Happy Birthday Alana :o)
I wanted to bake something for my friend’s birthday today, and I debated back and forth for quite a while at what to make. It was between a fruit tart, or a cheesecake, or maybe even some confectionery, but in the end I found this recipe for a mini individual Italian sponge cake (a Genoise) in this wonderful book that I bought a while back from a used book store. It’s a very light and airy cake that works perfectly because of the small size. I covered it in a simple ganache, and decorated with white chocolate flowers, but the ‘Happy Birthday’ that I had planned to pipe onto the top didn’t make it – my piping skills have to be practiced a little more – I barely managed her name on the plate (and that even took a couple of tries which were wiped off!!! :o)
Mini Birthday Cake
4 inch diam.
2 Tbs unsalted butter, plus more for greasing cake pans
⅓ cup all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for flouring the cake pans
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp hot tap water
1 large egg, at room temp
1 large egg yolk, at room temp
¼ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
¼ cup plus 2 Tbs whipping cream
5 oz dark bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
dark chocolate chips (to make centre of flowers)
- preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- butter and flour the bottom of two, four inch diam mini cake pans (I bought these from a local kitchen supply store, but they shouldn’t be too difficult to find)
- place the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the butter melts, 30-40 seconds. Set aside to cool.
- warm a small bowl by letting hot tap water run into and over the bowl. Dry the bowl thoroughly and add the sugar.
- stir in the 2 teaspoons of hot tap water until all the sugar is covered.
- add the egg and egg yolk, and using a hand-help electric mixer, beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale in colour, about 5 minutes (when you lift the beaters a ‘ribbon’ of batter should sit on the top for a second before sinking in.)
- gently fold the vanilla extract into the egg mixture.
- sift the flour and salt over the top and using a whisk, gently fold into the mixture until incorporated.
- whisk 3 tablespoons of the batter into the melted butter, then gently fold back into the main batter until just blended.
- spoon the batter evenly between the cake pans and place onto a baking sheet, for easier handling.
- bake until the centers are springy and the sides are beginning to pull away from the pans, about 15 minutes.
- remove the pans from the oven, and immediately run the tip of a sharp knife around the edge of each cake (this will stop the crust from sticking to the top edge of the pan as it cools and shrinks).
- let them cool, still in the pans, for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
- carefully remove them from the pans and let them cool completely on the rack.
- meanwhile you can make the ganache.
- pour the whipping cream into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips, swirling the pan to submerge the chocolate in the hot cream.
- let the mixture stand until the chocolate softens, about 1 minute, then stir with a whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- allow it to cool for about 1 hour, then use immediately.
- while you’re waiting for the ganache to cool you can make the chocolate flowers.
- place the white chocolate chips into a small microwaveable dish and microwave in 20 second increments until melted; set aside for a couple of minutes until it’s cool enough to handle.
- if you have a small tipped piping bag you can use that, or as I did (a piping kit is on my ‘to get’ list) you can roll a piece of wax paper into a cone and cut a small hole in the tip.
- spoon in the melted chocolate and roll down the top to close it and make handling easier.
- onto a piece of wax paper pipe the outline of your flowers and then go back and fill in each petal with more chocolate.
- press one dark chocolate chip into the centre of each flower and place the sheet into the freezer until the chocolate is set; is should only take about 10 minutes.
- by now the cakes and ganache should be cool enough to assemble.
- put about a tablespoon of the ganache on the top of one cake and spread to the edges; place the other cake on the top to make two layers.
- gently pour the rest of the ganache over the top of the cake and using a knife or small spatula spread it across the top and down the sides to cover the sponge completely. (for easy cleanup I kept the cake on the wire rack with a piece of wax paper underneath to catch any drips.
- using a clean spatula, very gently lift the cake and place it on a serving plate.
- while the ganache is still soft, gently press the hardened flowers into the top of the cake and place the whole thing into the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Mini Birthday Cake ingredients.
butter and flour two, 4 inch cake pans.
place the sugar into a warm bowl and add 2 teaspoons of hot tap water.
add the egg and egg yolk.
with a hand held electric whisk, beat until….
lightened in colour, about 5 minutes.
sift the flour and salt into the egg mixture and gently blend.
add 3 tablespoons of the batter to the melted butter, whisk and then add back to the main batter and mix gently until blended.
pour into the prepared cake pans and bake.
run a sharp knife around the edges so they don’t stick and cool in the pans for 10 minutes, before removing from the pans to cool completely. Meanwhile….
pour the whipping cream into a small saucepan….
and bring to a boil.
add the chocolate chips and swirl to cover with the hot cream; leave for 1 minute for the chocolate to soften, then…whisk, until….
blended and smooth.Now for the flowers…
melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave in 20 second increments, and make a small piping bag out of wax paper (unless you have a small one already).
on a piece of wax paper, pipe the outline of the flowers, going back and filling in the petals with more chocolate; gently press a dark chocolate chip into the centre to complete the flowers. Pop into the freezer to harden for 10 minutes.
spread about a tablespoon of cooled ganache onto the top of one cake and sandwich together with the other.
pour over the remaining ganache and using a knife or small spatula spread it around the top and down the sides to cover the sponge cake.
carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate using a clean spatula and gently press in the flowers to the soft ganache; if you’re feeling creative you can pipe names or messages directly onto the plate – at least this way (as happened with me) if you make mistakes it’s easier to wipe off and try again than it is if you pipe onto the cake!! :o)
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