Another year, another year older.
If you have really sharp memories, you might be thinking, hang on a minute Shaz, wasn’t your birthday in October? Why yes. Yes it was. Only I’ve been a tad busy of late and even thought I’d managed to make the cake for my actual birthday, typing this post had to wait.
But I’m here now, with little cakes in tow, and I’d also like to give you a present for my birthday :).
I’m sure you’ve seen the various CSN giveaways around the interwebs, but just in case you haven’t, allow me to tell you that CSN is an online retailer with over 200 stores, selling everything from coffee tables to cameras. (And yes, that link will take you to, wait for it....lots of coffee tables!).
I was contacted by a lovely lady from the CSN Promo team who offered to give my loyal readers a $55 gift code valid at any of their online stores . (Heh, you have to be loyal to put up with my tangents!).
Unfortunately, CSN only ships to the US, Canada, the UK and Germany, so this giveaway is limited to readers from those countries. Bear in mind that conversion rates apply. Some items may also incur shipping charges (international shipping taxes for Canada). [Edit - some international shipping charges to Canada cannot be covered by the Promo Code, however domestic shipping costs within the other countries can be covered by the code.] I’m sure you’ll be able to choose wisely :)
What do you have to do? Very simple, just leave a comment on this post anytime between today and 12 November, by midnight EST (here’s a timezone converter if it helps). A winner will be picked at random/ out of a hat.
Now back to the cakes. Don’t they look striking? I’ve been longing to bake these Strawberry Tea squares for years! They’re on the first page of my little Quick and Easy Small Cakes book (Kazuko Kawachi), and every time I open the book, they look at me and tempt me. (I’ve mentioned this book before but if you’re looking for it, I don’t think it’s in print anymore).
When I was first given the QaESM book by an aunty in Malaysia, I didn’t even know where to start trying to source ingredients like the fresh strawberries, marzipan and green tea required. These items were quite exotic back then, we’re talking very early 90s here.
But I live in a temperate climate now, and recently found myself with copious amounts of strawberries to use, plus matcha powder and marzipan in the pantry! The planets had aligned :)
The cake is basically a sponge cake, split in half, filled with mousseline buttercream and strawberries, then topped with green tea flavoured marzipan.
The resulting cake looked fantastic and tasted great overall, but I have discovered a sad truth about myself. I do not like mousseline buttercream and don’t think I ever will. This is the third time I’ve tried making and eating it (all 3 tries with different recipes), and I always come to the same conclusion. Not sweet enough and tastes too much like eating butter. What is wrong with me? It’s not like I don’t like butter, give me savoury butter and a bread roll and stand back. Actually, forget the bread roll, just stand back. But alas mousseline bc, you and I are irrevocably incompatible.
Ah well, at least I had cake for my birthday, and not just any cake, fruity cake! Which means I get to send this to the Monthly Mingle hosted by one of my favourite bloggers - Deeba from Passionate about Baking this month. I’ve wanted to take part in this event created by Meeta of What’s for lunch, Honey? for ages, but never could find the time. Fortuitously (I do like my big words), after I made this cake, I discovered the theme for the month was “Fruit in Baking”.
I’ll share the sponge cake and assembly instructions with you, but use your favourite buttercream for the filling. I’m going to make this cake again but will use a stabilised whipped cream filling instead and omit the marzipan, maybe try some glaze instead. A word of advice, if making the cake ahead and planning to store in fridge, don’t put the marzipan layer on until the last minute because it sweats when taken out of the fridge.
Basic sponge cake
(adapted from Quick and Easy Small Cakes, by Kazuko Kawachi, translated by Yukiko Moriyama).
4 egg yolks
3 egg whites
90g caster sugar
40g plain flour
pinch of salt
1tbsp whipping cream (pure cream/pouring cream)
dash of vanilla extract
Buttercream and fresh strawberries to decorate
Marzipan (4oz) and 1 tsp green tea powder (knead together and set aside, covered. I used slightly more than 1 tsp)
Preheat oven to about 180˚C. Grease a baking pan and line with baking paper. The recipe calls for two sheets of baking paper but I used one and it worked fine. I used a lamington tin, which is rectangular and quite small.
Sift the flour and salt together. The recipe says 3 times but seriously? I just did it a couple of times I think. Sift the caster sugar too, separately from the flour though.
Beat egg yolks lightly then add 45g of the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until light and doubled in volume. It should fall from the beaters in a “ribbon”. In a separate bowl (make sure it’s dry and squeaky clean),beat the eggwhites until it holds peaks, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been incorporated and the whites are stiff and glossy.
Add a spoonful of the beaten whites to the beaten yolks to lighten, then fold the yolks into the whites. Add the vanilla extract, then sift the flour over the eggs and fold carefully (I used a plastic spatula), try not to knock any air out. When all the flour has been mixed in, drizzle the whipped cream in and fold to mix.
Scrape into prepared pan, smooth the top and tap pan on countertop to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake until golden (about10 minutes or so). When cooked and cool enough to handle, carefully slide cake out onto a wooden cutting board. Let it sit until warm to touch, then cover the cake with the baking pan and leave until completely cold (I think this step makes sure the sponge is moist).
To assemble, split the cake in half, spread the buttercream on it (reserve 1 tbsp for the top of cake), then arrange the washed, hulled and dried strawberries all over the cream, pushing in as you go.
Carefully layer the other half of cake on top, wrap the whole lot in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least half an hour).
Roll out the marzipan on some plastic wrap until large enough to cover cake. Spread the reserved buttercream over the top of the cake. Use the plastic wrap to pick the marzipan up, drape it over the cake, smooth it down then peel the plastic off. Trim edges then cut the cake into squares. I used a serrated knife which was handy to cut into the strawberries.
Have a great weekend and good luck with the giveaway!