the cake. If necessary, add some more buttercream to the sides of the cake until you have a nice thin coating. Use the excess buttercream you pushed over the top edge of the cake to thinly frost the top. It doesn't matter if there are any crumbs visible in the frosting. Place the cake in the fridge for 60 minutes to allow the crumb coat to harden.
- In a medium-sized bow, combine the whipping cream and sugar. Mix until the cream holds soft peaks. Take the cake out of the fridge and place it on a rotating cake stand or lazy Susan again. Using a spatula, frost the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of whipped cream. Make sure the whipped cream completely covers the pink buttercream.
- Gently press handfuls of the chocolate curls against the sides of the cake. Because the sides of the cake have been frosted, the chocolate should stick. Transfer the remaining whipped cream to a piping bag with a large open tip and pipe 16 large dollops of cream on top of the cake. Place a fresh raspberry on each dollop. Place the remaining raspberries in the center of the top of the cake.
- Can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days, but be careful if you store strong-smelling foods, such as stinky cheeses or garlicky sauces in the fridge too. The smell (and taste) can transfer to the cake. Allow the cake to come to room temperature for about 3 hours before serving. Buttercream needs to be served at room temperature, otherwise it will be unpleasantly firm, so make sure to allow the buttercream to soften completely before serving.