Pastry making should be a mandatory school subject ! It involves chemistry, math, art, some equipment, patience… But above all there is a lot of love in the process ! What would be the reason to spend so much time making something if not to make people around you happy ? Easter is coming up and as promised I am sharing my recipe for a four-layer cake, which I myself am planning to serve my family. With every bite you will have a combination of a very soft, not at all gluten-free tasting, cake, smooth dairy-free pastry cream, and refreshing raspberries.
This is one of the many instances when I am truly sorry that I cannot have you, my dear neighbors, over to taste this festive dessert which involves several steps, but is not in itself that difficult to make. All it requires is a little organization, and trust me, if I managed it, you can too. Sorry for writing some lengthy (boring?) explanations but I wanted to make this tutorial as clear as possible. Hopefully the photos I took when I last made it, back in February, will help too.
Ingredients (pour a 15 x 15 cm / 6 x 6 inch cake)
for the cake :
– 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
– 100 g (3.5 oz) homemade icing sugar*
– 60 g ( 2.1 oz) rice flour
– 40 g (1.4 oz) ORGANIC UNSULFURED almond meal
– 1 tsp natural cane sugar, diluted in 5 TBSP warm water (for moistening)
for the pastry cream : (full recipe here)
as shown in the photo :
– 250 ml (1 cup) almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
– 1 vanilla bean
– 1 egg yolk (freeze the egg white if you don’t know what to do with it… yet)
– 1 TBSP cashew butter, all natural, no added oil or sugar
– 30 g (1 oz) all natural cane sugar
– 15 g (0.5 oz) organic tapioca starch + 1/2 tsp agar-agar, both necessary for the right consistency : you do not want a runny cream in this type of cake.
A second option is my dairy-free buttercream, made with
– 45 g (1.5 oz) non-dairy butter (I use non hydrogenated margarine) at room temperature
– 30g (1 oz) melted coconut oil
– 15 to 20 g (0.5 oz) homemade icing sugar*
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 egg yolk
A third option, if you have problems with starches and must at all costs avoid them, you can try this cake filling (not dairy-free) in Pepsfreefromkitchen
for the fruit filling :
– about 175 g or more (6 oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
for the final decoration :
– 75 g (2.6 oz) organic unsulfured almonds
– a few raspberries + 75 g (2.6 oz) homemade icing sugar*
– mixed berry / raspberry coulis, easy to make, can be made ahead and frozen (recipe here)
* How to make icing sugar : just run your natural cane sugar through a food processor or coffee grinder.
a) up to 10 days ahead : almond prep
1. Bring the almonds to boil in a pan with water and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. You will then be able to peel them very easily.
2. Preheat your oven to 170°C / 335°F (fan-forced) or to 190°C / 375°F (conventional heat). Coarsely chop the peeled almonds, by hand or in a blender.
3. Spread almond pieces on a dish and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them and stirring them gently once or twice so as to get a pretty golden color. Remove and keep in a tightly closed glass jar once completely cooled. Resist the temptation to use them as a snack before the cake is made !!!
b) 2 days ahead or the day before : make the pastry cream of your choice
For a traditional French pastry cream, gluten-free and dairy-free, follow my instructions here.
For a non-dairy easy buttercream, (second option)…
… just combine the ingredients listed above, beat everything together until well blended !
For a starch-free filling, (third option) follow Jack’s instructions here
c) on the day of : making the cake (estimated time needed : 30 to 45 mn)
1. Trace out two 30 x 15 cm (12 x 6 inch) rectangles on 2 separate sheets of lining paper with a marker. Flip the paper over and fold it on each side about one centimeter (1/2 an inch) away from traced rectangles. This will make a paper case and ensure that your cake batter will not spread too much. You do need the extra space to make a clean cut before assembling the cake. Grease the paper up to the folds.
Also weigh the empty mixing bowl in which you will make the batter. (weight a)
2. Preheat the oven to 185°C / 365°F, if fan-forced, or up to 200°C / 390°F, if using conventional heat.
3. Beat the 4 egg yolks with the 100 g (3.5 oz) icing sugar until batter becomes lighter in color and a « ribbon » forms when lifting a spatula. Beat egg whites until peaks form. If you own a stand-alone mixer, this can be done while you are tending to the yolks and sugar batter.
3. Add in the 60 g ( 2.1 oz) flour and 40 g (1.4 oz) almond meal, mixing well, then gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Weigh the bowl again (weight b) and calculate the weight of your batter (weight b – weight a).
4. Place one of the greased « paper molds » on a baking tray and pour half the batter as evenly as you can, with the help of a rubber spatula. Bake for about 6 minutes. Remove and flip the baked rectangle on a wet (and clean ^^) kitchen towel. Peel off paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
5. Moisten each baked layer with sugared water, using a spoon, then cut out two 15×15 cm (6×6 inch) squares from each one. You now have four equal cake layers.
d) on the day of : assembling the cake (estimated time needed : 30 mn)
1. Place a first layer on your serving plate. Lightly brush with coulis, if desired.
(This step adds more taste and color to the cake but it is totally up to you.)
2. Spread as evenly as possible with 1/3 of the cream filling of your choice (90g of my pastry cream), then add as many raspberries as you want. Keep in mind that you need them evenly placed, especially along the edges : they will serve as pillars for your next cake layer. Now we’re talking architecture too !
( Next time I’ll add a few more raspberries I think.)
3. Place a second, then a third layer repeating step 1.
4. Place the last layer on top ; it’s time to make the icing. Mash a few raspberries in a sieve in order to gain 1 TBSP juice. Add 75 g ( 2.6 oz) icing sugar and stir with a spoon.
Spread on the top layer of the cake ; using a long pastry spatula makes the job easier. Don’t worry if it isn’t as pretty as you would like it.
5. Finishing touch, almost there ! Put the toasted almond pieces around your cake and cover all sides pressing them up with a spatula or the back of a big spoon. You should have more than enough and can use any leftovers to sprinkle on top of your cake… and maybe cover any imperfections !
Congratulations, you have just made a beautiful cake ! Keep in the refridgerator until serving time, protected by a big bowl (I use a plastic strainer) placed over it.
Adding the coulis makes the different layers appear more neatly when you cut through the cake.