Some things in life can't be put off forever and this was one of those instances! I've tried to ignore this recipe’s existence for over a year. However, as I now have less than five recipes left to complete, I was finally forced to acknowledge it! The apparent amount of skill required for this Austrian cake was the reason for my reluctance; it certainly didn't sound simple. There were numerous layers of sponge sandwiched together with a complicated version of chocolate butter cream. To top it all off, I had to make caramel! Just thinking about it sent a shiver of dread down my spine!
I had hoped to make an early start on the cake but my plans were soon scuppered. I awoke to discover that I'd pulled a tummy muscle during the night (it is quite difficult to turn over in bed at the moment)! This meant that getting out of bed, washing and dressing all took much longer than usual. As a result I didn't make it into the kitchen until late morning. At least I didn't have to run around after my little boy as he was spending most of the day with his grandparents. I had the house to myself and plenty of time to make the terrifying cake with, I hoped, time spare to give the kitchen a scrub afterwards. How thrilling!
The first part of the recipe looked surprisingly straightforward. I had to make a simple fatless sponge so, as long as I used the muscle power of my electric whisk, all should be well. Before getting started I made the most of the empty house and put on my favourite music nice and loud. I hoped jigging about might make time go that bit faster and eliminate my stress! Instead of lining cake tins, I was instructed to do something a bit different. I had to cut out six circles of greaseproof paper and lay them out on multiple baking trays. I only own three baking trays, so I would have to bake the cakes in two batches.
I grabbed a large mixing bowl from the cupboard and cracked in four eggs before tipping in a heap of caster sugar. The eggs and sugar would need to be whisked fast and furiously for some considerable time so, without hesitation, I reached for my beloved electric hand whisk. The music I had been enjoying was immediately obliterated by the racket emanating from the whisk, hey ho! Once the mixture was light, foamy and mousse like it was ready to be spread over the paper circles. Thankfully the moussey mixture behaved and didn't gush over the sides of the paper as I had feared! With the three trays of cake mixture in the oven there was no time to get on with anything else as they only took six minutes to cook! The cake circles exited the oven slightly puffed and golden. They were then plonked straight onto wire racks to cool while I got the second and final batch into the oven. When all the cakes were cooked I could turn the oven off and get on with the chocolate butter cream, eeek!
I decided to melt the plain chocolate first of all so that it had time to cool while I got on with the rest of the task. For the first time I disobeyed Mary and melted the chocolate in the microwave instead of placing it over a pan of simmering water - tsk tsk!!! I felt sure she was standing in the shadows shaking her head with disapproval! With a shifty glint in my eyes, I gave the chocolate some short sharp blasts in the microwave. As it was a fairly modest amount it didn't take long to give in to the heat; it turned out unscathed despite my disobedience!
While the chocolate cooled I cracked two egg whites into a glass bowl followed by sifted icing sugar. It was a welcome change not having to use a mountain of icing sugar – I just hoped this would limit the mess! The bowl could now be placed over a - guess what? Yes, a pan of simmering water of course (there was no escape)!! Out came the trusty whisk again and I whisked until the creamy white mixture held its shape. Once it was off the heat I reached for yet another bowl (the washing up was growing at an alarming rate) and tipped in a large slab of softened butter. However, it can't have been soft enough, as Mary tells us to cream it until very soft before adding in the egg white mixture. I beat in the egg white mixture a little at a time and lastly stirred in the melted chocolate which was by now cold. It looked so creamy and delicious, but there seemed to be a lot of it.
Now for the part I'd really been dreading; making the caramel. I could almost picture myself at a burns unit receiving skin grafts. I am so accident prone it’s not true, while I know from experience how hot caramel is – OUCH! Ignoring the feelings of impending doom, I placed the granulated sugar into a saucepan along with some water and put it over a low heat. While the sugar melted I searched online to see how hot the caramel should get - in other words what temperature it should reach when ready. Mary just mentions that the mixture should be straw coloured, which I didn't feel was very helpful! An American website stated 143 degrees Fahrenheit, so I shoved in my sugar thermometer and turned up the heat. I placed a single layer of sponge onto a piece of greaseproof paper and laid out a second piece of greaseproof paper alongside. Once the caramel was ready I quickly poured half of the sticky mass onto the sponge and the remainder onto the sheet of greaseproof paper. The caramel on the sponge set fairly fast but I was able to use a knife to spread it out. Next I was instructed to mark, then cut, the sponge into sixteen wedges. Even with an oiled knife it was very tricky to achieve neat slices, so I opted for just eight wedges instead. What can I say; I was obviously in a rebellious mood!
Once the caramel on the greaseproof paper had completely set I bashed it to death with a heavy rolling pin. This is when my stress levels began to rise. The caramel stuck stubbornly to the paper and only a teeny tiny amount crushed as it was supposed to. In the end I had to admit defeat and leave it at that!
Finally, some two hours after starting this cake, it was time to assemble it. I sandwiched the remaining five layers of sponge together with some of the butter cream and smeared a generous amount over the sides. This still left an ample quantity for piping. I was determined to make use of the crushed caramel, so I pressed what little I had onto one side of the cake, just to give an idea of what it SHOULD look like! The butter cream was very soft, and the warmth from my hands didn't help matters when I piped rosettes around the top of the cake. It was almost dripping out of the nozzle! Lastly, I placed the caramel topped wedges of sponge at an angle on top of each chocolate rosette. At first glance I thought the finished cake looked a little odd with the pale wedges sitting on top of a chocolaty cake. It wasn't until the cake was sliced that I realised just how special it was; the five layers certainly looked impressive!
I hadn't intended to sample this cake due to the partly cooked egg whites in the butter cream. It isn't wise to eat such a thing when pregnant. However, my greed took the better of me and I found myself licking out the remains from the bowl of butter cream – big whoops! Considering I'd already consumed a large helping, I carried on and ate a big slice of cake. I have to say that in this case all the effort, mild stress and massive stack of washing up was worth it! The layers of sponge were so very light in texture, while the butter cream was a real winner. It was deliciously chocolaty and it almost melted in my mouth. It wasn't too rich or sickly like some other types of butter cream. The caramel cake wedges were obviously sweet and crunchy. It was nice to have another texture, but I think the cake would not suffer without it.
Neil has been hard to please of late as he is “caked out”, so I was amazed when he gave it a big thumbs up. He said it was lovely and light and he scoffed two slices in quick succession!
I wouldn't say no to making this cake again but I doubt if I would bother with the caramel. It was time consuming to make and I don't think it would be missed. I'm sure another form of decoration could be used. As the cake took so long to make and clear up after I never did find time to clean the kitchen – but something tells me it will still need doing tomorrow!
|Eight wedges instead of sixteen!!|
|Five layers of sponge|