18 December, 2013

Triple Layer Strawberry Sponge

The Sprout has decided, out of no where, that he simply can't live without cake.  Not just any cake...either plain yellow cake or plain chocolate cake.  NO frosting allowed!  What a let down...  But, since I spend at least two or three sessions of baking making him one of these, I decided to try a couple of different things with it.  The traditional way that Queen Victoria had it..simply two thin layers of sponge cake with raspberry jam between and powdered sugar dusted on top (she favored that for a tea snack, who wouldn't?).  Then there was the time that I made it into a Cherry Upside Down cake...that was so yummly.  

The cake itself is quite dense, so it plays like more of a meal to me.  Even when I made it with sifted cake flour rather than sifted all purpose, it was quite hefty as a cake.  I usually bake with myself in mind, but I figured that I should throw the Mister a bone every once in a while and make something I am sure HE would like.  His favorite fruit is strawberries, while I have nothing against them they just seem to be the fruit that the world has the least amount of imagination with.  So much so that it almost can't stand on its own, it has to be paired with other things to tempt people.  Strawberry-Kiwi, Strawberry-Banana...Strawberry-Rhubarb....  When someone asks me if I want strawberry anything I usually decline, but if it is mixed with a spot of rhubarb, I accept the offer.  I know I can't be the only person that has this problem with the strawberry.  So, with this recipe I tried to not only make the strawberry the star of the show but give it a sound/sturdy, piece of cake to play off of. 

Triple Layer Strawberry Sponge Cake
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. caster sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. cake flour
2 c. strawberry jam (homemade is best!)
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
5-7 c. powdered sugar
fresh strawberries to garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease and flour 3 eight inch cake pans or...use Bake Easy and 3 eight inch rounds of parchment paper.  Set the pans aside.

Whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt and set it aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, scraping down your bowl when needed.  About 5 minutes is good.  Then add your eggs in, one at a time.  Completely incorporating each one after each addition until all 3 eggs are into the sugar mixture.  On the lowest setting on your mixer or by hand gently stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients being careful to not over mix.  

Divide your batter evenly between the 3 cake pans and give them a light shake back and forth to make sure the cake settled evenly into the pan.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes OR until a toothpick inserted into each cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven to cooling racks and allow them to sit until completely cool before attempting to assemble the cake.

Warm 1 1/2 c. of the jam either in the microwave or on the stove top (stove top gives you more control).  When it is warm set it aside with the cooled cakes while you make the icing.

Start your icing by creaming the butter, 3 c. of the powdered sugar, and the vanilla together.   When it is well incorporated add in the remaining 1/2 c. of strawberry jam to the frosting.  This portion of the jam should have remained at room temperature.  Depending on the consistency of the icing after adding the jam you may need to add anywhere between 2-4 c. more of powdered sugar.  This depends on your personal preference for consistency.  Some people like their icings very soft, some like their icings so stiff they can feel the sugar crunch on their teeth (like my Mister...blech....).  Now, you can either load this icing into a piping bag with a plain round tip or use a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.  Both accomplish the same thing.

Place a tiny smear of icing in the middle of a round piece of parchment paper that is slightly larger than the size of the cake itself.  I used a 9 inch round piece of parchment.  Then, place your first cake round on the parchment paper, pressing a bit to make sure the icing adheres to the cake.  Now, pipe a healthy thickness of an icing ring around the outside edge of your bottom layer of cake.  When you have the icing ring on, add 3/4 c. of strawberry jam to the inside of the ring and spread it evenly over the cake, keeping the jam inside the ring.

Now add the second cake to the top of this one, repeat the thick icing ring and place the other 3/4 c. of jam inside that ring.  Place the third round of cake on top and then give the cake a light "crumb coat" (basically...cover the edges and top with a thin...not necessarily "neat" layer of icing) and set it aside to cure a while.  Perhaps an hour or so.  After that has set completely, finish icing the cake and garnish as you will.  For whatever reason, I decided not to garnish mine.

Because of the lack of garnish to give your eye something else to focus on, I have to say that this is one of the ugliest cakes I've ever made!  It looks so plain...like a canvas waiting for paint.  But the good news is, all anyone in our home is ever interested in is how things TASTE!

The great news is that the cake did taste quite fabulous.  The first person to get a slice was the Mister.  He ate it with all due haste.  The next day I brought the rest of it to church to share with whomever was willing to give it a go.  When I left there was 1/4 of a slice left.  Now, that is what I call a successful recipe! (Unless everyone was just super hungry after church. *shrug*)

Now, there is NO reason why you can't make this cake with other fruits of course.  Cherry, raspberry, apricot, blueberry; you could even make this out of chocolate really.  Just make a great chocolate ganache out of either dark or semi-sweet chocolate with some heavy cream in place of the jam and when you make the icing, add cocoa powder to the butter before adding in the powdered sugar.  Yumm!!  There really is no end to what you can do with this cake recipe, play around with it and let me know what you do.  I'm sure you're going to enjoy this cake as much as we all did.  Happy baking!

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