Midsummer Night’s Dream Cake

I made this cake yesterday evening by freely adapting a recipe found in the July issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine. Janine from Worcester had submitted her recipe for a Blueberry & pistachio cake with cardamon cream which looked really nice and seeing as I had all the necessary ingredients, I decided to give it a go. Her cardamom cream soon turned out to be a nightmare (too watery and not cardamomy enough anyway), so I opted for a much more secured cream cheese frosting enriched with pistachio. She also used ground pistachio in the sponge (posh!), but as I didn’t have them already ground and my food processor was in the dishwasher after having slaved the whole afternoon to make breadcrumbs, I went for ground almonds instead.

I hope you like it. I do. It’s a very visual cake and it somehow reminds me of autumn. Maybe because of the pistachio speckled blueberries on top, which look a bit like fallen leaves on the ground. The green on top set against the dark blueberry background also reminds me of the moss on the side of a tree… I was toying with the idea of calling this Fairy Cake, but then I decided to opt for a much more evocative name, possibly because the colours and the textures of this cake somehow remind me of this wonderful screen adaptation of the Shakespearean play.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 4 large eggs
  • 225 golden caster sugar
  • 175g butter, melted and cooled
  • 200g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 85g ground almonds, sifted
  • 50g blueberries

Ingredients (for the filling and the decoration)

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100g butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 60g pistachios, finely chopped
  • 250g blueberries

Method

  1. Start by preparing 2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins. Line the bottom with baking parchment and butter the sides and the parchment, then pour 1 tsp caster sugar and 1 tsp flour in each and swirl them around to evenly coat the inside of the tins.
  2. Put the eggs and the sugar in a heatproof bowl, then use an electric whisk to briefly combine them. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the mixture is very pale, thick and has at least doubled in volume. To test when your mixture is ready, try and lift the whisks from the bowl. The mixture should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon-like trail. (You can do with a normal balloon whisk, but be prepared to whisk for ages)
  3. Remove the bowl from the surface and continue beating for about 2 minutes or until the bowl is cool to to the touch.
  4. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  5. Now take the melted and cooled butter and start trickling it around the edge of the bowl, whisking on full speed all along. Pause every once in a while to incorporate all of the butter. Once the butter has been fully incorporated, remove the whisks and use a metal spoon or a rubber spatula.
  6. Fold in the flour and ground almonds with very long and delicate movements, so as to knock out of the mixture as little air as possible. Last, also fold in the blueberries.
  7. Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes. Check the sponges are cooked by using a skewer.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set over a wire rack to cool, then unmould and leave to cool completely.
  9. While the sponges cool, move on to the icing. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the softened butter and the icing sugar using the paddle attachment until you get a sandy-like consistency.
  10. Start adding the milk one tablespoon at the time and increase the speed until the mixture is fully blended and very creamy. Increase the speed again to very high and beat for about 2 minutes, until very fluffy and pale white. (Again, you can do this with a balloon whisk)
  11. Mix in half of the finely chopped pistachios, then start layering your cake.
  12. Arrange one of the sponges on a cake stand/board, then top with 2/3 of the icing, spreading it evenly. Arrange the other sponge on top, then spread the remaining icing on top of the cake. Cover the top with blueberries and use the leftover ones to create a pearl-necklace-like decoration around the cake by pushing then in the hole created between the two sponges. Dust with the rest of the chopped pistachios and serve.

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