Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sunday Baking: Gooseberry and Elderflower Cake

I was overjoyed when I found gooseberries in the green grocer last week and I bought plenty to make one batch of curd and freeze enough for a second batch, so it has been curds-away all week here at Bunny Towers. I realised to my horror that the recipe I used last time was now a dead link; however, it wasn't the best recipe ever so I found another and I am pasting my version of it here, just in case:

500g gooseberries
Juice of one lemon
125g unsalted butter
450g granulated sugar
4 large eggs, beaten (200ml)

Stew the gooseberries with the lemon juice until broken up. Press through a sieve into a heatproof bowl; let it cool until it is in a state in which it will not cook the egg. Add the cubed butter, the sugar and the beaten egg. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring regularly, until the curd is really thick - it takes ages, this one. Mine never did get that thick but that's probably because I misread the recipe and only added 50g of butter. Pot in clean jars. Eat with everything.

So, the stage was set for another round of gooseberry and elderflower cake; but, having almost perfected the art of the meringue buttercream, I decided I would try that instead of the usual buttercream. Here was the recipe I used -

4 egg whites
200g sugar
200g butter - I took this out of the fridge first thing, then put it back in the fridge when I started making the buttercream (around 4pm) so it was soft but cool
Elderflower syrup, to taste

This made enough to thickly coat the top and sides of a 10 inch double decker cake filled with gooseberry curd.

Heat the egg whites with the sugar over a saucepan of simmering water until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are hot. Stir regularly to avoid any awkward sweetened scrambled egg whites incidents. Other people (that website has a very excellent explanation of the whole process, by the way) suggest heating to a temperature on a thermometer but I don't bother, I just wait until the egg whites are hot to the touch and steaming a little. It goes without saying, I'm sure, that the bowl should not touch the water.

If you're lucky enough to have a heatproof bowl for your mixer, do it in this; otherwise, transfer the mixture to the bowl of your mixer*. Use the whisk attachment. Put it on high speed and pop off to do something else for a while (I made another cake). You want a situation where the meringue is, quite frankly, bullet proof and the bowl is cool to the touch. By the time I stopped beating mine, I removed the bowl and whisk so I could finish off the other cake, and when I put the whisk down in the bowl, it barely dented the meringue underneath. That stuff was FIRM.

Keep the mixer going, on a slightly lower speed; add the butter a cube at a time. I think I cut mine into nine cubes. I actually cut up a whole 250g block of butter in 12 cubes, but after I'd added half, I stopped and tasted after every addition and then just stopped when it tasted perfect. I keep having batches "go over" on me and get to the point where they sort of taste greasy, so I stopped as soon as it tasted really good.

Add the elderflower syrup to taste and keep beating until it is glossy and lovely. This may take more or less time, depending on (I think) how warm your butter is, probably its water content, maybe how high the tide is, etc.

I also added a bit of green food colouring to mine because that's what I do with elderflower icing.

It went down like a house on fire, but I think it might be my best cake so I am not surprised. I had to rescue this piece for a picture.

* If you don't have a stand mixer, try normal buttercream instead - don't be a hero. I tried it with a hand-held whisk; this was the main reason I finally bit the bullet and bought the Kenwood.

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