Since we were in a hotel when his birthday passed, the best I could do in terms of celebration food was a latte and a slice of coffee cake from the hotel Starbucks. But now that I have the use of a kitchen, a true celebration cake is in order. Yesterday, I baked him a cake, based on a cake that he had eaten when he broke the 30 Hour Famine. He had liked that berry sponge cake from Richtree so much at the time (although after 25 hours without eating I’m sure he would have liked anything), so I attempted to recreate it.
The difficult part was that I didn’t know what the different components of the cake were because I hadn’t even tasted it. The cake I made yesterday was solely based on my observations and what my brother was able to describe in between mouthfuls of cake. Truth be told, Kyle doesn’t know what half of the stuff he puts in his mouth is so he wasn’t much help. He had taken a bite of the Vegan Chocolate Torte and said that it tasted good, albeit a tad bit strange. When I informed his that the cream was made from avocados, he promptly shoved his plate in my direction because, apparently, he doesn’t like avocados.
From what I saw, the cake was composed of four elements: the sponge cake layer at the bottom, followed by a layer of cream, some berries on top of the cream, with a top layer of jello filling the spaces between the fruit. I didn’t know for sure, but Kyle confirmed that there was a layer of cream (though he couldn't tell what kind of how thick) and that there was indeed jello on the top of the cake.
|this is how the whipped eggs should look.|
I took all of this in stride and figured that the cake wasn’t that difficult to make. All I had to do was bake a sponge cake, make some pastry cream, wash some berries, and make some jello. Once everything was mise en place, I began to assemble the cake. I spread a thin layer of pastry cream over the cake, being sure to seal the top. I sprinkled some berries over top, pressing slightly to adhere. Then I brought the cake to the basement kitchen and poured the jello over top before I stowed it away in the fridge.
I had guessed that the pastry cream would act like a barrier to prevent the jello from soaking into the sponge cake. I still can’t tell if my assumption was right or wrong. When I went down to grab something from the fridge five minutes after I had put the cake in, I found that the liquid jello had seeped through the springform pan and formed a viscous pool on the baking sheet I’d placed the cake on (thank goodness I’m that compulsive; washing a baking sheet is a lot easier than scrubbing out the floor of the fridge). I sighed disappointedly but I figured there wasn’t much I could do.
I was a little wary to see how the cake turned out a couple hours later. I braced myself for what I would find when I opened the door to the fridge. A jello-y mess on the floor of the fridge? A rubbery sponge cake filled with bits of jello? An empty space where the cake once sat? (It was possible that Kyle’s friends, who were sleeping over at our house, could have eaten it. Half a dozen hungry teenage boys and nothing in the fridge but a berry cake...)
I brought the cake upstairs. On closer inspection, it appeared fine. Only a minimal amount of jello remained on the surface of the cake; most of it had leaked out of the bottom of the springform pan (okay, so now I know that that springform pans leak.) When I sliced myself a piece of cake and tried a bite, I was surprised to see and taste that the liquid jello had not mixed in with the pastry cream or absorbed into the cake. It seemed that the jello had merely seeped out the bottom of the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake and cream unaffected.
This cake wasn’t exactly the version that Kyle had eaten, but it was still quite a success according to the empty plates of half a dozen of Kyle’s friends. I’m not even sure I want to recreate the Richtree version or instead, to just omit the jello entirely.
Obviously, I need to go to Richtree and actually eat the cake before I try to recreate it.
Click below for the recipe.
Berry Sponge Cake
Adapted from: http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Sponge-Cake
- 5 Large Eggs
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar, sifted
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup cake flour, sifted
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream plus ½ cup whole milk (or any other combination of milk and cream)
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1b strawberries, washed, dried, cut into quarters
- 12 oz raspberries, washed, dried
- 6 oz blackberries
- 6 oz blueberries
- You can use any combination of fruit; the amounts listed above are what I used.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line one 10-inch round springform pan with waxed paper or parchment paper; lightly grease paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and salt until foamy. While the mixer is still running, gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until the eggs are light and fluffy. This part took me about 7 minutes.
Add the vanilla and the flour. Fold in the flour. Do not over mix.
Pour batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly from center out. Gently tap pans several times on table to break air bubbles.
Bake in center of oven 13 to 17 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed gently. With thin knife, loosen sides of cake. Turn out of pan onto wire rack; cool completely.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream/milk and vanilla extract over medium heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, flour, sugar, and salt together.
When the cream/milk begins to steam, take the pan off the heat and slowly pour the hot cream into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Do this slowly, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. At this point, you can strain the mixture.
Return the pastry cream onto the heat and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens. Transfer the pastry cream into a shallow dish and cover with piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream (to prevent a skin). Let the pastry cream cool to room temperature.
Place the cake on the serving platter. Using an angled spatula, spread a thin layer of cream over top. Top with berries.