05 August 2016

STRAWBERRY DREAM CAKE

When you love strawberries, there really is no wrong way of eating them. They can be a part of many dishes, sweet and savoury, and today they are a part of a lovely birthday cake. Sweet, spongy strawberry cake layers, sandwiched together by a delicious vanilla and strawberry filling, and all that enveloped in a generous coat of vanilla bean paste frosting. It is as fragrant, as it is delicious. The epitome of summer.
Try your best not to overmix the batter, because that will make the cake dry; and, what's equally important - do not overbake it. Because it's such a small cake, it doesn't require a lot of baking, so pay close attention to it. It is fine if the sides turn a little brown, that can be trimmed before frosting. As far as proper storing goes, keep it refrigerated until serving time, and you can even place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, it will make the cake almost ice-cream like.


Ingredients
For the strawberry cake layers
180 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100 grams granulated sugar
2 medium egg whites
180 ml whole milk
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons strawberry extract
1 drop strawberry red gel food colouring
For the filling
120 ml whole milk
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 whole vanilla bean
100 grams caster (superfine) sugar
150 grams butter, softened
1 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberries, crushed
¼ teaspoon strawberry red gel food colouring
For the vanilla frosting
200 ml whole milk
5 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
100 grams caster (superfine) sugar
200 grams butter, softened
For the white chocolate ganache
100 grams real white chocolate
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 drop strawberry red gel food colouring

Preparation
Take a large bowl and sift the flour with the baking powder twice, add sugar and whisk well. In another bowl, whisk the whole milk with the oil, add in the food colouring and strawberry extract, and whisk really well. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, add in the egg whites, and blend everything well by hand. Take two small round pans (10 cm; 4”), grease the bottoms and sides, then line them with baking paper. The paper should go high up the sides, to prevent the spilling. Evenly distribute the batter, and bake, in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F) for about 20-25 minutes. Check them with a toothpick, and let them cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, start with the filling. Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the flour, sugar, and the beans from the vanilla bean, and whisk everything thoroughly. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It will coat the back of the spoon, and it will resemble a cooked pudding. It should take about 5 minutes or so. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature or even slightly cooler. Once the custard has cooled, place the softened butter into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 3 minutes, until it becomes lighter in colour, and completely creamy. At this point, start adding the cooked base, a tablespoon at a time, beating on high constantly. Divide the frosting into three equal parts, and add the freeze-dried strawberries, and the food colouring to one of the bowls. Mix well and set it aside.
Make the frosting in the same way - pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the flour and sugar, and whisk everything thoroughly. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Same as before, it should thicken up enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 5 minutes). Remove it from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Once the base has cooled, place the softened butter into a large bowl, add in the vanilla bean paste, and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 3 minutes, until it becomes lighter in colour, and completely creamy. At this point, start adding the cooked base, a tablespoon at a time, beating on high constantly. Set the finished frosting aside.
To assemble the cake, start by levelling the cakes if they rose unevenly. Cut the levelled cakes into two layers. Take a bit of frosting and spread it on the serving platter (to keep the cake from moving while you frost). Place the first cake layer on the platter, and spread a third of the vanilla filling you made earlier. Place the second cake layer on top, then spread the strawberry filling evenly. Place the third cake layer on top of that, spread on the remaining vanilla filling, and place on the final cake layer. Take three thin cake dowels and insert them in a triangular manner into the cake, then trim to level them. Place the cake for about 10 minutes in the freezer to firm it up, then use the vanilla frosting to crumb coat the entire cake. Place it bake into the freezer for another 10 minutes, then evenly frost the entire cake, smoothing out the frosting as you work. Let the cake sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.
While the frosted cake is chilling, make the Ganache. Melt together the white chocolate and heavy cream over low heat or in the microwave, then add in the food colouring and mix until well incorporated. Let the Ganache cool a bit more, so it doesn't melt the frosting. Once the Ganache is ready, remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour it over the top of the cake, and down the sides. Decorate the cake further with some white chocolate dragees, and return it to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Yields 4 servings.

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