Why not say ‘I love you’ with something delicious? It could be for your mum, your godmother, or the mother-figure in your life — I mean, who doesn’t love a home-baked cake?
A classic Swiss roll can be hard to beat. Fill it with raspberry jam; salted caramel sauce and bananas; lemon curd and cream, or even poached rhubarb. It’s simple to do, and a nice thing for a mother and child to do together — it’s a favourite of mine and Scarlett’s. Sometimes the simplest things are just the best: a freshly baked cake, with a cup of tea — that’s what I adore.
Or if the mamma in your life loves a drizzle cake, then I recommend this version, far right, which has a summery-tasting elderflower syrup poured over the top. Let’s face it, we can always do with some more summer in our lives.
For the more ambitious bakers, I’ve included a recipe, also below, for a chocolate mousse layer cake. It’s four layers of chocolate sponge sandwiched together with a rich, but light, chocolate mousse. This deeply luxurious cake is ideal for any celebration.
To add even more va-va-voom, I recommend decorating the cake with chocolate curls. To make them, carefully pour 250g of melted chocolate (milk, dark or white) onto the surface of an upside-down flat baking tray so that the chocolate is about ½cm thick. Leave the tray of chocolate somewhere cool to allow it to set — don’t put it in the fridge, though; it’s too cold.
Run a cheese slicer along the top of the set chocolate, shaving off curls as you do so. Put the curls directly on the cake, or store them in an airtight box for another day.
When you are baking a cake, don’t forget to reduce the oven temperature by 10pc if you’re using the fan mode, and remember that the cake might take a couple of minutes less to bake than if you were using a conventional oven.
You will need:
100g butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
300g caster sugar
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting the tin
75g cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract For the mousse, you will need:
275g dark chocolate, in drops or broken into pieces
6 eggs, separated
175g butter, softened
2 tablespoons rum, brandy, whiskey or orange liqueur, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 You will also need two 23cm-diameter cake tins with sides that are a minimum of 6cm deep. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. Butter the sides of the cake tins and dust them with flour, then line the base of each tin with a disc of baking parchment.
2 To make the sponge, first melt the butter and set it aside for a few minutes to cool until it is tepid. Put the eggs and the caster sugar in a large bowl or an electric food mixer. Using an electric hand-held beater or the food mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar for 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture is light and thick. To test if it’s thick enough, lift the whisk out of the mixture and draw a figure of eight in the bowl with the batter that’s left on the whisk: the ‘8’ should remain visible on the surface of the batter for a couple of seconds.
3 Sift in the plain flour, the cocoa powder, the baking powder and the salt, and fold them in gently but thoroughly, then pour in the vanilla extract and the cooled melted butter, and fold them in.
4 Before it has a chance to lose any volume, quickly divide the batter between the prepared cake tins, then bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the mixture springs back when it is lightly pressed with a finger, and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.
5 Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow them to cool in the tins for five minutes. Use a small, sharp knife to loosen around the edges of each tin, and carefully remove each cake, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
6 While the cakes are cooking or cooling, make the chocolate mousse. Put the dark chocolate drops or pieces, whichever you’re using, in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of water. Bring the water up to the boil, then turn off the heat, and allow the chocolate to melt nice and slowly.
7 Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then beat in teaspoon-sized pieces of the softened butter. Now add the rum, brandy, whiskey or orange liqueur, or vanilla extract, whichever you’re using, and keep beating until the mixture is smooth. Set it aside to cool while you whisk the egg whites.
8 In a spotlessly clean bowl or using the food mixer (having cleaned and dried the bowl and whisk), whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the cooled chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the rest until they are just combined, but the mousse mixture is still light. Set the mousse aside and leave it to cool at room temperature - not in the fridge, as the mousse will harden and become difficult to spread.
9 To assemble the cake, use a bread knife to carefully slice each cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom half of one of the cakes, cut-side up, on a plate or cake stand. Spread a ½cm-thick layer of mousse on the cake, then sandwich the other half of the cake on top, placing it cut-side down. Spread over more of the mousse, just as thickly, then sandwich the bottom half of the second cake on top, cut-side up. Repeat, until you have four layers of cake sandwiched together with three layers of mousse. Cover the top and sides of the assembled cake with the remaining mousse, smoothing it with a palette knife. Place the cake on a large plate to serve. If you have chocolate curls (see Rachel Recommends, left) decorate the cake with these and dust it with icing sugar, or some crystallised primroses (see In Season, left).
You will need:
A little melted butter for preparing the tin
125g caster sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g plain flour For the filling, you will need:
4-6 tablespoons raspberry jam
1 You will also need a 25cm x 38cm Swiss roll tin. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, Gas 5. Brush the base and sides of the tin with the melted butter, then line it with baking parchment.
2 Whisk the eggs, the 125g of caster sugar and the vanilla extract together in a large bowl, or in an electric food mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3 Sift the plain flour, about one-third at a time, into the mixture in the bowl, folding it in using a large spatula, making sure that there are no lumps of flour left.
4 Pour the cake mixture gently into the prepared Swiss roll tin, spreading it evenly. Bake it in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the centre of the cake is slightly springy and the edges have shrunk away a little from the sides of the tin.
5 Sprinkle the top of the sponge with a little caster sugar - this will stop it sticking to the baking parchment. Next, using a piece of baking parchment that is larger than the Swiss roll tin, place it over the top of the cake, and, in one quick movement, turn the cake out on to the baking parchment. Remove the tin, and also peel the baking parchment from the bottom of the cake.
6 While the cake is still warm, spread it with the raspberry jam. With the longest side of the Swiss roll facing you, roll it up by carefully rolling the cake away from you, then transfer it to a plate and sprinkle it with a little more of the caster sugar.
You will need:
175g soft butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
A little plain flour for dusting the tin
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, preferably free-range
175g self-raising flour
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon For the lemon and elderflower drizzle, you will need:
Juice of half a lemon
1-2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
50g caster sugar
1 You will also need a 2-3cm-deep, 20cm cake tin or springform tin, buttered and floured around the sides, and the base lined with a disc of baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4.
2 Put the soft butter, the caster sugar, the eggs, the self-raising flour and the lemon zest into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate (don’t whizz for any longer, or the cake will be dry), then turn the mixture into the prepared tin.
3 Use the back of a tablespoon to make a slight dip in the centre of the cake, so that it rises evenly. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until it is golden brown and risen. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
4 While the cake is baking, make the drizzle syrup. Add the lemon juice to a jug, along with the elderflower cordial and the caster sugar, and stir to mix.
5 When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and drizzle the syrup over the top while the cake is still warm. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then take it out and place it on a cake stand or a plate to serve.
I love using the pale-lemon primroses that are growing now as pretty cake decorations. They are completely edible, and can be crystallised by brushing them with slightly whisked egg white, then giving them a good dusting of caster sugar, before placing them on parchment paper to dry. Once dry, they can be stored in an airtight box for a week.
If you want to put cream in the Swiss roll, wait until the cake has cooled. First, place a sheet of baking parchment on the cake once it’s turned out of the tin, then, while it is still warm, roll it with the baking paper still on top, then wrap it in a clean towel and let it cool. Once it is cool, unroll it, then spread the jam and cream over it and roll it up again. This will stop it cracking.
Photography by Tony Gavin
Sunday Indo Life Magazine