Tuesday, May 19, 2009
How to make a typical Danish sponge cake
In Denmark the sponge cake is the most popular cake for any celebration. Especially for birthdays. It most often consist of 3 vanilla sponge layers sandwiched with pastry cream, jam, fruit and then covered in glaze and whipped cream. Other common fillings are whipped cream mixed with fruit, mousses and bavarois type fillings. The cake I am going to demonstrate here was made for my fathers birthday last weekend. It consists of chocolate sponge layers with an easy strawberry mousse, decorated with glaze and creme chantilly.
The sponge can be a little tricky. It is leavened only by the eggs, which makes it very important to FOLD the ingredients, never stir or beat. Overmixing will flatten your dough. Eggs must be room temperature to hold the largest volume possible. The butter must be cooled, or it will flatten the dough. And always, always sift the flour and cocoa. This will aerate the flour and help making the cake light. The sponge layers are quite dry and thin compared to your typical butter cake. Only ½ inch tall. This type of sponge cake should always be made a day ahead to give the filling time to soak the layers. This is what makes it so delicious.
The cake is very light, so it only serves 12.
Makes one 8" cake to serve 12
4 large eggs (250 grams egg in total)
165 grams sugar
120 grams flour
30 grams cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
60 grams melted, cooled butter
Start by melting and cooling the butter. Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F). Prepare an 8" round pan by brushing it with melted butter. Use a springform with removable bottom. This will help you assemble the cake later on.
Beat eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for several minutes until sugar is completely dissolved and a thick mousse has formed. When you drop a ribbon of batter from the beaters, it should be visible for about 30 seconds. This is very important!
Add the sifted flour and cocoa in 3 parts and gently fold into the eggs. Use a large slotted spoon or a large whisk for this, taking care not to overmix and deflate the batter. Add the butter with the last flour.
Immediatly pour into the pan and bake for about 35 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not open the oven door the first 20 minutes, or your cake might fall. Test with a toothpick to see if its done, and let it cool a bit in the pan before flipping it out on a rack to cool completely.
While it cools, you can make the strawberry mousse.
500 grams strawberries (frozen, thawed strawberries are best)
100 grams sugar
½ vanilla bean
4 gelatin sheets
250 ml heavy cream
Heat the strawberries, the sugar and the vanilla bean gently in a saucepan. Let it simmer until the berries are mushy, about 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the pan. With an immersion blender, puree the strawberries. Remove from heat.
Soak the gelatin sheets for around 10 minutes and shake off excess water. Melt the sheets in the warm strawberry puree. Stir until they have melted completely and let the puree cool to room temp. Put it in the fridge for faster cooling, but be careful that it doesn't set.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the strawberries. The mousse is ready to fill into the cake now.
With a large serrated knife, split the sponge into 3 thin layers (about ½ inch). Put the bottom layer into the springform. The cake will be assembled upside down. Spread half the strawberry filling on top of the cake. Add another layer and spread the other half of the filling on top of it. Top with the third and last layer. Make sure the cake is level. Wrap everything in plastic wrap and refridgerate overnight or at least 5 hours. The gelatin will set and make the cake stable.
Take the cake out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Run a spatula along the edge to loosen the cake from the springform. Place a cake board on top and flip the whole thing over. Don't worry, this cake is light as a feather. Remove the springform and you now have a perfect sponge cake. Unfortunately the filling smeared a bit and is hiding the middle layer on the photo, but if you look closely you can see it's there.
For the glaze mix 1 eggwhite with as much powdered sugar as it takes to make a thick glaze. It should be runny enough to flatten in about 10 seconds, but not so runny that you can see the cake through it. Thin with water if needed.
If you have a favorite cookie glaze, by all means use it. It's the same thing.
Take a few tablespoons of the glaze and tint it red. Put it in a piping bag with a #3 tip. Spread the white glaze over the top of the cake. With the red glaze, pipe a spiral on top. It should flatten out and "merge" with the white glaze if you have the right consistency.
To make the spiderweb pattern: Mark 10 or 12 points on the cake. Draw lines with a knife from the edge to the middle. Between these lines, drag the knife from the middle to the edge. Easy!
Beat 100 ml heavy cream with 2 tbsp powdered sugar and a bit of vanilla to make creme chantilly. Put it in a piping bag with a 1M star tip and pipe large rosettes all the way around the edge. Place a rosette in the middle. The cake is now ready to eat.
It is highly perishable and must be kept in the fridge, where it will last 2 days max.
*note-Gourmet Sleuth has a great grams conversion calculator.
Source for gelatine sheets
("Silver" grade clear leaf gelatin sheets from Germany. approximately 3" x 8". 3-4 sheets are equivalent to 1 envelope of Knox brand gelatin. --source-Gourmet Sleuth)
Tutorial and Photography by Sif Jensen- all rights reserved 2009
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