Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Ukraine: Philosophy Meets Cake (Kiev Cake)

Flag of Ukraine

What is the first thought that comes to your head when I say ‘Karl Marx’? I would assume that those two words are not going to be automatically followed by ‘Confectionary Factory’, but that is in fact what we will be thinking about today. The company is the biggest company of this type in Ukraine and was named in honour of the philosopher and socialist’s 105th anniversary. Personally I feel that we should start a trend – desserts would make complex political thought far more accessible. I’m suggesting ‘Descartes Desserts’, ‘Confucious’s Confections’ and ‘Kant’s C/Kakes’ – any other suggestions?

Ukrainian Cake 3

Before you all think I’ve gone completely off my head, there is a link to all this. Today’s cake from the Ukraine is this delicious delicacy, the ‘Kiev Cake’, which was crated by the Karl Marx Confectionary Factory and is one of their most famous desserts, now seen as a symbol of Kiev itself. I’m using the term ‘cake’ here rather loosely, as this is technically probably more of a gateaux, featuring layers of meringue and buttercream fillings. My recipe is adapted from this recipe at GrabandGoRecipes, though I did end up making a few differences to the eventual result, starting by downsizing the recipe to make a more reasonably sized cake for two people!  Nevertheless it is absolutely delicious and I cannot recommend making this enough!

Ukrainian Cake 1

As a side note, does anyone know why the Balkan countries seem to have a preference for complex layer cakes? It seems to be a common trend within the Eastern European countries not shared with those of the western countries. I can’t seem to find any rhyme or reason for this, but if you can enlighten me, I would be very grateful!

Ukrainian Cake 2

Kiev Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 5oz caster sugar
  • 5oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 5 oz caster sugar

Creamy frosting:

  • 5oz condensed milk
  • 4oz butter
  • 7oz cream cheese
  • 4oz double cream, whipped to form soft peaks

Syrup:

  • 7oz tinned apricots, syrup retained. (the fruit can be changed according to your taste – I have also used raspberries, in this case, simply substituting a punnet of raspberries.
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Instructions:

Like quite a few of the cakes that have featured from these region, the cake includes lots of different processes, so please read the recipe through first – it will help your baking run a lot smoother!

First, preheat the oven to 350°F/170°C/Gas Mark 4 and line and grease a baking dish ready for use later. Start by making the sponge; separate your eggs and beat the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks. In a different bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale before adding the flour and vanilla extract. Fold the egg white mixture into this, being very gentle so as to not knock the air out of the egg whites. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, testing with a toothpick to see if it is complete. When it is done, take it out of the oven and set aside to cool before removing from the tin.

Once the cake is out of the oven, turn the oven down to 250°F/120°C/Gas Mark 1. Prepare your dish for the meringue – this needs to be the same size as the cake, so if you do not own two dishes the same size (let’s face it, most of us probably don’t!), then wait for the cake to cool, remove from the tin and wash and re-line the tin. To make the meringues, whip the eggs whites  and sugar (added in small amounts) on high for about 5 minutes until they form stiff peaks. Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for 4 hours in the oven (you might want to set a timer and go and do something else whilst this is happening!) Take it out and carefully peel the meringue layer from the parchment paper. [Note: because this part is so long, I would suggest doing this the day before if you are not in a rush – the meringue will be fine sitting on the side all night as long as you cover it.]

Next, time to make the syrup and the cream cheese frosting. The syrup could not be easier – stick the whole lot in a blender and puree until smooth. The frosting is not much harder; start by beating the condensed milk and butter before gradually adding in the cream cheese. Once this mixture is nice and thick, stir in the whipped cream (on a slower speed if using a machine).

Now comes the fun bit – putting it together! I would do this on the plate you intend to serve it on – it makes life so much easier! Start by slicing the sponge cake into two layers using a long, serrated knife. place the bottom half on the plate and top with some of the syrup, waiting for about 5 minutes to ensure all the syrup has soaked into the cake. Spread a thin(-ish) layer of frosting (about 1/4) o the top of this and top with the slice of meringue trimming the edges as necessary. Spread some more cream onto the top and top with the remaining sponge cake, again soaked with the remainder of the syrup. Top with the reminder of the frosting (traditionally you would also cover the sides of the cake, but I prefer to have a little less frosting! Decorate with crushed meringue (reserved after you trimmed it earlier), chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. Leave to chill slightly and enjoy!

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Baking · Cake

Baking Brave: Chocolate Brownie Meringue Torte

imagesDo you have a competitive streak? Most of us will have a tendency towards a form of competition, whether it be in academic or social terms. Mine is generally dormant – usually I’m quite good at thinking positively and non-competitively towards my actions and those of others. However, there is an exception to this, and for me that exception is baking.

