Cake lovers will be pleased to hear that covering cakes with sugarpaste is old hat.
Rather than rolling out giant circles of sugar paste and fretting about tearing and cracking, en vogue is covering cakes in buttercream or ganache.
The bad news is that covering a cake immaculately in buttercream or ganache isn’t any easier than sugarpaste.
Unless you’re Peggy Porschen.
I watched Peggy demonstrate how she smooths buttercream onto sponge cake at this year’s Squires Sugarcraft Show in Surrey where she was promoting her new book Boutique Baking. Like all professionals, she made it look very simple, I found it a lot trickier at home!
It’s down to wrist technique, Peggy was giving the knife a gentle wave as she moved around the cake. I need a bit more practice. Definitely a cake turntable helps.
A couple of cakes caught my eye in Peggy’s new book Boutique Baking – Kelly at American Cupcake in London had pipped me at the post to do the limoncello layer cake so today I present the white chocolate passion cake.
Technically mine isn’t passion cake, I didn’t have passionfruit jam or curd so I used apricot. But it is definitely a cake to be passionate about.
I was concerned making it as the batter seemed so liquid, but fear not the white chocolate helps it firm up. It has a moist crumb texture and definitely tastes of white chocolate.
Hazard number two was piping with white chocolate ganache. First it’s too hard then it goes soft in your hands through the piping bag. You have to work deftly and confidently to get all the way round.
I was also worried I’d not have enough ganache to both cover the cake and do the piping. It’s a bit tight but there is just enough if you are careful. Probably I’d be happier with slightly more ganache so I could cover the cake more thickly but I just about managed it.
Another thing to watch out for is that the bobbles of white chocolate piped around the base of the cake stuck to my cardboard cake lifter! I would pipe these on in situe next time.
My favourite thing about this cake is the size. It is uses three 6 inch tins which yes, I had to invest in because usually I make 7 or 8 inch cakes. It’s a really elegant size for a three layer cake, not too big, not too small. So I’ll definitely be getting more use out of these tins.
Have you ever tried getting a smooth covering on a buttercream cake? How did you find it?
Recipe: Peggy Porschen White Chocolate Passion Cake
For the cake mix
125g white chocolate, chopped or in buttons
60g soft light brown sugar
225g caster sugar
105g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
215g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
For the chocolate buttercream
50ml whipping cream
65g white chocolate, chopped or in buttons
55g unsalted butter, softened
55g icing sugar, sifted
For the filling
2 tbsp Peggy’s Passionfruit Jam or any other good quality passionfruit jam
Basic baking kit
3 x 15cm (6in) round sandwich tins
Cake leveller or large serrated knife
Flat disc to place on top of the turntable
(Peggy uses the loose base of a 30cm (12in) springform cake tin)
15cm (6in) cake card
Metal side scraper
Plastic piping bag
Plain round 4mm piping nozzle
Bake the sponges one day ahead of serving. Prepare the buttercream filling and assemble and decorate the cake on the day of serving.
Preheat the oven to 160c/ gas mark 3.
Prepare the sandwich tins by greasing and lining them with greaseproof paper.
To make the cake
Place the white chocolate, milk, light brown sugar and 85g of the caster sugar in a deep saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring with a spatula.
Place the butter and the remaining caster sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy.
Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and slowly add the butter mixture while whisking quickly.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the butter mixture in two batches. Mix together at a slow speed until the batter is just combined.
Slowly pour the hot chocolate mix into the batter in a thin and steady stream, mixing at a medium speed. Scrap the bottom of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure the batter is well combined.
Immediately pour the sponge mix into the lined cake tins, dividing the batter evenly. If you find it difficult to measure by eye, use your kitchen scales to weigh out the amount of cake mixture for each tin.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. If you are using deeper cake tins, the sponges will take longer to cook. The sponges are cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tins and the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or wooden skewer into the centre of each sponge, it should come out clean.
Once the sponges are baked, let them rest for about 30 minutes outside of the oven. Once just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tin, remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and then rest it overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed in and the sponges firm up to the perfect texture for trimming and layering. When trimmed too soon after baking, the sponges tend to crumble and may even break into pieces.
To make the chocolate buttercream
Place the cream in a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Place the white chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Whisk together until smooth. Once combined, leave to set at room temperature; the white chocolate ganache should have the consistency of very soft butter.
Place the butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. One spoonful at a time, add the white chocolate ganache to the mixture and stir through until combined.
To assemble the cake
Trim and sandwich together the three sponge layers using the passionfruit jam. Reserve one tablespoon of the chocolate buttercream for the piped decoration, then with the remaining buttercream, cover or mask the top and sides of the cake. (More detailed instructions how to do this are in the book) Chill until set.
Place the cake either on a cakestand or on top of the turntable covered with a piece of greaseproof paper.
Place a round nozzle into a plastic piping bag and fill with the remaining buttercream. Divide the top of the cake into 12 equal segments. At the top edge pipe a series of double swags (I managed a less elegant single swag!!) all round the sides, revolving the turntable as necessary. To finish, pipe dots on top of the swag joints and pipe a row of dots all around the bottom edge of the cake. (More detailed instructions on this are elsewhere in the book). If the cake has been placed on greaseproof paper, chill until the piped dots are set before transferring to a cakestand.
Serve the cake at room temperature. This cake is best enjoyed within 3 days of baking, but it can last up to 1 week.
Recipe reproduced with permission. With thanks to Quadrille for review copy.
Up until 15th July I am giving away three copies of Boutique Baking so hop on through if you would like to win a copy. (EU entrants only).