Andrew, who shared my corner of the office at my recently-ended secondment, asked me in January to make him a martini cake. He was going to provide Millers gin for me to incorporate into a cake, but asked me to leave it until the end of January while he was on a special diet. Well, the diet continued, and I was asked to delay it until the end of February, then the end of March, and finally until his birthday in April. However, it eventuated that I was not going to be there for his birthday, so I made it this week and brought it to the office on my last day.
Now, the brief of a martini cake was very loose indeed, so I searched the Web for a recipe that satisfied the criteria and which I liked the sound of. After a few aborted searches, Celina Bean came to the rescue with a recipe for Pomegranate Martini Cake by Holly Storm of Cardonas in Albany, New York.
If you visit the original recipe you will see that it makes enough for 3 cakes and 2 lots of filling, so I downsized the recipe for one completed cake. I also substituted the marmalade for blackberry jam, the pomegranate juice for cranberry juice and the vodka for gin (Andrew never came forward with the Millers, so I used Bombay Sapphire), and I left out the orange segments as the orange that I had purchased was very dry - and besides, I had already subbed out the marmalade because I didn't have any.
This cake tasted absolutely delicious, and got rave reviews, even though Andrew decided that we should eat it at 8.30am! The pastry cream filling balanced well with the other components of the cake, and the pomegranate seeds gave the cake some marvellous texture and crunch.
The converted, modified recipe for this martini cake is as follows:
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
50ml ice water
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup cranberry juice
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
To assemble the cake:
Marmalade or berry jam
300ml heavy cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
seeds from 1 pomegranate
To make the sponge cake:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Spray a 10 inch springform pan with oil, line the base with baking paper, then spray the paper with oil.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and set aside.
Place the egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment until thick and pale and they form a "ribbon" when the paddle attachment is lifted out.
Gradually beat in the sugar and ice water, then on low speed, mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
In a separate bowl, beat together the egg whites together until they form stiff peaks, then add the vanilla and the salt and combine.
Fold the egg whites carefully into the other batter, being careful not to lose volume. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the syrup:
Combine the sugar, water and juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the gin. Allow the syrup to cool completely before use.
To make the pastry cream:
Place the milk and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring just to the boil before removing from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornflour together until smooth. Pour a small amount of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking all the while. Once smooth, pour in the remainder of the milk in a steady stream while continuing to whisk the mixture.
Place the mixture back over a medium heat on the stovetop, and whisk over the heat until it thickens into the desired consistency. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the vanilla extract and butter, and whisk in until smooth.
Spoon the pastry cream into a bowl, and press cling film against the surface the pastry cream to form a seal. Allow the pastry cream to cool completely.
To assemble the cake:
Using a serrated knife, cut the sponge cake in half, and place the bottom half on a cake board.
Brush the top of the cake later with the cooled syrup until well covered:
Spread a thin layer of jam on top of the cake layer:
Spread the pastry cream in a generous layer over the top of the jam (I only used about two thirds of the pastry cream that I had made). Sprinkle half of the pomegranate seeds over the pastry cream, then place the top cake layer on top of the cake, smooth side up:
Whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until medium peaks form.
Brush the outside of the cake with syrup, then spread the whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds on top of the cake:
This is a delightful tasting cake, and is fancy enough for any special occasion - or no occasion at all! It is also not hard to make, but it does take some time. I recommend making the cake, syrup and pastry cream one night, and assembling the cake the next night so that the components have time to cool and the flavours have time to develop.
Thanks to Celina Bean and Holly Storm for providing the basis of this recipe.