Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Spring Takes The Cake
It's been a long, dreary winter. Here in the Pacific Northwest sightings of the sun have been few and far between. Many people are affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and become depressed and morose. I just get SOTSER (Sick Of The Stinking Endless Rain), which has essentially the same effect. What a lift it is to the spirits when finally the signs of spring start popping up! Birds have returned from their condos in Phoenix to serenade me in the morning. Tulips and daffodils wave their cheerful colors in counterpoint to the grey skies. And strawberries are back in the stores. Hooray!
What better way to celebrate the return of spring than to make a cake? Spring is perfect for baking as there are beautiful, fresh ingredients available and it's not so hot that you dread turning on the oven.
This cake is unique in that the cake layer and the meringue layer topping it are baked together. Then the layers are piled with cream cheese filling and strawberries. Plus, as a bonus, you end up with 5 egg yolks - ice cream time! Whether you're looking for a special dessert for Mother's Day or just want an excuse pick up a flat of strawberries, you won't regret trying this cake. Not too filling, not too sweet, not too fussy - just right.
Blitz Torte With Strawberries and Cream
- adapted from Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too by Susan Purdy
1-1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large egg whites
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp superfine sugar, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds (I used toasted, slivered almonds, coarsely chopped)
Vanilla Cream Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, drained in a strainer for 15 minutes (I used plain whole milk yogurt, and added an extra bit of vanilla and sugar)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp almond or hazelnut liqueur
3 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, dried, and sliced
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1- Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 deg. F. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray, line the pans with parchment paper, and spray the paper. Dust the pans with flour and tap out the excess flour.
2- Prepare the cake batter: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of wax paper or into a bowl. Set aside.
3- In a small saucepan, heat the milk to just below a simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool until tepid.
4- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolk and vanilla and almond extracts until blended. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until light in color. Scrape down the bowl and beaters. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm milk. Increase the speed to medium and whip until the sugar is completely dissolved. Scrape down the bowl and beaters.
5- In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until the whites are stiff but not dry. Fold about one third of the whipped whites into the egg yolk mixture. Then alternately fold in the flour mixture and the remaining whites. Divide the batter equally between the prepared baking pans and smooth the tops. Set aside.
6- Prepare the meringue layer: In a clean bowl, using the electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add the 1 cup sugar and whip until the whites are stiff but not dry.
7- Divide the meringue between the cake pans, spreading it evenly over the cake batter. Combine the cinnamon and the remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar and sprinkle it over the meringue layers. Then sprinkle the sliced almonds over each layer. Baker for about 30 minutes, until the meringue top is ivory-colored and crisp to the touch.
8- Cool the layers in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Run a knife blade between the cakes and the sides of the pans, top each layer with a plate covered with foil or plastic wrap, and invert. Remove the pans and papers, invert the layers again onto racks, and cool completely.
9- Prepare the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a mixer or a food processor and process until completely smooth. Refrigerate until needed.
10- To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer, meringue side down on a flat plate. Brush the almond or hazelnut liqueur over the cake. Spread the cream filling on top, then cover it with a generous layer of sliced strawberries. Add the second layer, meringue side up. Refrigerate until serving time. Place the remaining berries in a bowl, sprinkle them with the sugar and toss lightly.
11- To serve, place a spoonful of berries alongside each slice of cake.
I added a dollop of whipped cream to the top to pretty it up.