Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Over the weekend, my daughter turned 13. Yup, officially a teen! :) Needless to say, it was a milestone, both for her and for me. It's not everyday your child goes from "kid" to "teen", so of course I made a big deal out of it. :)
For a start, I asked her what cake she'd like.
"Nothing in particular," she replied. "Actually, I don't need one."
Spoken like a true teen already. Oh, I know, I know! Birthday cake requests are made by little kids, aren't they? Teens don't need birthday cakes! They celebrate their birthdays with their fellow teens, at the mall, over pizza and soda, and then catch a movie. That kind of cool stuff, right? ;)
But I would not take no for an answer, and so we compromised. She'll celebrate her birthday with her friends at the mall, then watch The Hunger Games (which, in her words was "mega awesome"), BUT there will be cake and a nice French dinner with her mother (yes, that would be me).
After we agreed on that arrangement, I had to decide what cake to bake. I knew it would not be a chocolate cake. My older son - the chocoholic - will turn 7 next week, and I'll definitely be baking him a chocolate cake. So, I decided on something feminine, like a Japanese Strawberry Shortcake. And she LOVED it. In fact, she ended up polishing off two-thirds of the cake all by herself!
Me: "The cake is good? You like it?"
Daughter: *nods and continues eating*
Me: "Aren't you glad I insisted on baking you a cake?"
Daughter: *nods and looks slightly sheepish*
Me: "Do you know the moral of the story?"
Me: "Always listen to your mother!"
(minor alterations from Daily Delicious)
Making the génoise
- 3 eggs
- 90g caster sugar
- 90g cake flour (sifted)
- 20g unsalted butter (melted)
- 20ml fresh milk
Note: In all honesty, I will tweak this génoise recipe if I make this cake again. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I like the really soft, airy, moist type of sponge base. If you have eaten the cakes at Canele Pâtisserie or Tampopo Deli, you will know what I mean. But like I said, there is nothing wrong with this recipe.
Making the syrup
- 80g regular sugar
- 100ml water
- 10ml (2 tsp) liqueur (like rum or pure vanilla extract)
Note: I used 60g sugar + 80ml water + 1tsp vanilla extract and it was more than enough.
Making the whipped cream
- 400ml dairy whipping cream (minimum 35% fat)
- 40g icing sugar
1. Make the syrup by gently simmering the sugar and water in a saucepan. Let it cool to room temperature. When cooled, add the liqueur or pure vanilla extract.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line and grease an 18cm round cake tin with baking paper.
3. Beat the eggs until frothy, then gradually add in the sugar and continue beating until ribbon stage.
* The mixture should be very pale in colour, very thick, and tripled in volume. If you get this part wrong, you can kiss your cake goodbye because it will not rise (as there are no leavening agents used).
4. Take 3/4 cup of the egg mixture and mix it with the melted butter (let's call this Mixture A).
5. Sift the flour into the remaining egg mixture, fold gently to combine (let's call this Mixture B).
6. Pour Mixture A into Mixture B and fold gently, followed by the milk. Fold until combined.
* Make sure you fold gently so as to minimise deflating the precious air bubbles in the batter.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
8. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
* I tented the cake to prevent the top from burning.
9. When finished, let the cake cool to the room temperature before filling the cake.
* I baked the cake 1 day ahead and left it at room temperature.
Assembling the cake
1. Have 1 punnet of strawberries ready. The number of strawberries you use is dependent on what type (Korean varieties tend to be smaller than American ones), and how many you want to have in your cake. It's really up to you. Remove the leaves and cut the strawberries into halves. Some people use whole strawberries even!
2. Pour the cold whipping cream into a bowl and add the icing sugar. Whip until it forms medium stiff peaks.
3. Slice génoise into 2 or 3 layers (your preference).
4. Brush each layer with the syrup. This is important because the génoise will be very dry if you skip this.
5. Place the strawberry halves and cover the surface area of each layer. Pour/spread the whipped cream over the strawberries, burying them in the process. Put on the next layer and repeat.
6. Finally frost the entire cake with cream and top with strawberries. Chill the cake well before slicing/serving.
* Note that as this is fresh cream, you can't keep it out at room temperature for long because it will melt. And yes, it was a nightmare frosting the cake in tropical weather! So work fast! :)
PS: In case you are wondering why there are no "inside" shots of the cake, it's because I didn't bother to. You know how it's like with birthday cakes - once the wish is made and the candles are blown out, the cake would literally be chopped up and unceremoniously plonked onto plates for serving. At the same time, there would be little hands helping themselves to the garnishing (in this case, all 3 strawberries were plucked off the cake as I was doing the cutting). So yeah. No point showing everyone the gruesome details. ;) In fact, come to think of it, I have never seen a beautiful slice of birthday cake at any party I have ever attended!