I know I haven’t been updating lately; I think I’ve come down with a case of writer’s block. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough.
Recently I caught up with my uni girls for a session of gossiping and DIY high tea. As we were planning on what we were making, I noticed that the girls were going overboard with the desserts; there was only 1 savoury item out of about half a dozen items. I mean, in a fantasy world, eating a lot of desserts may sound like a brilliant idea until the sugar coma hits and you’re left asking “What was I thinking?” I decided to ditch my idea of making desserts and ended up making mushroom and cheese puff pastries instead which came as a saviour when we all started feeling the sugar.
There were macarons from Sweet Petite Treats (I bought these along for the girls because Julieann was donating all money raised from gift packs of 16 macarons towards The Queensland Foods Appeal – which I urge you all to do if you haven’t done so already), various cupcakes (not pictured), egg tarts, berry pavlova, pecan and butterscotch tart, Heston’s popping chocolate cake, scones and jam (that weren’t touched throughout the afternoon *sad face*), homemade chicken and mushroom pies, and mushroom and cheese puff pastries. Now that was a massive sugar rush!
That evening we had our friend’s birthday party so I decided to turn the petits fours I was going to make for the high tea party into a birthday cake.
Airy sponge cake. Honey buttercream. Crushed hazelnut nougatine. Sure that all sounds simple enough… All but the last component! This recipe almost killed my food processor! This was probably the first time that I had made nougatine or any form of hard caramel/toffee so I didn’t know that you had to roll the hot sugary mixture out thinly. Mine ended up about 1cm thick and when you try to to whiz this up in a little domestic food processor (or two)… It doesn’t like it that much. I only processed a few shards of thick nougatine in fear that my food processor was going to blow up and I’ll have blades flying at me! Lucky I am still here to tell the story hey?
And as for the cake.. Was it worth all that trouble? Well it was in the fridge for sometime prior to serving so I think it moistened up a bit and became somewhat denser than what I had imagined it to be, I found the buttercream to be a tad too sweet (maybe due to my sweet taste buds being over sensitised that afternoon) but I loved the delicate honey flavour of the buttercream and crunchy textures of the crushed nougatine and additional hazelnuts. Just don’t have this after a mega sugar feasting please; learn from my mistake. Enjoy guys!
By the way, Happy Australia Day guys!
Adapted from Indulgence Petits Fours
Makes a 20cm square cake
1 cup (125g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (55g) almond meal
1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (230g) caster sugar
4 egss, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup (170mL) milk
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g icing sugar, sifted (original recipe called for 200g but I found it too sweet; if 100g is not enough then add another 50g)
30mL liquid glucose (light corn syrup)
60g roasted hazelnuts, chopped
The original recipe also called for equal amounts of butter as well but I found that after I made it, alot of oil was leaking out of the nougatine (ewww) and had to be drained away. I had a look online and it seems like most recipes don’t use butter so I decided to exclude it from this recipe.
For the sponge
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin and line with baking paper.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and almond meal into a small bowl.
- Cream the butter and 2/3 cups (145g) sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla amd milk until well combined.
- Fold in the sifted flour mixture until just combined.
- Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until foamy. Add the remaining sugar and beat until soft peaks.
- Stir in a tablespoonful of egg whites into the sponge mixture, then gently fold in the rest.
- Pour into cake tin and bake for 30mins or until firm to touch.
- Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
For the honey buttercream
- Beat the butter, honey and vanilla until pale and creamy.
- Gradually add the icing sugar (the amount is dependant on your personal taste) and beat until light and fluffy.
- Store in fridge until required.
For the nougatine (a nice pictorial could be found here)
- Combine the sugar and glucose in a pan over medium heat.
- Boil until sugar starts to caramelise in colour.
- Add 30g of chopped hazelnuts and shake to coat.
- Working quickly, pour nougatine onto a baking tray and spread mixture out very thinnly. Cool.
- Break the hardened nougatine into shards and transfer to a food processor, and process until coarsely chopped (or before your food processor dies). (If you don’t have a food processor, you could place the shards into a plastic bag and beat it with a rolling pin until it is coarsely crushed.)
For the assembly
- Slice the sponge cake into 2 horizontal layers.
- Place bottom layer on serving plate and spread with half the buttercream mixture.
- Top with the other layer of sponge cake and buttercream.
- Sprinkle chopped nougatine and hazelnuts on top; pressing the mixture into the buttercream.