There comes a time when you just need to bake a cake. You don’t need an excuse or a friend’s birthday, you just go with it and do it and bake yourself your own damn cake. Cakes can be as simple or as involved as you want them to be. However, I have found that the simplest cakes to put together are usually the tastiest to eat. I put this sponge cake together in less than 1 hour and it is one of the most heavenly cakes I’ve ever made in my life.
Thanks to generous publishing companies, sometimes I have the chance to scout out baking books I wouldn’t normally purchase myself. In the last batch of books I was sent, The Baking Bible by Annie Bell was included. First of all, can we talk about how closely the title of that book sounds to my blog? Every time I look at the cover, I keep thinking it says The Baking Bird… subliminal messages to someday create my own cookbook? In my dreams…
Anyway, let’s first just say that I have a mental subconscious checklist of criteria when evaluating baking books/cookbooks in general. A) Are the recipes creative? B) Do over 90% of the recipes have photos of the end-product? C) Is the photography inspiring? That’s pretty much all I look for, and what makes me jump the gun to purchase something. If I had picked this book up at the bookstore without knowing about it previously, I definitely would have put it on my wish list.
The book includes over 200 recipes that have been “triple-tested”, and as they claim, “ones that you’ll want to cook again and again”. I couldn’t agree more. You can tell this cake was honed in on several times to get the ratios of butter and chocolate and sugar just right, and it is one I told myself I would be making again and again in the future. It is the quintessential yellow birthday cake paired with chocolate icing. Simple ingredients, simple steps, super delicious results. It’s like a light, airy yellow angel food cake but with chocolate, because duh, who doesn’t want something chocolatey. But it’s not overdone, not too dense or fudgy. Just right. Add some fresh raspberries and/or strawberries to the mix and you’ve basically got a little slice of heaven. Ridiculously impressed, and I can’t wait to try out more of her recipes soon. Some other standouts on the list: Soft-Bake Chocolate & Fennel Cookies, Saffron Lemon Crisps, Lavender Shortbread, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Rum Butter Macarons, Orange Chiffon Cake, and more. Many, many more. Thank you MM Publicity and Annie Bell!
P.S. This would be the perfect dessert for Mother’s Day, coming right up around the corner! Just sayin.
BLONDE SPONGE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
Makes one 8″ cake
Recipe from The Baking Bible by Annie Bell
For the Cake:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- pinch fine sea salt
- 6 large eggs
- 3/4 cup superfine sugar
For the Buttercream:
- 2 oz dark chocolate (70%), broken into pieces
- 2 oz milk chocolate, broken into pieces
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, diced
For the Glaze:
- 4 oz dark chocolate (70%), broken into pieces
- 4 oz milk chocolate, broken into pieces
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 2 Tablespoons strong black coffee
Extras: milk chocolate curls for decorating, fresh berries
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter two 8″ nonstick cake pans.
- Whisk the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl, beating for about 6 minutes using an electric mixer. The mixture will look almost white and mousse-like.
- Lightly fold the flour in to the egg/sugar mixture in two batches. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans and give them a couple of sharp taps on the work surface to eliminate any large bubbles. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cake is lightly golden and springy to the touch. It will shrink from the sides. Remove from oven, run a knife around the edges to loosen them, and leave to cool in pans. The cakes will contract and sink a little, it’s ok!
- To make the buttercream, slowly melt the two chocolates in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Spoon into a clean bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor, processing for a minute or so until pale and mousse-like. Now add the butter, a few pieces at a time, processing until it resembles a thick custard. Spoon the egg yolk mix into the cooled melted chocolate, blending to make a glossy butter icing.
- Remove the cakes from the pans, and place one on your serving plate. Spread the buttercream (yes, all of it!) and sandwich with the second cake.
- To make the chocolate glaze, place the two chocolates and butter in your small saucepan again, then whisk in the coffee to give a thick, glossy icing and spread over the tops and sides of the cake. Refrigerate to set the chocolate icing before decorating with the chocolate curls. The cake has kept well for me in the fridge the last 2 days, although it is almost gone! Top with fresh berries and whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!