15 March 2011

Cassata Cake

Right, so I've literally spent the last hour trolling the Internet looking for this exact recipe.  You see, I printed this off ages ago, maybe circa 2005 - but I wanted to add it to my (eventually defunct?) delicious  account. This is the only version of the cassata cake that I am willing to accept at this moment.

I have also decided that when I get married, this exact cake will be the wedding cake. Along with mini/cupcake versions of my cheesecake recipe
Mango and Strawberry cheesecake
Strawberry cheesecake

 - I suppose that means I'll be cooking my wedding cakes then.

As a kid my mom would always get me this as a birthday cake - and apparently similar versions of this are the 'Cleveland Style' cassata cakes birthed from the Sicilians that migrated to Cleveland. Ahh my little melting pot of a hometown.

My Cassata Cake along with the printout that I still have

Strawberry Cassata Cake

To save time, substitute a cake made from a yellow cake mix (I use French Vanilla cake mix) for the Chiffon Sponge Cake. And don't forget to slice the tops off the cake layers to make them lay just right.

There will be leftover Pastry Cream; store in the refrigerator for up to three days and use for other desserts or pastries. It does not freeze well.

1 recipe Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
1 recipe Chiffon Sponge Cake (recipe follows)
3 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pastry bag fitted with large star tip
1 (10-inch) cardboard round
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
2 cups almonds, toasted and crushed
Cake plate or pedestal
12 whole strawberries (buy the huge Driscoll variety)
Prepare the Pastry Cream and refrigerate according to directions.
Prepare the Chiffon Sponge Cake and let the layers cool; wrap and
store, if necessary.

When ready to assemble the cake, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff, being careful not to overwhip or the cream will become buttery. Place 1 cup of the sweetened whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Place the bag into the refrigerator
until ready to use.

Remove the Pastry Cream from the refrigerator and whip it by hand for no more than 1 minute to smooth out the lumps.

Place one of the cake layers, right side up, onto the cardboard round. Spread a 1/2-inch-thick layer of Pastry Cream over the top of the bottom layer. Arrange a 1-cup layer of chopped strawberries on the cake layer and top with a thin layer of whipped cream, just enough to barely cover the strawberries.

Place the other cake layer, right side down, on top of the filling. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to set.

Remove from the refrigerator and ice the top and sides with the remaining whipped cream. If you are right-handed, hold the cake from the bottom with your right hand and your palm flat up to the ceiling. With your left hand, grab a handful of chopped nuts and gently press them into the side of the cake. (Reverse for left-hand decorating.) Rotate the cake and continue pressing on the nuts until the entire side is covered.

Place the cake on a cake plate or pedestal. Using the chilled pastry bag, pipe 12 rosettes of whipped cream on the top edge of the cake. To evenly space them, think of the top of the cake as a clock. Pipe a rosette at 12 o’clock, then one each at 6, 3, and 9 o’clock, dividing the cake into quarters. Pipe on the remaining rosettes. Top each rosette with a whole strawberry. Refrigerate the cake, up to 3 days, until ready to serve.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Pastry Cream aka Custard
4 cups (1 quart) milk
3 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the milk in a large heavy saucepan and set it over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs to break them up. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the cornstarch, salt and vanilla, and whisk to combine.

When the milk comes to a slow boil, add 1/3 of it to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. (This is called tempering.) Bring the remaining milk back to a boil. Add all of the tempered egg mixture to the milk, continuously whisking over medium-high heat until thickened.

Place the cooked custard into a bowl, whisk in the butter until smooth and cover with plastic wrap so it touches the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until set.

Chiffon Sponge Cake or skip if you went for the box cake...which I always do. Maybe I'll try one from scratch one day, but I even add things to the box cake recipe that may as well make it homemade
For a taller three-layer cake, multiply the following recipe by 1 1/2 and divide the batter among three 10-inch round layer pans. Weigh the cake flour and sugar for best results. Otherwise, 14 ounces of cake flour is approximately 41/8 cups; 14 ounces of sugar is approximately 13/4 cups.

Butter, for greasing
8 eggs, separated
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
14 ounces cake flour
14 ounces sugar, divided
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Lightly butter the bottom of two 10-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with
a circle of parchment or wax paper, but do not butter the parchment or
the sides of the pan. (Similar to angel food cake, this cake needs to
cling to the sides while baking.)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the egg yolks and vegetable oil into a deep bowl. Mix, then blend in the water and vanilla.

Into another bowl or onto wax paper, sift together the cake flour, 1/3 of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Add to the egg yolk mixture and whip for about 2 minutes, either by hand or with an electric mixer.

In a very clean, deep metal bowl, whip the egg whites and remaining sugar until the mixture **EDIT* THIS IS A PAIN. IF YOU ADD THE SUGAR ALL AT ONCE IT WON'T WORK. IF THERE IS ANY OIL OR EGG YOLK IN THIS MIXTURE IT WON'T WORK. IT SHOULD TAKE NO LONGER THAN 2 - 5 MINUTES TO GET YOUR RESULT* forms stiff peaks (when you can turn the mixing bowl upside down without the egg whites sliding out). Gently fold half of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Leave the mixture streaky with
egg whites so that you do not overfold. Fold in the remaining egg whites, being gentler than the first time. Carefully continue folding until there are no streaks of egg whites.

Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and gently smooth the tops. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Turn the pans upside down onto cookie racks to completely cool.

Gently run a knife around the sides of the pans. Tip the cakes out of the pans onto a flat surface.

The cakes can be double-wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes 2 round 10-inch cake layers.

Swimming with this Mermaid