While I can no longer bake dozens of cookies at a time, the modest oven hasn't disappointed (though several recipes have). Of course, I've not attempted macarons in this new oven and that's a headache I'm still saving for later.
So today is an absolutely gorgeous spring day in our new home town of Mill Creek which lies just north of Seattle. I was lucky enough to relocate to an area with a wicked good donut shop (Frost) and a brand new French Bakery (Mon Amie--yes they do macarons, go visit) that I'm now haunting. So before I go out and hit the garden and enjoy this sunshine, we're going to bake up a cake.
Something light, creamy and versatile. The cake is perfect with just about anything fruity, be it citrus curds, a drizzle of a thick fruit coulis, or fresh from the garden berries. Given that it is April, I wont pretend that any berries used today are fresh from the garden but as things warm up that will be a possibility. So let's talk cake!
Rather than using a standard roulade base like sponge, which gets a well aerated structure from whipped eggs--and has the tendency to be a bit dry--we're cake with plenty of whipped heavy cream. The whipped fat adds volume and moistness and the result is a light and tender cake. The recipe is an adaption of the popular Whipped Cream Cake, one of my absolute favorites from Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
Since cream plays such a central roll in this recipe, we need to use the right kind of cream. For the best cake, a 40% ultra heavy cream should be used. Anything less will lack the needed fat and will make for a less tender cake. To find this luxuriously high fat cream in the U.S., check large box stores like Costco and Sam's Club. Or any restaurant supply outlet. It is also beginning to pop up in well stocked, upscale grocery stores. If it's still impossible to track down, find you're nearest bakery and ask them nicely to sell you a carton.
I should also note, that for the best results, superfine sugar is needed to properly dissolve in the batter and low protein flour is recommended. This cake really isn't one for 'it's close-enough' substitutions.
Whipped Cream Cake Roll
adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
yields one large roulade, serves 10-12
6 oz cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup 40%+ ultra heavy cream (see notes above)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces super fine sugar
Prepare a 18x13"sheet pan (the Jelly-roll type with 1" raised edges) with non-stick spray and parchment on the bottom.
Preheat the oven well before baking, setting a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Sift well, as it will prevent any lumps in the batter later on during the folding stage.
In a second small bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and vanilla and set aside.
In a third bowl, whip the heavy cream until a stiff peak forms on the beater when raised. Then, on medium high speed, add the egg mixture to the whipped cream and beat. Slowly add the sugar to the mixture in a slow trickle while beating.
Add half of the flour mixture to the cream mixture and folk until most of it has incorporated. Then add the remaining flour and continue to fold until all the flour and cream have been combined. The batter will be a bit thick.
Scrape the batter into your prepared sheet pan and spread it evenly to the edges with an offset spatula.
Pop the cake into your oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center. Do not over bake.
Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack, the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan as it cools. Allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then quickly invert onto a clean, lint free, tea towel that has been dusted with powdered sugar.
Remove the sheet of parchment from the back of the cake and gently fold the edge of the tea towel over the short length of the cake and roll it up while the cake is still warm. Don't force the cake, particularly the leading edge, into a tight spiral. A loose roll will do the job very well.
Now while your funny looking cake sausage is cooling, we can prepare the filling.
Often we see roulades are filled with just sweetened whip cream, which is delicious but has the disadvantage of breaking down over time and making your cake soggy. Now stores and bakeries will use all sorts of stabilizers to prevent the cream from doing just that, rather than get into that whole mess of gelatin and chemicals, we're going to add cream cheese (or mascarpone) to stabilize the light cream and add body and richness to the cake. That's right, we're using our popular whipped cream cheese frosting yet again.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
yields enough to fill one roulade
12 oz cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Sift the powdered sugar and add the cream cheese (or mascarpone) and vanilla to the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat them thoroughly until fluffy and completely smooth/lump free. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture, scrape down the sides of your bowl and beat to combine. Do not over beat.
Gently unroll the cooled cake, taking care to do it slowly so not to produce cracking. Now thickly spread the whipped frosting over the cake, making sure it is heavily applied at the edge of the cake that makes up the center of your spiral.
Now gently roll the cake back up, peeling away the tea-towel as you roll. Place the roll on a platter and trim the edges with a serrated knife to make everything even and tidy then dust with powdered sugar.
Now you've got a wonderful, soft, creamy cake ready to dress up in any way you like. Bring on the berries!
Don't get me wrong though, this cake is darn good naked too.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.