I was asked to create & demonstrate an alternative Christmas Cake for the Wimbledon Pop Up. I envisioned a snowy ethereal mountain-side scene, something that evoked the mystery & glamour of winter without being too obvious or traditional.
The cake comprised of an orange sponge, cinnamon mousseline, blackberry forest, italian meringue snowscape & sugar glass work (sugar glass can be found in a previous post). This will seem like a lot of work, but give yourself a day and put the music on loud and you'll soon have the festive cake that will be the stand-out star of any Christmas feast.
Top Tip: Start the frosting the night before!
24g, melted unsalted butter
4 eggs & 2 egg yolks (save the whites for the Italian Meringue)
150g caster sugar
2 oranges, zested
Melt the butter and leave to cool on the side
Grease and line one 9inch cake tin.
Preheat your oven to 160c
Place the eggs & sugar in a mixing bowl and place over a bain marie, whisk using an electric hand mixer until very light and fluffy. This will take around 15 minutes. To check if the mix is ready, turn off the mixer, lift it out of the mix and trail some of the mix in a figure of 8. If the 8 stays for 2 seconds you are ready to go.
Take the mixing bowl off the heat, and whisk in the orange zest. Then fold in the flour carefully, then quickly fold through the butter. Pour into the tin and bake for 30minutes, or until a skewer comes out completely clean.
Leave to cool. Slice in half, and trim to the size you want.
250ml whole milk
5 large cinnamon sticks
50g egg yolks, save the whites for the Italian Meringue
60g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter (room temperature, should be very soft)
Place your milk & cinnamon sticks into a pan and warm over a low heat, leave for 30 minutes, the milk should taste VERY cinnamony, otherwise the butter later on will overpower the fragrance.
Crank the heat up and when the milk starts steaming add 1/2 the sugar. Lower the heat so the milk doesn't scald.
Place the eggs and the other half of the sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk using an electric hand whisk. This will take around 5 minutes, the egg mix should triple in size and become very velvety. Stir in the flour & cornflour and combine.
Remove the cinnamon from the milk and discard. Use a ladle to add some milk to the egg mix and stir until the egg milk become liquidy, then pour into the milk mix and whisk using a handheld mix over a medium heat. The mix will become very thick, taste it to ensure you have cooked out all the flour.
Transfer to a baking tray & place clingfilm directly onto the mix to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool. Once completely cooled place in a mixing bowl and gradually start adding the room temperature butter. If you do this too fast it will split/curdle- gross!
Once all the butter has been combined place onto the first sponge in a thick layer.
Dot the mousseline with blackberries and then place the second sponge on top. Put in the fridge for 2 hours until firmly set.
White Chocolate Cream
150g White Chocolate
150g Double Cream
300g Double Cream
Place the white chocolate over a bain marie and melt.
Place 150g Double cream into a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Once they are both the same temperature slowly pour the cream into the chocolate and stir to combine, keep adding- it may sometimes seem to seize but persevere and it will be fine!
Place in the fridge for 4 hours minimum- optimally overnight.
The next day, put the ganache into a mixing bowl with the rest of the double cream and whisk until a malleable consistency- don't overwhip it so it looks like buttercream, we want a soft ethereal consistency.
Using a pallette knife spread the frosting over the cake, trying to get the sides straight. Place the cake into the fridge between applications and you'll find it becomes firmer and easier to apply to.
120g egg whites, the ones leftover from your mousseline & cake mix
240g caster sugar
Combine your sugar with a touch of water in a pan, your sugar should look like ‘wet sand’.
Place over a medium heat (in a pan with a pouring lip) with a sugar thermometer attached.
Start whisking the egg whites, when the sugar has reached 116c slowly pour it into the egg whites and whisk until you have stiff peaks. It may be easier to ask someone to pour whilst you whisk- or you can place a tea towel under your bowl to prevent it slipping around. Just remember sugar burns hurt, so be careful.
Decorating The Cake
Using a small palette knife gently spoon the meringue onto the back half of your cake and shape to your desired effect. Using a blowtorch gently torch some of the flicks and curls.
Next get some crushed nuts, that have been toasted at 160c for 4 minutes in the oven, cover with glitter and lay at the base of your meringue snowscape.
Next brush silver glitter over your sugar glass and drop the slab on your table. It will shatter. Pick out the largest pieces and stick into your cake so that they look like silver snowy mountains.
Next place your blackberries on a piece of baking parchment, and gently dust them with edible gold dust. Rip small sprigs of rosemary leaves off the large rosemary sprig, and press them into the blackberries. Then place them onto the cake, tightly together to resemble a thick forest.
Finally, clean the bottom of the cake until its a smooth edge, and gently press some of the leftover crushed nuts into the bottom.
Paint some walnuts copper, and press them in a ring around the cake.
Eat your heart out Marie Antoinette!