My boyfriend didn't want a cake for his birthday this year, so I made him one anyway (under the excuse of producing something for the blog). I'm known for making huge cakes so I really tried to downsize this time. This recipe makes two individual cakes which are still large and rich enough to satisfy anybody's sweet tooth. The cakes are charming and delicate, sweet and tangy at the same time. Don't be fooled by the fatless sponge I've used in this recipe! All the white chocolate makes up for it in the calorie department.
Makes 2 individual cakes
- 2 lemons (unwaxed), zest and juice
- 2 eggs, yolks only
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
Sponge (all ingredients should be at room temperature)
- 2 eggs, whites and yolks
- 66g caster sugar
- 50g plain flour
- 57g potato flour
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 250ml whipping cream
- lemon curd
White chocolate ganache
- 150g white chocolate
- 50g whipping cream
For the lemon curd
Zest two lemons and juice them, put the juice and the zest aside. Separate two eggs, put the yolks in small saucepan. Add 75g of caster sugar in with the egg yolks and put the saucepan on low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar has melted and the mixture is pale and increased in volume. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Return to the heat and add 50g of butter and the lemon zest. Continuously whisking, slowly bring the mixture to the boil and cook for a few min until it has thickened. Take off the heat and set aside. The curd will set as it cools.
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 160-170°C. Separate two eggs, put the whites in a medium bowl* and the yolks aside. Start beating the egg whites on medium speed (rather than high); this will take longer but it will result in a more stable foam. Once the egg whites form soft peaks, slowly start adding 66g of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating, the mixture will thicken as the sugar gets absorbed. Add two egg yolks, one at a time, beating until smooth. Sift 50g of plain flour and 57g of potato flour into the egg mixture and using a spatula, gently fold until combined. Pour the sponge batter onto a tray lined with baking paper. Spread evenly to make approx. a 25×32 cm rectangle and bake for 10-12 min. Take out of the oven and drop** the tray on the ground from a height of about 40 cm. Set aside to cool.
For the soaking liquid
Squeeze one lemon and mix the juice with 2 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of caster sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, set aside.
For the lemon cream
Whip 250ml of cream until firm, then beat the lemon curd in until combined. Be careful not to overwhip the cream and do not beat for too long after adding the curd as the mixture might become runny. This is a step I frequently mess up!
For the chocolate ganache
Do this step just before you are ready to glaze the cakes. Chop 150g of white chocolate into small pieces and put in a jug. Heat 50g cream and pour it over the chocolate. Stir vigorously until the chocolate melts completely and the ganache is smooth. If the hot cream is not enough to melt all of the chocolate, give it a 10-20 sec blast in a microwave.
To assemble the cakes
Using a round cutter (diameter approx. 8 cm or 3 inches) cut 8 discs from the sponge. Try to use the middle part of the sponge as the edges might have become crispy – you want the soft, fleshy bits. Now it’s time to hydrate the sponge. Pour about a tablespoon of the soaking liquid into each disc – soak from the bottom side as it has a more permeable surface and it will absorb the liquid more easily. Set aside for 10-15 min.
To assemble one cake, put a heaped tablespoon of the lemon cream on top of the first sponge disc and cover it with another disc, compressing lightly. Repeat until there are three layers of cream between four sponge discs. Be gentle as they will be delicate (especially if your lemon cream isn’t firm enough – mine was on the soft side this time round) but they will work, promise! Use more lemon cream to smooth out the sides. Repeat the process for the other cake. Place the assembled cakes in the fridge to firm up.
Once firm, the cakes can be glazed. The best thing to do is to put them on a wire rack and pour the ganache (it can be lukewarm but not hot) right in the middle of each cake so it can flow down the sides naturally. Use a spatula to help it cover the sides completely. You have to work fast because this ganache is fairly thick and sets quickly! Decorate the cakes with white chocolate curls and/or shavings. I attempted to temper the chocolate for the curls but I am not sure it was entirely successful so I won’t share the method 😉
* use a glass or metal bowl, do not use plastic
** this is to knock any large air bubbles out which could cause the sponge to sink when cooling; this step is more important when you bake a high sponge in a proper cake tin rather than a thin one like in this recipe, however I follow it anyway