At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

little chocolate sponges. :)


No matter what the time of year or the occasion, cakes are just never going to go out of fashion…everyone loves them, and the hundreds of different varieties and flavours out there mean that making your own cakes is rewarding, exciting, and an immense joy in itself. But I’ve often found, especially recently what with my sis and bro not being here, that sometimes making a big cake is just not economical...and what could be possibly worse, than having to throw away ANY of your lovingly-made, formally yummy gateau, due to sogginess, staleness, or cream-gone-past-its-sell-by-date-ness, etc. But there are ways around this dilemma of course. Cupcakes and buns being the most obvious answer. Though I am quite proud of these little creations of mine: for they are, quite literally, miniature versions of the wonderful, classical sponge cake. A light chocolate sponge sandwiched together with creamy vanilla buttercream, and then topped with milk chocolate ganache...but they're only about the size of a teacup, and irresistibly cute too may I add. :)

For the chocolate sponge. J
·         110 g margarine/butter, softened
·         110 g caster sugar
·          2 large eggs
·         Few drops milk/cream
·         25 g cocoa powder
·         90 g self-raising flour
For the filling/icing.
·         100 g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
·         60 ml single cream, plus a little extra for the buttercream
·         110 g icing sugar
·         50 g butter, softened
·         ½ tsp vanilla essence/extract
·         Extra icing sugar for dusting
Method. J
1.      For the chocolate sponge: Preheat oven to 180 c/fan 160c. Grease and line a Swiss roll tin (mine measures about 25cm x 36cm, and is about 2 cm deep) with baking paper.
2.      Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl and add the eggs, flour, caster sugar, and the softened margarine/butter. Beat well with an electric food mixer for about 2-3 minutes until smooth and well-blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula or large metal spoon halfway through the mixing so that it’s all nicely incorporated.:)
3.      Scoop up a spoonful of the mixture with your spoon and let it fall back into the bowl; it should be of a nice soft dropping consistency and slide easily back off the utensil into the bowl. Add a few drops of milk or cream to achieve this if it’s not quite right. J
4.      Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out with your spoon evenly. Smooth the top with the back of the spoon. Place in the oven and bake for 10 -15 minutes. The cooked cake should be risen and spongey to the touch; it should spring back beneath your fingertip when lightly pressed.
5.      Wait for about a minute, then gently tip the sponge out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool, peeling off the paper when it’s out the tin. Leave to cool completely.
6.      When the sponge is cold, gently move it onto a clean work surface. Use a  8cm pastry cutter to stamp out neat circles. Try and do this so that you have an even number of circles and that as little sponge as possible is wasted.
7.      Make the milk choc ganache next: gently heat the 60 ml single cream in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. As soon as the bubbles appear remove from the heat and add the broken up milk chocolate. Leave for about 5 minutes and then stir together until smooth.
8.      Chill the ganache for about an hour until it is of a nice spreadable consistency.
9.      Make the vanilla buttercream: beat the butter in a big bowl until very soft, then add the icing sugar, the vanilla and a few drops of cream/milk. Continue to beat until you have a spreadable icing.
Using a piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle, cover half of the sponge circles with swirls of buttercream. Reserve a little though for decoration. Top with the remaining sponge circles.
Spread the milk chocolate ganache neatly over the tops of the cakes.
Pipe around the edges of the tops of the cakes and then dust with icing sugar for a pretty finish.
Note. Of course, feel free to use different fillings/icings then the ones I used above. You might like to fill them with jam or whipped cream perhaps, and sprinkle on some granulated sugar on top; or fill and top them with white, dark or milk chocolate ganache, or chocolate buttercream... well as I said so before, when it comes to cake-baking, there are endless possibilities. And even if you are making cakes of much smaller dimensions, that doesn't mean that the your decorating/icing options have shrunk as well after all. ;)

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