Third-Month-of-the-Year Cake

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

I realize this blog has been a little cake heavy as of late; sorry about that. (As a result, I myself am also a little cake heavy.)

I couldn’t report much in the way of dinner over the weekend, having not actually made anything. We attended a (paintball) birthday party on Saturday (I have the bruises to prove it) and were fed pizza and sushi, and Sunday night we had ham and scalloped potatoes at my Mum’s. But on Saturday I did contribute a cake to the birthday celebration, and I want to tell you about it.

The request was for chocolate cake with chocolate sauce. Yes, I could have done that dense Chocolate Valentino cake (and A, if you were hoping for it, sorry) but I view birthdays as opportunities to try new things I might not otherwise have reason to. (Mike thinks this is a Bad Idea.) Fortunately, this time it worked out.

I pulled my new(ish) chocolate cookbook off the shelf – a really beautiful and full of good ideas book called Chocolate by Trish Deseine, and opened it up to – I kid you not – Third-Month-of-the-Year Cake. Well that was easy.

An English friend had sent the author the recipe for a double layer chocolate cake, with each cake layer topped with meringue before it baked and then sandwiched with whipped cream in the middle. It had no frosting, so made the perfect vehicle for a liquid chocolate ganache, which we poured over top. (Heat some cream – heavy or half & half – to a simmer, remove from the heat and add about an equal amount of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth.)

In order to fancy it up I made a quick hazelnut praline (seriously – quick and easy – try it) to crumble over top. To do this, toast some hazelnuts and rub some of the skins off (or use sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds…) and put them on a baking sheet. In a small saucepan melt about 1/2 cup of sugar (if you want, add a bit of water to help get it started), swirling the pan and brushing down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water if need be, until it turns deep golden. Pour it over the nuts, let it cool, then break or bash it apart. That’s it. (Once the sugar turns golden it is crackly caramel – there is no need for a candy thermometer.)

I was really excited about this, being a lover of Pavlova and of whipped cream. I assembled it there, spreading whipped cream between the layers and crumbling the hazelnut brittle over top before it went out. People loved it (or said they did – of course that’s protocol at a party so doesn’t make the best litmus test) but I was a little deflated. It could be I was too full of Cheezies and pizza, but the cake was a little flat (likely on account of the unsalted butter and lack of salt in the recipe) and the meringue got quite lost amid all that chocolate, the middle layer sort of melting into the whipped cream. (The photo above is of only one layer, which I took before leaving the house. The second layer looked exactly the same.)

It has enormous potential though. Next time I might tweak the cake part by adding some vanilla or coffee to the cocoa mixture and a pinch of salt (I have added these to the recipe below), or just use a different cake recipe – any cake batter will work – and I can’t wait to try baking meringue onto white cake layers. It’s something I did a decade or so ago and which I think of from time to time – served almost strawberry shortcake-style with fresh berries or peaches in season. And of course whipped cream. It would make a perfect spring or summer dessert for a crowd, I think, with each layer served on its own (so as to not melt the meringue) topped with fresh berries or fruit and cream.

AuthorJulie

1 cup whipping cream
Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa, stirred into 1 cup hot water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Meringue
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar (superfine berry sugar if you have it)

1

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cut a couple of circles of waxed paper and place them in the bottom of two 8" or 9" round cake pans - trust me it's worth the extra 2 minutes of effort, since you have to be gingerly with their removal on account of the meringue on top. Spray them, lined with waxed paper, with nonstick spray.

2

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then the cocoa mixture and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat on low just until blended. Divide between the prepared pans and smooth the surface.

3

To make the meringue, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually beat in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff and glossy. Spoon the meringue on top of the cake batter and gently spread into a circle, leaving about an inch clear around the edge to allow it to expand as it bakes.

4

Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, until the meringue is golden and if there is some cake peeking through, it's springy to the touch. Let cool in the pans until just warm, then gently turn them out onto your hand, peel off the waxed paper and cool them on a wire rack.

5

To assemble the cake, whip the cream (adding a bit of sugar if you like) and spread it on one cake layer; top with the other.

6

If you like, sprinkle hazelnut praline over top.

Category

Ingredients

 1 cup whipping cream
Cake
 1/2 cup butter, softened
 1 1/4 cups sugar
 3 large eggs
 1/2 cup cocoa, stirred into 1 cup hot water
 1 tsp. vanilla extract
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 tsp. baking powder
 1/4 tsp. salt
Meringue
 3 large egg whites
 1/2 cup sugar (superfine berry sugar if you have it)

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cut a couple of circles of waxed paper and place them in the bottom of two 8" or 9" round cake pans - trust me it's worth the extra 2 minutes of effort, since you have to be gingerly with their removal on account of the meringue on top. Spray them, lined with waxed paper, with nonstick spray.

