As the days go by, I feel more christmassy than ever. I think that given the nature of the year that we are going to leave behind soon, many of us will not be in the mood for celebrations, or maybe some will need to celebrate even more to cheer themselves up. For me, it’s hard to say. I feel that I need a break from quite a few things and I feel the need to spend some quiet time at home with my husband and my cat (<3) but I am also sad that I will not see my parents this year for the first time ever. Everything is postponed and for our situation this is the right thing to do, but still, it feels stranger than ever.
When I need to cheer myself up I plan a bake. It takes my mind off other things for a while: the flavour combinations, the decorations, the textures etc. The shape! This weekend I baked this berries, matcha and pandan cake, with a strawberry sponge, a matcha syrup, a pandan buttercream, a cranberry jam and decorated with some macarons filled with a strawberry-cranberry ganache. We had tea with a slice of this and it was absolutely great, the recipe for this sponge is a keeper because it’s so moist and fluffy and absorbs the syrup really well.
I was tempted to pipe pines with the buttercream but I felt I needed to exercise some restraint if I really wanted to place the macarons on top. And I wanted to. Especially because while beating the vegan whites they just started climbing the beater, so I had to stop it and whip them by hand. My bicep looked like Schwarzenegger’s for the rest of the day and it still feels a bit stiff. I was worried that they wouldn’t bake well and yet after 15 minutes in the oven I noticed the feetsies appearing and I was super happy with how they came out. Actually they were the most perfect I have baked so far (I have macarons 3 times, so I don’t have many attempts to compare). So maybe hand whipping from a certain point on helps (?).
Note, for the strawberry powder (see below) I found it here https://www.kotkaliving.com, but there’s plenty of sources for these powders, it’s basically frozen fruit that then is pulverised. It’s very flavourful, colours naturally and you can use flavours that are not in season. I find that these powders work wonders in white chocolate based ganaches – I discovered them when I found out that couverture chocolates as Valhrona’s (like the passion fruit or the raspberry one) have milk in it. So I figured: why cannot I have a raspberry ganache that is super smooth and silky? Raspberry powder worked really well for me and adds a touch of pink (so we don’t always have to use beetroot powder!).
Let’s get to work with the shopping list for this fluffy cake:
280g self raising
20g strawberry powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
160g butter, beaten
Beat the butter with 2 tbsp of the sugar in a bowl, then add to the sifted sponge flour and strawberry powder and mix well with your hands. By coating the flour with butter before adding the liquid the sponge will stay fluffier. Add the sugar and mix, then add the milk. I usually add the first 300ml all at once and incorporate that, then I proceed slowly to confirm that I am obtaining the texture I want. These doses worked perfectly for me.
Bake in 2 batched in a 14cm round tin at 160 for 50 minutes and leave 30 more minutes in the tin before removing. Out of what I have baked I cut out 3 discs of sponge.
Matcha sample syrup
4 tbsp agave
4 tbsp water
3 tsp matcha powder
Dissolve the agave in the water on a saucepan on a low-medium flame, then stir in the matcha and cook for 5 minutes. Spoon on each of the sponge discs. The flavour will not be strong but it will give a pleasant earthy taste.
1 lemon zest
100g brown sugar
2g NH pectin – not necessary but if you can add it do
Water – if needed
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 20-30 minutes. You can add a few tbsp of water if needed. Once cooked, move to a bowl and cover with cling film touching the top. Store in the fridge once cooled down.
120g vegan butter
120g icing sugar – I used the cane fair trade
3 tsp pandan extract
Beat the butter for a couple of minutes before adding the sugar and the pandan extract – it should be a light green which colours adorably the cream. Also pandan powder would work well. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe 2 circles on the base and on the second layer of the sponge and fill the centre with the cranberry jam.
160g white chocolate
40g heavy cream
Melt the white chocolate with the double boiler system and heat the heavy cream in the meanwhile. Once the chocolate is melted, pour the warm cream on it, let sit for a minute and then whisk. Cover the top and sides of your cake and store in the fridge. It won’t set as well as it would with dark chocolate, but it’s an alternative way to keep the cake together if you don’t want to use more buttercream, otherwise buttercream is absolutely up to the task.
Decorate the top of the cake with fresh cranberries, some buttercream and macarons – I have used the recipe by Petra Stahlová. For the ganache I have used: 70g white chocolate, 30g cream and the same procedure for the chocolate frosting, but I have whisked in also 1 tbsp of strawberry powder and 1 tbsp of the cranberry jam – careful when piping because the jam has pieces of cranberry in it which it make it super delicious but also difficult to pipe (you can blend it, I personally like the texture of the fruit).
If you make this cake let me know here or on instagram @cake_files_ ! I am looking forward to seeing your creations!