White Forest Cake
This stunning cake, for all its simplicity, is a winner. It is elegant, delicate and delicious, the perfect cake for a birthday or an occasion like Mother's Day. It also makes for an outstanding dessert! Once again, I have used my trusty sponge cake recipe which never fails for me. This was a short 2 layer cake. For a taller cake, simply double the recipe to make 4 layers in which case you will need two baking pans instead of one.
If you do not have cake flour, you can make your own by simply measuring 3/4 cup plain/all purpose flour, then remove 1 and half tbsp from it and substitute with 1 and a half tbsp of cornflour/cornstarch. Sieve together and use as per the recipe.
I normally do not add any baking powder to this cake and the results turn out exceptionally well. The cake's lightness comes from the beating of the eggs, which if done correctly will give the lift needed for the cake to rise well. But if you are worried you can add a quarter tsp of baking powder to help the cake along.
First prepare the syrup. Mix the sugar in hot water and then add the vanilla. Set this aside for later. For the strawberries, select a few that you will place on top of the cake. Slice the rest into thin slices and put them into a bowl. Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp. of sugar over the sliced strawberries and refrigerate. This is called 'maceration'. It helps make the strawberries nice, soft and juicy for the cake filling.
Prepare your 7 or 8 inch cake pan by lining it with grease proof paper and greasing it, then dust it lightly with flour to make sure the cake does not stick.
Preheat the oven at 170 C.
Sift the flour 3 times, then add the pinch of salt to it and set aside.
Put the butter and milk in a small bowl and set aside.
Take a pan filled quarter way with water and put it on the heat, allow it to gently heat up but not come to a rolling boil. We will need this to act as a double boiler in a little while.
Put the eggs and castor sugar in a large bowl and beat using a hand mixer for 30 seconds. Then place this bowl over the prepared pan of simmering water and continue beating the egg mixture for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and turn off the heat. Place the bowl with the butter and milk in this hot water so that it melts gently. Take care that water does not go into the butter/milk mixture.
In the meantime, continue beating the egg mixture for another 4 minutes. Then take a balloon whisk and whisk the egg mixture for a few seconds just to make sure everything is well combined.
Now put the flour in a sieve and sift ALL of it gently over the egg mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour into the egg mixture using long gentle strokes, you can count the strokes, they should not exceed 30. Then add vanilla and the melted butter/milk mixture. Again, fold the mixture with your spatula using gentle strokes, this time not more than 50 strokes. Be very gentle and us a light hand to avoid deflating the batter too much.
Once done, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan once on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Then bake in the preheated oven for about 23 minutes or until skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Careful not to overbake.
Immediately on taking the pan out of the oven, tap it on the counter (pick the pan and drop gently a couple of times) to prevent the cake from shrinking as it cools.
Now turn the cake over on a rack but do not remove the pan. Let the pan cool down until it is easy to handle with your handls without getting burnt.
In the meantime, whip your cream with icing sugar and vanilla and keep it ready.
Lift off the pan, remove the greaseproof paper. Slice each cake in half, then drizzle or brush syrup generously on the inside of both cake slices. Place the first half of the cake on your plate, then add a layer of whipped cream followed by a layer of sliced macerated strawberries. Cover the strawberris with some more whipped cream. Then place the second half of the cake and generously coat the entire cake with whipped cream. Decorate the top with white chocolate shavings adn whole cherries or strawberries. Chill until the cream sets and enjoy your yummy cake.