Happy World Baking Day!!
It may be gloomy and cloudy outside but I’ve got my coffee, ginger nut biscuits and more importantly, an angelic sleeping six-week old baby, which means I have just about an hour and a half tops of ‘me time’ – yay!
I suppose I should be sleeping too when my son naps, instead I find myself spending any spare time after house chores scrolling through Instagram photos or old recipes from my food blogging days in 2011/12. I came across this oldie but goodie recipe for a delicious chocolate Victoria sponge and luscious raspberry Italian meringue buttercream and thought what better way to hail ‘World Baking Day’ than to share a tried, tested and loved recipe with you!
I use a basic Victoria sponge with a cocoa powder substitution for a light chocolate sponge and it pairs beautifully with Italian meringue buttercream, particularly this one made with homemade raspberry jam. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
200g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp chocolate extract
180g self-raising flour
20g cocoa powder
Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin. Preheat your oven to 180˚C.
Cream the butter and caster sugar on high speed until the mix is pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs (one by one) ensuring that each addition is well incorporated into the batter before adding the next.
Sift the cocoa powder and flour. Gently fold by hand, half of the flour and cocoa powder into the creamed butter and sugar. Repeat with the remaining flour and cocoa powder. Gently pour the cake batter into your prepared tin; avoid dumping the batter into the cake tin from a great height as you may risk knocking air out of the batter in the process.
Set your cake tin on the centre rack and bake for 40 minutes. To test whether the cake is done, poke a cocktail stick or small sharp knife into the centre of the cake. When you pull it out, the knife or stick should come out clean. If there is moisture, or wet bits of batter, your cake needs another few minutes. I usually give it another 5 minutes and do the test again.
Once done, leave the cake to cool for a few minutes then invert it onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Divide the cake into 3 layers and set aside.
125g frozen raspberries, defrosted
3 tbsp jam sugar (caster will also work)
Into a heavy based milk pan, add the raspberries and jam sugar. Jam sugar contains pectin and therefore helps the jam thicken. If you don’t have any at hand, caster sugar will still work perfectly well. The only difference is that it will take a slightly longer time to cook the jam to a thick, sticky stage (at least 108°C). You are looking for a thick jam as this will be added to the buttercream later. Set the jam aside in a bowl cling filmed to cool.
250g caster sugar
125g egg whites, at room temperature
250g unsalted butter, cubed to soften
Into the mixing bowl, add the egg whites. Do not whisk them yet.
Add water to a heavy based milk pan. Tip in the caster sugar and stir gently so that the sugars do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep a pastry brush close by, in a cup of water. Have the heat on medium high, and as the liquid boils brush down any signs of sugar crystals that appear on the sides of the pan.
Once the liquid begins to boil vigorously, test it with a digital or sugar thermometer. Italian meringue is made by adding to frothy egg whites, sugar that has been boiled to a ‘soft ball’ sugar stage. The temperature of a ‘soft ball’ range between 116˚C (softer ‘soft ball’) to 122˚C (stronger ‘soft ball’). Bear in mind that the sugar will continue to cook even when you take it off the stove.
When the thermometer registers between 110˚C and 112˚C, start whisking your egg whites on high until it is frothy with tighter air bubbles. Reduce the speed down to the lowest setting; never turn off the mixer as the egg whites will begin to deflate.
Take the sugar syrup off the heat at 118˚C or 119˚C, and immediately pour it down the side of the bowl in a slow but steady stream. Look for the point just before where the frothy egg whites touch the bowl, and aim to pour the sugar down that spot. Where the sugar hits the bowl it will stick and set, and if it hits the whisk you will end up with spun sugar all around the sides of your mixing bowl.
Once you have added all of the sugar syrup, turn the mixer on high and continue to whisk until the base of the bowl has cooled down to room temperature when you touch it. Stop the mixer, and lift the whisk to check the texture of your meringue is a firm peak.
At this point you may choose to swap to a paddle attachment. I have found that both whisks and paddle attachments work. The key to remember is that whisks are used to incorporate air into a mixture. With buttercream, too much air in the mixture can mean that you end up with a cream that leaves pockets of holes as you ice the cake.
Beat or whisk in the soft butter gradually. Mix in the raspberry jam once you have blended all of the butter into the meringue. Continue to whip the buttercream until it is smooth and glossy; and there you have it – raspberry Italian meringue buttercream!
Assembling the cake
Spread raspberry buttercream on the base layer to a thickness of about 5mm. Repeat with another layer of sponge and buttercream, finishing with the base of the cake so that you have a flat surface on the top. Add a layer of crumb coating, which is a thin layer of buttercream to cover the entire cake and leave to set in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
Once the cake has firmed up a little, spread a smooth layer of buttercream to cover the entire cake. Transfer the leftover buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1M nozzle for the rosettes and finish with a generous border of chocolate rice around the base of the cake. Enjoy with a cuppa! xx