2

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then the cocoa mixture and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat on low just until blended. Divide between the prepared pans and smooth the surface.

3

To make the meringue, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually beat in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff and glossy. Spoon the meringue on top of the cake batter and gently spread into a circle, leaving about an inch clear around the edge to allow it to expand as it bakes.

4

Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, until the meringue is golden and if there is some cake peeking through, it's springy to the touch. Let cool in the pans until just warm, then gently turn them out onto your hand, peel off the waxed paper and cool them on a wire rack.

5

To assemble the cake, whip the cream (adding a bit of sugar if you like) and spread it on one cake layer; top with the other.

6

If you like, sprinkle hazelnut praline over top.

Third-Month-of-the-Year Cake

One Year Ago: Big Salads and Hot Crossed Buns

[print_link]

Share

About Julie

You May Also Like

16 comments on “Third-Month-of-the-Year Cake

  1. rea
    March 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    i have a vague recollection of making a cake similar to this a few years ago–dark chocolate and some cherry sauce action and then the meringue on top? it was a single layer cake and turned out fairly well. that said, i only made it once. i think it came from an english recipe source–maybe the guardian newspaper?

  2. robyn
    March 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I would never have thought to do something like this…..it looks delish!

  3. Charmian Christie
    March 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    You had me at hazelnut praline. Looks amazing.

  4. Charissa
    March 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Julie: Could you double check the butter amount? It seems like not enough…GREAT recipe! I’m making it now…Love your blog. Wish you were my neighbor so I could sneak a taste instead of just drooling over the pics.

  5. JulieVR
    March 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    1/2 cup not enough? Ha! I thought it was too much!

  6. Erin
    March 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Wow looks amazing! I have a recipe for a cake that sounds very similiar. Called Venetian Almond torte or something like that made with white cake. Delicious

  7. Manon from Ontario
    March 17, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Hmmmmm looks way too delish to resist!
    I love cake, it’s one of my confort food.

    Crazy week here, kids are off school, the sap is running, and I’m already tired ;(

    I read your blog every day, it picks me up, just like a nice cup of coffee.

    MFO

  8. rea
    March 17, 2009 at 5:26 am

    it was an australian woman’s weekly recipe thus involved weighing out the dry ingreds.

  9. JuneyB
    March 17, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Hi Julie – certainly off topic today but I had to tell you I made the Chicken Thais last night for dinner & it was incredible. Since we’re on the carb free kick, I served it over mixed cabbage slaw dressed with lime juice and chili spiced peanuts. Amazing flavor! Thanks for that one – I’ll be making it often.

  10. Fiona
    March 17, 2009 at 7:51 am

    That looks delicious, even if it didn’t meet your expectations!

    If you do bake meringue into the white cake, you’d better post it here. That sounds like the perfect Mother’s Day cake. Or the perfect “Happy 65th Birthday, Mom!” cake.

  11. Cheryl
    March 17, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Meringue on cake? What a wicked idea!

  12. Allison
    March 17, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Darlin, that cake was anything but flat! I thought it was devine. And OMG the chocolate sauce. For anybody reading this, the cake was a HUGE hit at the party. It’s the only thing the guests keep talking about three days later. Not my enchanting personality or the extreamly fun Paintball battle, no, just THAT cake! Julie you are WAY too critical of your baking. The only thing I will agree with you on is that the meringue got lost under the whipped cream. I liked how the cake looked single layered. I would serve it without the cream and just the pralines and choclate sauce. I’m just sayin……..

  13. Carol SB
    March 17, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Pralines? EASY?? Hmmm… I’m not sure this is a good thing…
    -Carol SB

  14. Elaine
    March 18, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Yeah, I’m going to throw in with the “oh dear lord, how can it be so easy to make pralines” crowd. This might not be the best development for my calorie-counting mind. Any kind of nut brittle (anything in that food group, actually) is something that defies resistance and self-control.

  15. LisaMer
    March 18, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Seriously, Julie. How could you? Don’t you know hazelnuts are my favourite? I don’t think I need an easy, sugary vehicle for them! 😉

    I’m definitely filing this one away for the next time I’m called upon to make cake for a birthday. Yum-o!

    I’ve been reading everyday though I haven’t commented recently. Keeping up with two kids is an art I’m still getting used to!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.