My Birthday Cake

I can’t believe the last post I wrote was so long ago, how time flies! Being away from the blogging world for so long has made me rusty round the edges! To be honest I miss being connected to the world – it can feel lonely being isolated.

Tiramisu cake

Well.. A lot has happened and since I’ve decided not to dwell too much about the past, I will hence move forward and ignore this big time lapse. Although I don’t truly believe in new year resolutions – mainly because they are based on dieting and my birthday falls just right at the beginning of it! – I have made one conscious decision to find good reasons why people behave the way they do and most certainly not be judgmental. I hope friends and family would extend me the same courtesy.

My birthday certainly had a joyful start. The excitement of my daughters’ faces as they passed me the ‘newly arrived mail’ filled me with happiness – their thrilled expression utterly priceless. I am grateful for their precious existence and feel truly blessed to have them. 

Perfect BirthdayCute message

OK, back to the fun part and the birthday cake. Guess who bakes my cakes every year? Me! Why? Well, because I know exactly what I’m craving that particular year and what to put in my cake. Odd, I know, but it’s just how I like it. Although a nice surprise from a good baker or bakery would be happily received with open arms! 🙂

My previous birthday cakes were mainly coconut based, since I love coconut in almost every shape or form. However, my daughter’s squashed-up face of dreading another coconut cake (can’t get rid of last year’s disastrous experiment) made me move on to another favourite of mine; tiramisu. The combination of a light sponge, bitter coffee, creamy mascarpone and rich cocoa is sublime – a true Italian masterpiece. My version is always alcohol free as I always make some alterations, but this cake is almost gone in an instant every time I make it. Despite the creamy mascarpone, the cake is more’ishly light thanks to the feathery-fluffy sponge.

Since I’m studying nutrition now, I can give you a long list of rich nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in eggs, coffee and chocolate, but honestly with the fat and sugar content it’s not a healthy treat and dare I say not a good start to the new year! A birthday, enjoyed once a year is worthwhile this treat. Maybe that’s why I don’t like new year resolutions in January. It often occurs to me, “why not start in spring when nature is starting fresh and blooming?” 

sliced tiramisu cake

Tiramisu Cake – Made with Spelt Flour

For the Sponge:

  • 5 medium eggs, at room temperature
  • 150 g light brown sugar / light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil / or melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional (used to remove the ‘eggy’ smell from the cake)
  • 150 g white spelt flour / plain flour, sifted (sifting the flour makes a difference here trust me)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the coffee syrup:

  • 600 ml / about 2 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons dermerara / dark muscovado sugar (you can replace maple and dark sugar with 6 tablespoons of ordinary white sugar, but I think dark sugars give a rich distinct malty-molasses flavour)

For the mascarpone frosting:

  • 2 * 250g tubs mascarpone cheese
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • light soft brown sugar / icing sugar to taste (about 5-6 tablespoons)
  • 2-3 tablespoons coffee syrup 
  • Cocoa powder, for dusing
  • Dark Chocolate shavings *

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan-assisted, 180°C conventional. Grease 3 20-cm round cake tins with butter, sprinkle with flour, tapping and moving the pans to coat all the butter. 

Start off by making the coffee syrup. Place the coffee, maple syrup and sugar (or just ordinary sugar) in a heavy-based pan on a low-medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until a third to a half of the syrup is evaporated – 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the sponge – while the coffee syrup is reducing, using a free-standing mixer (or a hand-held electric beater), whip the cracked eggs and sugar in a large bowl until almost tripled in volume. The mixture should look like pale mousse. Add the vanilla, oil and lemon zest, if using, and beat for a minute or so more. 

Gently add the sifted flour and baking powder in 3 batches gently folding with a metal spoon or silicon spatula. DO NOT BEAT THE FLOUR, or you’ll loose all the air from the whipped eggs. Since this cake relies on the eggs for volume, you really want to be gentle when folding in the flour into the egg mixture, hence avoiding losing as much air as possible. 

Gently pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tins and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and feel springy when touched. Remove from the oven, stand for 5 minutes or so, and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. 

For the frosting, pour the cream in a bowl, and whip until soft peaks are formed, being careful not to overbeat it at this stage. In a separate bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese, sugar and cooled coffee syrup until smooth. Add the whipped cream, mix and taste. Adjust the sweetness to your liking, there’s no hard rule here. I think 5-6 tablespoons of sugar is just about enough, but add more if you like it sweeter. 

For assembling the cake, place one layer of sponge on a dish, prick with a fork and gently add the coffee syrup, making sure it reaches every corner. Smother a generous helping of mascarpone frosting and spread leveling any uneven bumps. Repeat the process for the other two sponges and finally spread the frosting on top and the side of the cake for an even smooth finish. 

Dust with cocoa powder and sprinkle with a generous quantity of chocolate shavings. Serve with yet more coffee for a wonderfully special treat. Tea would be great too! Enjoy!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

chocolate shavings

* For the chocolate shavings: 

  • Melt some dark chocolate in a small bowl, in 20 – 30 second bursts in the microwave to be quick. Mix until the chocolate is melted. 
  • Spread the melted chocolate on your work surface (granite, marble or any ‘cold’ surface will do), smoothing the chocolate with a back of a spoon.
  • Let cool for about 20 minutes.
  • Using a large, sharp, smooth knife, gently move the knife across the surface at a slant angle, curling the chocolate as it’s lifted off the surface. Don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time, it will get easier as you go along. 
  • Continue until all the chocolate is used up. Store in a cool dry place if not using immediately. 

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