Sunday is Valentine's Day. Now, even though Valentine's Day has always been a non-event for me, I like the idea of it. It's an opportunity (even if commercialised) for couples and loved ones to acknowledge their regard for each other amid the hurly burly of every day life.
Also, the pink girly-girl in me loves the hearts and flowers symbols associated with Valentine's Day.
To indulge my fondness for pink hearts, I made a Valentine's Cake - a little early, but as Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday this year and I need to be able to share my baking at work, I made it this week.
I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's white chocolate cake recipe for the Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake in Rose's Heavenly Cakes (p91) as my base cake. In keeping with the Valentine's theme, I baked the cake in two heart-shaped tins, and also made 5 mini heart cakes (I ate one before the photo was taken!) with the leftover batter:
The two large cakes were split into 4 layers and filled with strawberry mousseline (a meringue-based buttercream):
I then frosted the cake with cream cheese frosting made from Leila Lindholm's A Piece of Cake (p85). (Originally, I was going to use white chocolate frosting, but I thought that may have been way too sweet.)
The base white chocolate cake was delicious on its own. It's not overly sweet, and I actually liked eating the unadorned cake the best. I am not a buttercream fan, so the mousseline was not my thing, but a lot of people do like it, and the cake disappeared rapidly. Besides, it was in perfect keeping with the theme of my cake. The cream cheese frosting was good in that it added a little tang to a very sweet cake.
If you'd like to make your own Valentine's Cake, you will need:
227g chopped white chocolate
6 large egg whites (I had heaps of egg whites in my freezer from TWD)
1 1/3 cups milk (divided into 1 cup and 1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
170g butter, at room temperature
284g softened butter
3 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar less 3 tablespoons
3 tablespoons sugar, extra
3 tablespoons water
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons cream of tartar
2/3 cup strawberry butter (I used strained strawberry jam)
1/2 cup strawberry butter, extra
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food colouring
Cream Cheese Frosting
60g softened butter
300g icing sugar
100g cream cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
red food colouring
Heart shaped sprinkles to decorate
Line your cake tins (Rose used 2 x 9 inch round tins and 2 cupcake papers) with baking paper, then spray the baking paper with baking spray and dust the inside of the tins with a fine coating of plain flour.
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Melt the white chocolate by placing it in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and stir until just melted. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, the 1/3 cup of milk and the vanilla until just combined.
Using an electric mixer, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the 1 cup milk to the bowl, and mix on low speed to just moisten the ingredients, then increase the speed to medium and beat the mixture for 1 1/2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
On medium low speed, add the egg white mixture to the batter in 3 lots, beating after each addition. Add the melted white chocolate to the batter and beat the mixture just until the chocolate is incorporated.
Fill each of your cake tins 1/2 full of batter and the cupcake papers 2/3 full of batter. (The hearts were just a guessing game!) Bake the cakes for 30-40minutes or until cooked through, and the cupcakes for 25-30 minutes.
Remove the cooked cakes from the oven, and allow them to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before unmoulding them onto an oiled wire rack to cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, and set aside.
Put the egg whites into a bowl with an electric mixer set up nearby, ready to go.
In a small saucepan, stir together the water and the 2/3 cup less 3 tablespoons of sugar until the sugar is moistened, then heat the mixture over low heat on the stove, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the mixture bubbles. Stop stirring, and reduce the heat to low.
Beat the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar, then continue to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 3 tablespoons of sugar to the mixture, beating in until stiff peaks form.
Increase the heat and bring the sugar syrup to the boil, and allow it to boil (without stirring) until it reaches 120 degrees Celsius (firm ball).
With the mixer running on low speed, add the sugar syrup to the egg whites in a steady stream, being careful to ensure that it doesn't hit the sides of the bowl or bounce off the beaters onto the bowl. Once the syrup has been incorporated, decrease the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 2 minutes. Stop beating the mixture, then refrigerate it for 5-10 minutes or until it cools to 21 degrees Celsius. (Rose recommends whisking after the first 5 minutes to test and equalise temperature - I didn't.)
Put the creamed butter reserved from earlier back into the stand mixer, this time with the whisk attachment in place, and beat on medium-high for 3 minutes or until the butter lightens in colour. (It should also be no warmer than 21 degrees Celsius - try that in a kitchen that is 29 degrees Celsius!)
Scoop the meringue into the butter and beat on medium speed until smooth, then beat for a further 2 minutes. Remove the mousseline from the mixture and stir in 2/3 cup of strawberry butter (or jam or preserves), the vanilla and enough red food colouring to tint the mousseline the desired shade of pink.
Split each of the large cakes into two layers with a serrated knife, and cut off the rounded tops so the layers are level. Stick one layer of cake onto a cake plate or cardboard round with a dab of mousseline. Spread one cup of mousseline and some of the reserved 1/2 cup of strawberry butter evenly over the top of that layer:
Put all of the ingredients except the colouring into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until smooth. Tint the frosting the desired shade of pink using food colouring.
Spread the frosting over the top of the cake, and decorate with heart sprinkles (or as desired).
Inside, your sliced cake will surprise you with lots of lovely layers:
This cake is my entry to Nina's Bake-A-Cake Event over at Confessions of a Bake-a-holic.
To participate, you just need to bake a cake from scratch with a Valentine’s Day theme, then follow the directions on Nina's site.
Finally, in keeping with the Valentine's Day theme, I wanted to show you this cute Valentine that I cross-stitched: