Recipe: A Cake for Special Occasions

A cake to grace any party table…

Classic baker Martjie Malan’s cookbook, Baking Secrets: Recipes for Every Occasion, is filled with an essential selection of quality recipes.

She shares not only her passion for baking, but also some of her secrets, giving you the confidence to try and master even the most technical of cakes.

Basic sponge cake

This is my go-to recipe: A soft sponge with a fine crumb and beautiful texture that can be transformed by adding any number of exciting and different syrup flavours.

The base is deliciously sweet and absorbs syrup like a sponge – hence the name! It also keeps very well and can be frozen for later use. The technique takes some practice and precision, but once you have mastered it, this cake will give you great pleasure and you’ll be making it over and over again.

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!” C. JoyBell C.

Ingredients

Basic sponge cake

770 g butter
180 g cake flour
15 ml cornflour
200 g sugar
pinch of salt
6 eggs

Lemon syrup

125 ml fresh lemon juice
100 g sugar

Raspberry-and-lemon icing

400 g butter, at room temperature
600 g icing sugar
juice of 1 medium lemon
200 g raspberries

Equipment

20 cm round cake pan or 2 x 15 cm cake pans lined with baking paper
Double boiler
Electric mixer
Broad paddle
Sharp knife or palette knife
Small saucepan
Cake cutter

Method

Basic sponge cake

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line the bottom of a cake pan with baking paper – don’t spray the pan or spread with butter. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Sieve the cake flour and cornflour into a mixing bowl and keep at hand. Prepare a double boiler with 2 cups of water heated over medium heat.

Place the sugar, salt and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until well mixed. Place the mixing bowl over the simmering water and beat continuously using a wire whisk. The egg mixture should become warm and the sugar must dissolve. Test regularly to check whether the mixture is warm, and remove from the heat as soon as it is hot.

Place the mixing bowl in the electric mixer and beat with the balloon whisk at a high speed. The mixture should increase to three times its original volume, and be light in colour. Whisk until the mixture has cooled – about 5–7 minutes.

Use a broad paddle to carefully fold in the flour mixture; do this in three separate batches. Stir 2 tablespoons of the egg-and-flour mixture into the melted butter. Add this back to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients and fold through well, careful not to lose too much volume. The mixture should be light, almost foamy, and have a light colour.

Pour the cake batter into the cake pan or pans and bake for 25–30 minutes. Allow to cool and cut carefully around the edge of the pan with a thin, sharp knife or palette knife. Keep the blade as close to the cake pan as possible.

Lemon syrup

Cook the ingredients in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes syrupy.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Raspberry-and-lemon icing

Place the butter in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft and smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat at a medium speed until the icing is white and creamy – about 5 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and beat through well. Add the raspberries and mix through at a slow speed. Add a tablespoon of boiling water to make the mixture easily spreadable.

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About the book

Baking Secrets: Recipes for Every Occassion by Martjie Malan is published by Quivertree Publishers and is available at leading bookstores and select online retailers.