Thursday, September 04, 2014

recipe: tiramisu cake

Hurrah a bake off success. I'm clearly in my comfort zone when it comes to baking cakes as I enjoyed this recipe more than the last few weeks. Now, before I run the risk of getting over-sentimental, this recipe still took a long time and it still required me to go out to buy more baking equipment and stock up on ingredients - store cupboard recipes these are not.

In terms of purchases, the ingredients were easily sourced this time, mascarpone cheese being the only thing I didn't already have. However I remain unconvinced that you can actually buy a Swiss roll tin in the dimensions Mary requests. Whilst normally this wouldn't present a problem bother me, it does actually matter here because the idea is that the sponge should be big enough to make four cakes that are the size of your square cake tin (when cut in half horizontally and then vertically). I've left the recipe with the sizes Mary recommends, but this wasn't what I did in the end.

Rather than scour the shelves for the perfectly dimensioned baking tins I bought the ones I could find and I decided to double the recipe and bake two sponges and make two thin squares from each. Mary Berry also made a comment in the recipe about using the offcuts for trifle or cake pops. Now, I'm not sure if Mary had just over faced herself with tiramisu cake (it is huge!) but if you had made it to the dimensions she recommended the minimal offcuts would have resulted in a paltry portion of cake pops! As it was I made cake pops out of my more plentiful leftovers but they were not a success. They had the potential to be, and the flavours definitely worked, but they were too soggy and a bit messy and so we shall speak of them no further (after I have shared with you the picture below as proof).

Ok, moving swiftly on. Let's talk about the sponge, it's definitely a recipe I would use again. It was brilliantly light and airy, and definitely worth whipping the mixture for an extra few minutes. It also made cutting the cake in half horizontally easier because it had risen well, although I did get to the end of slicing it and realised I had been holding my breath as I did it.

As I said it's still not a speedy recipe, but the two and a half hours they had in the programme was realistic, and if I hadn't endeavoured to make the ill-fated cake pops too, I would have just about managed it (albeit with plenty of washing up left over). For all it takes a while, you are pretty much constantly doing something, which is a lot more satisfying than having to do everything in stages with a few hours wait in between. I actually made this last Friday night, and having decided before I started that I was not going to get caught up on the intricacies of tempering chocolate, I enjoyed my few hours in the kitchen following the recipe.

The main change I would have made is to increase the amount of the coffee and brandy mixture. I had actually made extra but kept it back for the cake pops. When putting the cake together I found that it seemed to be quite scant when you divided the liquid between the four layers. The sponge wasn't dry but I would have liked it to have a little more of a soaking.

Inspired by Luis who piped writing on his (please excuse the worse-than-usual photography here), I put the Italian lessons to good use to decorate this cake. The Husband thought perhaps it could have been a little sweeter. There isn't much sugar at all in the mascarpone mixture, so it could take a little more, however everyone else thought it was good as it was, so maybe that's just a reflection of his sweet tooth!

I did use a slightly larger square tin than the recipe recommends, but even so this is a large, and rich cake. With so many layers of the cream a small portion is plenty, and as it doesn't keep particularly well I'd only really recommend making it for a big group, but only with a few hours to spare. I'm not sure if I would try it again in future, but I would be tempted to make a simpler tiramisu using the same basic recipe. After all of the controversy of the #bincident it was good to bake something from the programme and enjoy it, and forget about the drama that the editors seemed to have descended into. Apologies for the delay in posting this, the new placement is involving a lot of travel in these first few weeks, I'm spending more time in the South than the North at the moment and when I am home every second with feels precious. I have been trying to blog using the blogger app but find it entirely unusable, even on the iPad. Does anyone have any recommendations for useful blogging apps?

Recipe: Tiramisu Cake

(Recipe reproduced from BBC Food)

  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self raising flour
  • a little softened butter
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 100ml brandy
  • 750g of full-fat mascarpone cheese
  • 300ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 75g dark chocolate (at least 36%  cocoa solids) grated
  • 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 38x25cm swiss roll tin with the butter and line with baking parchment.
  • Whisk eggs and sugar for about five minutes using an electric whisk, until mixture is pale and thick. It should leave a light trail when the whisk is lifted up.
  • Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture using a metal spoon.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and gently tilt to level.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly touched. Cool in the tin for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack and leave until completely cool.
  • Dissolve the coffee in the hot water, add the brandy and leave to cool.
  • Beat the mascarpone until smooth, then gradually add the cream, continuing to beat the mixture. Add in the icing and combine until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.
  • When the cake is cool slice in half horizontally, and then use the base of a square 18cm cake tin to cut two squares from each horizontal slice.
  • Line the base and sides of the cake tin and lay the first square of sponge on the bottom. Spoon over a quarter of the coffee and brandy mixture, then spread over a quarter of the mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle with a third of the grated chocolate, and then repeat with the second and third layers of sponge.
  • Lay the fourth layer on top and cover with the remaining coffee mixture. Use a small amount of the remaining mascarpone to spread a thin crumb coat over the top of the sponge, then use a clean palette knife to spread the rest of the mascarpone on top in a smooth top layer. Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  • Whilst the cake is chilling, melt half of the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, gently stirring. Remove from heat once melted and add the remaining chocolate. Allow to cool to a consistency thick enough to pipe, then pipe decorative shapes onto a piece of baking parchment and leave to set. (See the link above for the specific temperatures for tempering)
  • When the cake is chilled, lift from the tin and place on a serving plate (you will likely need an extra pair of hands for this tricky transfer). Decorate with sifted cocoa powder and top with the chocolate decorations.