Heart Shaped Strawberry and Layered Cake

Makes 1x 25cm/10in cake Preparation time 1hr 15 minutes, plus chilling Cooking time 30-35 minutes...
                                 This showstopper comprises a heart-filled orange cake covered with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream and a white chocolate drip. I have finished it with fresh fruit, hand-decorated macarons and dried rosebuds. İt's like a secret garden on a secret heart cake.

İNGREDİENTS (For the sponge)...
~ Melted butter, for greasing
~ 360g/ 12 ½oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
~ 360g/ 12 ½oz golden caster sugar
~ 6 large eggs (weigh the eggs to ensure you have the same weight as the butter, sugar and flour: 360g/ 12 ½oz)
~ 360g/ 12 ½oz sekf-raising flour
~ Grated zest of 2 oranges
~ 2 tsp orange oil
~ 2 tsp vanilla extract
~ 100ml/ 4fl oz milk (if needed)

For the Swiss meringue buttercream...
~ 230ml/ 8 ¼fl oz egg whites
~ 400g/ 14oz golden caster sugar
~ 500g/ 1lb 2oz unsalted butter, chilled but removed from the fridge 30 minutes before using
~ 4 tsp vanilla extract
~ 50g/ 2oz freeze-dried strawberry powder

For the whitte chocolate drip...
~ 75ml/ 3fl oz double cream
~ 225g/ 8oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
~ Super white colouring (optional)

For the decoration...
~ Selection of fresh fruits
~ Macarons
~ Dried rosebuds
~ Small sugar pearls
                                 Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F (170°C, 325°F fan), Gas 5. Brush 2 x 21cm/8 ¼in round, hearth-fill cake tins (available as a set) with melted butter. First make the sponge. İn a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a jug, then gradually pour into the creamed mixture, mixing until fully incorporated. Sift in the flour and fold in. Add the orange zest, orange oil and vanilla extract and continue to fold until the mixture is smooth. İf needed, add enough milk to create a dropping consistency.

                                 Transfer to the 2 tins - one tin is slightly deeper than the other, so allow for this - and smooth the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes (the cake with more mix may need the extra 5 minutes), until risen and golden. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool in their tins on a wire rack. When cool, remove from the tins, wrap loosely in clingfilm and chill to firm before filling.

                                 To make the Swiss meringue buttercream, heat the egg whites and sugar together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring all the time until the egg/sugar temperature reaches 65-71°C (149-160°F). Remove from the heat and transfer the bowl to a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg and sugar until a thick glossy meringue forms and the meringue cools. Change the whisk attacment for the beater. Add the chilled butter in small cubes and beat until fully incorporated an thick. Add the vanilla extract and strawberry powder to taste and beat in.

                                 To assemble the cake, first trim the crust off both cakes (so there is no visible line in the middle of the cake). Fill a piping bag with the buttercream, then fill each half of the heart on the cakes and level with a small palette knife. Place the bottom cake half on a large sheet of baking paper on a tray. İmmediately turn the top cake half on top and settle into position. Using a palette knife, spread half the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a scraper to create smooth, flat sides and top. Chill for 15-30 minutes until firm to the touch. Add a second layer with the remaining buttercream to ensure the cake is evenly covered.

                                 To make the white chocolate drip, pleace the cream and white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Heat in the microwave gently - or set over a pan of gently simmering water - until the chocolate has fully melted. Mix until smooth. İf liked, add a few drops of super white colouring to make the drip white and apoque. Transfer the cake to a stand. Fill a piping bag with the white chocolate drip and drip around the edges of the cake. Cover the top and smooth over. Decorate with fruits, macarons, dried rosebuds and sugar pearls.

(This cake will keep for 2-3 days, store in the fridge but eat at room temperature.)
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