Pauline van Hasselt (pictured right) has worked successfully as a chef for 15 years and is passionate about cooking and eating food. Beijing surprised her with a new career writing for beijingkids, but the culinary world is never far away. Van Hasselt is on a mission to find hidden gems of home cooks in this vibrant city of Beijing.
Now we won’t lie, we wish we created these cakes, but we did not. We found this mad skilled home baker and mother, Tessa Veitch. She has been baking and honing her skills for the last two years. The base of both cakes are actually very easy and basic; the rest, however, does require some baking skills.
You can start with learning how to make a basic sponge cake and slowly practice all year, and maybe by next Valentine’s Day; you will be good enough to make both of these delicious cakes, or something equally decadent. The pink Valentine’s cake oozes love, but by far our favorite was the S’mores Sponge Cake. This one takes us back to those star-filled nights and sitting around fires on camping trips.
Basic Sponge Recipe
This all-in-one recipe is dummy-proof. The ingredients listed below give enough batter for two 8’’ cake tins. The weights can easily be lowered or raised depending on the tin size in your cupboard.
– 225g plain flour sifted
– 225g fine sugar
– 225g butter, at room temperature
– 225g eggs (roughly 4-5 eggs), at room temperature
– 2 ½ tsp baking powder
– Jam of choice
– Fresh whipped cream or buttercream frosting
– 100g butter, room temperature
– 250g icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
– Splash of full-fat milk
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Grease two 8” cake tins by smearing a small amount of butter all over the bottom and sides. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper (do not use wax paper- it can melt in the oven).
3. Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl- using a hand mixer/electric whisk on slow, beat the ingredients until they are all combined. Then turn the speed up and beat well for several minutes until the batter is light and smooth.
4. Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked and has a golden color. (Test the cake by poking it in the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean- without any trace of wet batter- the cake is done.)
5. After 5-10 minutes, remove the cakes from the tins and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
6. Whip the cream or beat the buttercream ingredients to create the frosting.
7. You may wish to level off the top of the sponge if it has domed while cooking- otherwise, your filling might slide right out! Spread a layer of cream or frosting on the top of one cake and jam on the bottom of the other. Sandwich together and enjoy!
Valentine’s Day ‘Love’ Cake
Raspberry sponge, white chocolate ganache and raspberry curd filling, vanilla buttercream frosting, French macarons, fondant hand-modeled rose, white chocolate heart, fresh raspberries.
S’mores Layer Sponge
Whole wheat sponge, chocolate sponge, dark chocolate ganache and marshmallow frosting fillings, dark chocolate ganache drip, toasted marshmallows, whole wheat biscuits (graham crackers or another equivalent).
– 65g ground almonds
– 65g icing (confectioners’) sugar
– Two egg whites
– 45g extra fine sugar (blitz in a food processor if necessary)
– Food coloring of your choice (gel or paste- do not use liquid colorings)
1. Sift the almonds and icing sugar together and mix well.
2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks then add the sugar one spoon at a time, whisking well in between each addition.
3. Add a small amount of coloring until the desired color is reached.
4. Continue to whisk until the eggs form stiff peaks.
5. Gently fold in one-third of the almond/sugar into the egg white mixture until combined. Continue to fold in the rest of the almond and sugar until fully combined and the mixture runs off the spatula like lava.
6. Pipe the batter into ¾ inch circles 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Tap the sheet firmly against the counter to release any air bubbles.
7. Let the piped batter stand for 30 minutes until they form a skin.
8. Preheat oven to 165 degrees Celsius and bake for 12-14 minutes until macarons are risen and set.
9. Once cooled pipe a small amount of chosen filling- buttercream, ganache, curd, etc.- onto the back of one macaron and sandwich with another.
Photos: Dave’s Studio
This article appeared on p24-26 of beijingkids February 2018 issue.