Hi my dearest friends! As I promised, here I am with the recipe and photos from my birthday cake. First I would like to thank you for all the birthday wishes. They made my day even better! Turning 30 years old was not as scary as I thought it would be. In fact it has been the most beautiful time of my life. I’m wonderfully married and I’m learning and making what I discovered to be my passion: baking, photographing and making sugar flowers.
A date so special like this deserves a soul pleasing cake. After think a lot I ended up with an almond sponge cake, soaked with almond rum syrup, filled with dulce de leche custard with hazelnut almond praline, and covered with toasted hazelnut marzipan. For me, nuts with dulce de leche are always a delicious combination and it’s difficult to go wrong with that. I spend two days making and decorating this cake and it was a delight. I learned a lot while I was making the marzipan and blanching the almonds. And for my first time, I learned how to make dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk too. It was a realization in so many ways. Bake your own birthday cake made this day much more special.
Dulce de leche is a great sweet by its own and it makes a delicious filling for cakes even when it is used plain. As you may have noted, I love dulce de leche. That's why I used it a lot on my recipes. But for my 30th birthday cake, I desired to make a more complex filling. Normally I prepare my own dulce de leche using milk and sugar. But this time I used sweetened condensed milk. I adored the result! Then I mixed it with mascarpone and custard, that I prepared with heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar and gelatin. That was just the first part of the filling. The second part was the hazelnut and almond praline. Praline is a confection made from nuts and sugar syrup. It is not so difficult to prepare. Toast the almond and hazelnuts for some minutes, and then mix them with sugar syrup.
Making the marzipan maybe was the most exciting part. It consists in a paste of blanched almonds and sugar syrup. It can be used in confections or to decorate cakes. When it is applied before the fondant, you will get a smooth and perfect finishing for your cake. So I decide give it a try. As I used toasted hazelnuts on the praline filling, I decided to make a toasted hazelnut marzipan recipe from this book. I was surprised how easy blanch almond is. Just boil water, turn off the heat, add the almonds and let soak for some minutes. After that, just squeeze to slide skin off.
Now about the sponge cake recipe... Recently I discovered that incorporate potato starch on the batter makes the cake fluffier and gives it a wonderful texture. For this sponge cake recipe, I used only almonds, potato starch, eggs and sugar. I also made almond rum syrup to moist and add a deep flavor.
And finally the decoration. I had the idea to make these flowers on top of the cake when I was taking the photos of those roses.
The amazing thing about this cake is that everything tastes incredible good as I planned. The sponge cake was very flavorful, and the rum syrup kept it moist. The dulce the leche cream with the praline paired perfectly and the marzipan, made a good base for the fondant.
I loved so much the final result with its layers of flavor and satisfaction.
My Birthday Cake
Almond Sponge Cake
(inspired by the book Laduree Sucre)
makes 4 discs 8-inch
1 cup /120 g whole almonds
2/3 cup / 120 g potato starch
½ cup +2 tbsp / 125 g granulated sugar
Place the almonds and potato starch in a food processor.
Process until the almonds are finely ground.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until pale. In another large dry bowl, with a clean whisk, bring the egg whites to foam. Once they are white and frothy, add the remaining half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm.
Right away, gently fold the sugar and egg yolk mixture into the whipped egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the ground almond and potato starch over the mixture. Gently combine: start with the spatula in the center of the bowl, work up the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture back down towards the center, all the while turning the bowl regularly. Continue until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.
Preheat the oven to 340°F/ 170°C.
Transfer the batter to greased 8-inch baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes until lightly colored. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Almond Rum Syrup
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
1 tsp almond extract
Heat sugar, rum, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely before soak the cake.
Dulce de Leche Custard
(inspired by the book Pierre Herme Patries)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 gelatin sheet
Scant 1 cup (225 g) heavy cream
2 ½ egg yolks (50g)
1/3 cup (65g) superfine granulated sugar
1 cup (250 g) mascarpone cheese
Soak the gelatin in cold water for 20 minutes. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Pour the boiling cream over the egg-sugar mixture, beating hard. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, just until it reaches a temperature of 185°F (85°C). Remove from the heat. Drain and squeeze the gelatin of excess water and incorporate it into the custard. Blend with a handheld immersion blender and set aside to cool.
Place the sweetened condensed milk in a sauce pan and over medium heat stir until dark caramel. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, beat the mascarpone by hand with a whisk until smooth, and then incorporate the custard and the dulce de leche.
Blend with a handheld immersion blender to get a smooth cream.Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted without a tip.
Almond Hazelnut Praline
Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat sugar, corn syrup, and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until deep amber. Stir in nuts. Spread mixture into prepared sheet. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Break praline into pieces, then coarsely grind in a food processor.
Toasted Hazelnut Marzipan
(from the book
15g/7,5 oz almonds, whole, untoasted
215/7,5 oz toasted hazelnuts
120g/4 oz water
Blanch the almonds and toasted hazelnuts in boiling water. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to soak for 5 minutes. Drain the nuts.
Coarsely grind the nuts in a food processor.
Combine the sugar, glucose syrup, and water. Cook to 114C/244F.
Pour the hot syrup over the chopped nuts in a stainless-steel bowl. mix together lightly.
Pour the syrup-coated nuts onto an oiled marble slab. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Grind half of the batch at a time in a food processor until it reaches the desired fine consistency. (This may take 10 minutes or more.) If the marzipan separates during the grinding process, add a small quantity of liquid, such a spirit or boiled syrup, to restore the emulsion.
Combine the ground batches of marzipan. Allow to cool to room temperature, roll, and use as desired. It may be made up days in advance if desired.
Place one layer cake on a serving plate. Brush with 1/4 cup rum syrup. Spread 1 1/2 cups dulce de leche cream over top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup praline. Repeat to make 2 more layers of each. Top with remaining cake. Cover with remaining dulce de leche cream. Cover with marzipan. Decorate as desired.