When it comes to the culinary arts, I have a real ‘can-do’ attitude. Paul Hollywood tells us how difficult macaroons are to make, I obsess over them for the next few months until I can make them right. Puff pastry is seem as too difficult to make for amateurs – I’ll prove them wrong! As the for the dreaded croquembouche, I’ve got you in my sights… Therefore when World Baking Day announced their bake brave challenge, with 100 cakes of different levels of difficulty, I imediately clicked on no. 100 – the hardest.

Raspberry Torte Final

Yes, my competitive spirit kicked in big time, but then reality struck. Whilst a choux pastry tower would be impressive, it was not going to be a suitable choice. Not because I couldn’t do it, but rather because we couldn’t eat it. So reluctantly I scaled down my ambition and settled on option 91 – the chocolate brownie raspberry torte. My sense of pride only slightly dented, I made this cake, constructed it and promptly had to hide the leftovers – what more needs to be said!

raspberry torte 4

This recipe also forms my entry for the Calendar Cakes Challenge, being hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes, which
challenged you to make one of the cakes from the Bake Brave 100 list

calendar-cakes

Chocolate Brownie Meringue Torte

Ingredients:

Brownie base:

  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate
  • 200g margarine
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 110g plain flour

Meringue topping

  • 4 medium free-range egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g chopped roasted hazelnuts

To fill:

  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 300g fresh raspberries

To finish (optional):

  • 200g fresh raspberries
  • 100g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Roughly chop the chocolate, set 20g aside for later, and put the remaining 180g into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of steaming water and leave to melt gently, stirring frequently. (Do use a bain-marie, rather than try and melt it in a saucepan like I did – first lot of chocolate had a nice burnt taste to it…)

Meanwhile, beat the soft margarine with the icing sugar until very light, creamy and fluffy before adding the eggs, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour and the cooled, melted chocolate. When thoroughly combined, stir in the reserved chopped chocolate. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and spread it out evenly. Bake for 8 minutes – the mixture will not be cooked but will have started to form a crust.

While the mixture is baking, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the sugar in four batches, to make a smooth and glossy, thick meringue. Fold in the chopped hazelnuts (I have also used almonds which also work well)

Remove the cake tins from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Divide the meringue equally between the two brownie-filled tins, and gently spread it over the still soft mixture to cover evenly. Bake for another 35-40 minutes until the meringue is golden and the brownie cooked! If the meringue looks like it is burning, cover with foil.

To make the filling, whisk the cream until soft peaks form, then add the icing sugar and 200g of the raspberries. Whisk briefly, to make a thick, pink cream. Fold in the remaining 100g of raspberries.

Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the cakes. Turn out the flat-topped meringue cake on to a serving plate, meringue-side down. Spread with the raspberry cream and top with the second cake. Decorate with the remaining raspberries and hazelnuts if wished.

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Georgia: Walnut Cake

Flag of Republic of Georgia Italiano: Bandiera...

For a small country, the influence of Georgian food has spread though much of the former USSR, due to the immigration of many Georgians to different countries. It is extremely diverse, taking influence from the cuisines of the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In Russia, it is said that all cities have a Georgian restaurant and other restaurants will tend to include some form of Georgian Cuisine on their menus. Having said this, all my research seemed to turn up was either the cuisine of Georgia, USA or the cuisine of the Georgian and Regency periods – neither of which are massively useful!

I kept searching, willing the internet and what books I had to provide interesting ideas. I read a lot about the Supra style of dining and the role of the tamada, whose job it is to make highly philosophical toasts thoughout the meal. I learnt that Georgia has three distinct alphabets and that the story of the Golden Fleece originates from Georgia, as they used to use fleeces to sift gold particles out of the river. I even learn that my favourite Masterchef Australia contestant from last year Alice Zaslavsky is from Georgia. All good stuff, but did it help me in the cake hunt? No it did not!

DSC_0594

Finally, I came upon this recipe for a Georgian walnut cake. This cake is similar to a gateaux in many ways, consisting of layers of cake and walnut meringue, covered with a chocolate glaze. Don’t be put off by the sour cream in the glaze – you can’t taste it in the final mixture – I was quite glad about this, as it’s not my favourite flavour!  The recipe is adapted from here.

DSC_0600

Walnut Cake

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 200g butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Filling:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin. Set aside.

Mix together the butter, sugar, baking powder and flour before adding the egg yolks and sour cream to form a ball. Turn out and knead for a couple of minutes before placing in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes.

To make the filling, whip the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts.

To assemble the cake, take the chilled dough and cut into three pieces. Roll out the first piece and place in the bottom of the greased tin. Add a layer of the filling to cover this first layer. Roll out the second piece of dough and repeat the process, layering up the dough and filling before finishing with a final layer of dough. Bake for 30 minutes before removing and leaving to cool. Remove from the tin after 5 minutes to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Make the glaze by combining the sugar, cocoa powder and sour cream in a small pan. Heat gently until the mixture combines and becomes glossy. Cover the cake with the glaze and leave to set. Decorate with chopped walnuts as desired.