I had a pretty good weekend. The weekdays have been not so great, but my weekend was lovely. And this weekend it was my Mum's birthday. She was in the country to celebrate it too! You may recall that this time last year was when my Mum's birthday cake was dropped on to the middle of the road. I didn't mention in that post that it was actually my husband that turned that poor cake into roadkill. I was being all nice about it and not letting him take the blame for it but screw it, it's been a year. It was his fault! Poor guy, he's so traumatised from that experience that he now refuses to carry any of my cakes.
So my Mum's only request for this year's cake was that it wasn't too sweet or heavy and that I didn't drop it on the ground again. I went with an oldie but a goodie. A classic vanilla sponge cake, sandwiched with raspberry jam and cream. I could have left it there as a traditional Victoria sponge, but I couldn't resist adding a few embellishments to change it up a little. I decided to incorporate some rose and lychee flavours, a la Pierre Hermé's ispahan creations. After seeing some rose meringue inspiration on instagram, I knew I had to make some mini rose meringues.
The mini meringues take a little longer to bake because of the added moisture from the rose water, and they will get soggy from sitting next to the lychee and raspberry pieces, so make sure you don't put all the toppings on to the cake until you're ready to serve it. I've made a few desserts involving the combo of rose, raspberry and lychee and it is always a winner. My sponge was slightly overbaked (which you might be able to tell from its colour in these not so great photos) so it was a little bit drier than I preferred, but luckily the mountain of cream and jam ensured that this wasn't a problem. This cake is nothing ground-breaking but it's a nice and pretty cake and I think it's exactly what we needed after the insanity of the fried chicken cake.
Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
(makes a 3 layer 18cm (7") round cake, sponge recipe from Gourmet Traveller)
For the Sponge Cake:
Note: If you are new to sponge cakes make sure you click through to the Gourmet Traveller link above for extra tips. This sponge cake relies solely on the whipped eggs for leavening and it is important you follow all the steps carefully.
60g (about 4.5 tbsp) butter, melted and cooled plus extra for greasing tins
180g (about 1 & 1/3 cups) plain/all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
6 eggs, at room temperature
200g (about 1 cup) caster/superfine sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Make sure your eggs are at room temp and preheat oven to 180°C (350° F) (you may need to adjust to 160-170°C (340° F) for fan-forced).
- Brush two 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins with melted butter, line base and sides with baking paper, grease paper with a little extra butter and then dust lightly with flour.
- Triple-sift flour and set aside.
- Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until thick, pale and tripled in volume (about 7-8 minutes). Sift over flour in two batches, folding each batch in with a large metal spoon or spatula.
- Fold in melted butter.
- Carefully pour equal amounts into prepared tins and bake until light golden and centre springs back when pressed lightly with your fingertip (about 20-25 minutes).
- Pull cake gently away from sides of tin with your fingers or carefully loosen with a knife. Turn onto a wire rack, remove baking paper, turn back over swiftly and cool completely. Cakes can be baked a day ahead stored in an airtight container at room temperature
For the mini rose meringues:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
A pinch of salt
200g (about 1 cup) caster/superfine sugar
1 tsp rose water
Optional: Powdered pink food colouring
- Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F) (100°C (210°F) fan-forced) and measure all your ingredients. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Place egg whites and salt in a large, clean mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With the mixer on low, add sugar 1 tbsp at a time then whisk on high until thick and glossy (at least 5 mins). (Optional: Add food colouring here to tint mixture light pink)
- Pinch a small amount of mixture between your thumb and forefinger. If mixture is smooth then the sugar has dissolved, if it is still grainy, beat for a minute or so more and check again. Beat until sugar has completely dissolved.
- Place mixture in a large piping bag with a 1cm round tip and pipe on the prepared baking trays.
- Place in oven and reduce oven temp to 90°C (195°F) (85°C (185°F) fan-forced). Leave the oven on for 75-90 mins or until the meringues are crisp (mine took longer but I prefer to leave them longer at a low temp than risk them browning at a higher temp), then turn off oven and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven (2-3 hours).
- Store in an airtight container until ready to serve cake.
To assemble cake:
1 cup thickened cream (or replace 1/2 cup with creme fraiche like I did), cold
2 tbsp icing/powdered sugar, sifted
About 3/4 cup raspberry jam
To decorate: Fresh raspberries, fresh or canned pitted lychees chopped in to small pieces, dried edible rose petals, extra icing sugar to dust
- Place cream (and creme fraiche) and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Take care not to overwhip.
- Place one sponge cake layer on your cake stand or plate. Spread a thick layer of raspberry jam over the top of cake, followed by a thicker layer of whipped cream. Sandwich with remaining sponge cake layer.
- Arrange rose mini meringues, raspberries, lychee pieces and fresh rose petals over the top of the cake. Dust with extra icing sugar to finish. Serve immediately, or can be stored in the fridge for several hours before serving.