Saturday, September 17, 2011

Emulating a Madrileña Birthday

One year ago, Stacy turned 20 in Madrid.  Even though we had only been in the city for a week, and none of us really knew each other, we decided it was no excuse not to celebrate her birthday.  I found a cake at the pastelería near my house, and carried it around for hours as we decided where to eat, eventually deciding upon two restaurants in La Latina.  After dinner, we gobbled down the cake in about 2 minutes in the middle of a dark plaza with plastic forks.

2 minutes after
One year later, Stacy is my best friend, and turning 21 at Wesleyan.  It's funny how much can change in a year's time.  In order to celebrate both her birthday, and the bizarre way in which we all became such close friends, I decided to recreate her 20th birthday madrileña cake.

Chocolate Sponge Layer Cake w/ Whipped Cream and White Chocolate Shavings
Cake recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens' New Baking Book
Yield: 1 double-layer 8" cake

Cake Ingredients
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Separate eggs.  My trick: use three bowls.  One for cracking and separating over, one to put the yolks in and one for the whites.
Beat egg yolks for five minutes until fluffy and lemon-colored.
Sift together flour and cocoa powder.
Add milk, vanilla, and sugar and beat until combined.
Mix in flour and cocoa, 1/4 at a time until combined.
Line 9" cake pans with parchment paper.
With CLEAN beaters in a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Add sugar.  Beat until you have stiff peaks.
Fold egg whites into chocolate batter, 1 cup at a time.
Spoon evenly into cake pans.  Bake at 325°F for 50-60 minutes.
Cool completely on wire racks upside down in pans.  Then loosen sides and remove from pans.  *I missed this step and moved straight to the wire racks, resulting in really dry cakes*
I didn't have time to record the rest of the process because I had 15 minutes to put the rest of the cake together when I got home before we left for dinner, so please bear with me on the lack of pictures.

Beat 2 cups COLD heavy cream with 2 Tbs granulated sugar and 2 tsp vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Do not beat 1 second over stiff peaks.  You will have lumpy, buttery looking whipped-cream that will not be pretty or appetizing.  Spoon half of the whipped cream between the cake layers.  Spread the remainder on top.  Don't worry about making it look smooth, you'll be covering the top anyway.  Scrape flakes off a white chocolate bar and sprinkle liberally over top of cake.  The cake should be eaten immediately after frosting, and if not, store in the refrigerator.

To completely recreate this cake and our experience, it should be eaten barbarian-style where everyone just dives at it with their forks.  :)
Stacy's 21st Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday, Stacy!

Love and cookies,

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