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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Baking Connie's Danish Heirloom Layer Cake

I came across this recipe on Facebook, posted by Courtney Louper who claimed her friend used to bake it and that it would be your favourite if you tried it. I had a birthday coming up and decided I wanted to try it out on my non-cake-eating family.

Here is the recipe and method exactly as I copied it from the Facebook post:

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So Light and moist ~ Not Too Sweet ~Perfect after a heavy meal!!
This recipe is so different from any cake you have ever tasted!! Give it a try....I know you will love it!!
You can Freeze the layers easily and have a picture perfect cake ready at the drop of a hat!
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 + 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint whipping cream - whipped and sweetened with 1 Tbsp. icing sugar
1 - 2 pounds sliced slightly sweetened strawberries - or fruit of choice
In a medium bowl, mix together with a whisk or wooden spoon, yogurt, sugar, sour cream, egg, salt, baking soda, baking powder. Add flour and vanilla.
Grease or spray 3 - 9" layer pans and divide batter evenly between pans. (the batter will seem skimpy....but spread as evenly as you can with a spatula in each pan - layers will rise on baking).
Bake at 350 oven (325 if using Convection oven 325 oven) Bake for only 10 - 12 minutes....till Very Light Brown. Cool on racks...and remove from pans with a plastic spatula onto racks to finish cooling as soon as you can handle the cakes.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT over bake!! If not using immediately - put wax paper between layers, cover with plastic and refrigerate or freeze till ready to assemble cake.
Layer cake layers: 1/3 sweetened whipped cream and 1/2 sweetened sliced strawberries, or fruit of choice - then 1/3 sweetened whipped cream and 1/2 berries. Last layer - just sweetened whipped cream. Decorate with berries.
This cake tastes even better the next day and the day after that....if there is any left!! The Trick is Not to Over bake the layers...or it will be dry and not nice and moist.
This will soon become Your Favorite Family Cake too!!
Let me start with the results. I doubled the recipe and baked two cakes, because I expected 14 people and one would only just fall short. I fretted over being left with loads of cake afterward, as is often the case. My family will stuff themselves on food and then leave puddings and cakes untouched. There was only one slice of cake left at the end of the day and a number of people went back for seconds. From the 3 yr old to the 71 yr old everybody LOVED it. So the claim is true. You have to try it to believe it. The only draw-back is that it is quite expensive to bake. Let me walk you through the steps and the pitfalls.

The Batter
Before I start baking, I set the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. It is always best to warm your oven beforehand and this way the oven has enough time to warm before the mixture is ready to go in. When you set the oven you will see the light go on. When the light goes off, your oven has reached the required temperature.

I started by adding the yogurt and sour cream. Since I doubled the recipe it was 250 ml of each, otherwise 125 ml each.

I added 2 cups of sugar (500 ml) - only 250 ml for the original recipe.

I added 2 eggs and 2 pinches of salt. A pinch of salt in roughly 1/8 of a teaspoon. (Half this if you're not doubling the recipe).

The next step was to add the rising agents. The recipe requires two rising agents. The first I add is a tbs of baking powder. Baking powder needs an acid to activates it. In this recipe the yogurt will serve as the activator. A tablespoon is approximately 15 ml or 3 teaspoons.

I add the baking powder next. It requires 1 teaspoon in the original recipe, so I double that and add 10 ml. (Baking powder already has its reactor added in the form of Cream of Tartar.) The amount of rising agents added to the mix clues me in to the fact that this cake will be very light and fluffy. This is great to the taste, but a little tricky to work with.

I use my electric beater to mix everything together, but a hand whisk would have worked just as well at this point.

It is now time to add the 3 cups of cake flour to the mix (750 ml). I always use a sieve when adding the dry ingredients. It loosens the particles of the flour and allows air to be trapped, ensuring a lighter and even fluffier result.

I don't like the way the recipe reads at this stage and alters it to get better results. I add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence (10 ml) to my mixture and mix this thoroughly with the blender.

With this done, I add the mix to the flour and beat it to a smooth consistency.

I now call upon my experience to guide me and judge the consistency of the mix to deliver a very moist cake. Added to that the fact that a good deal of rising agents were added to the mix, I suspect that the cake will be very difficult to handle when it comes out of the oven. I therefore take a precautionary step that is not in the original recipe. I spray my pans with a non-stick agent to start with. I then measure my cake tins to cut wax paper to size and line the tins with the wax paper. For the original recipe, that means lining 3 tins. I lined 6 tins.

I then divide the batter between the cake tins and spread it evenly across the bottom using my spatula. It barely covers the bottom, but I can expect it to rise substantially, so I am not worried. (For some reason I did not take a photograph of this and I apologize). I then pop my pans in the oven and within 12 minutes or so they are all done. I leave them in the cake tins until I can handle the tins with my bare hands. That way they sweat a little and will release from the sides and bottom more freely. At this stage I am grateful that I used the wax paper, because it makes it much easier to handle the cakes. I leave the wax paper on the cakes and only remove it once I start stacking them.

The Icing and Topping
I now turn my attention to the icing. (Truth is that I baked this cake the day before, packed each cake in plastic bag to keep moist and only decorated it the next day in time for the party. It kept very well, even at room temperature). I start by sweetening the strawberries. I bought 3 punnets of strawberries (750 g). I wash these and shake them gently to get rid of the worst moisture. I then sprinkle a handful of icing sugar over them and roll them around a bit to make sure they are all covered in the sticky sweetness. The only reason for doing this is to make sure that the those slightly sour strawberries (which you inevitably find in a punnet) is sweetened, making the contrast between cake and fruit more palatable.

I beat 500 ml fresh cream until it is stiff. Then I add 30 ml (3 tablespoons, or to taste) of icing sugar. The recipe does not call for this, but I always add a teaspoon of vanilla to my sweetened cream and this is no exception.

I put the cream in the fridge to chill while I slice the strawberries. I slice 2/3 of the strawberries into thins slices (approximately 4-5 slices per strawberry). I don't want the berries to be too bulky, because it will make it difficult to stack and slice the cake, or to keep it together on the plate when serving it. The left-over strawberries I keep intact, even leaving the leaves on, because the little bit of green will add to the idea of freshness. You can slice them in half, if you want to stretch your strawberries a little.

Time to start stacking. I put the first layer of cake upside down on the plate, allowing the wax paper to assist in handling the cake. I carefully remove the wax paper when the cake is on the plate. I then spread a layer of whipped cream on top and follow that with a layer of strawberries. That is followed by another cake, another layer of whipped cream and another layer of strawberries.

I put the top layer of cake in place, spreading yet a final layer of whipped cream on top. This time I carefully stack my whole strawberries all around the sides and in the centre of the cake.

Time to serve this delicious monstrosity. If you don't serve it immediately, put it in the fridge to prevent the cream from running, especially in the hot summer months.

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