Tuesday, May 21, 2013

World Baking Day Challenge: Milk tart cake

It isn't every day that two men in black suits with aviators and ear pieces arrive at your office carrying a locked box. It also isn't every day that you hear the words, 'Katelyn, do you accept the challenge to bake brave?' Erm, hells yes I do! Even though I had no idea what that meant! What kind of an awesome/stupid question is THAT?! After tweeting my answer (I had to resist the urge to just type 'duh') I received the secret code that unlocked the padlock. 'What was in the box?!' I hear you screaming, well, in it was everything I needed to make a ridiculously beautiful-looking milk tart cake. This cake.

It was created by gateau queen Katrien van Zyl for the World Baking Day website and is ranked at level 45/100. Those chocolate curls?! That intricate collar?! Oh my, this was going to be quite a challenge! So the box sat on my counter for a week in the run up to World Baking Day on 19 May in the hope that it would  psyche me up and drum up my bravery. Instead it haunted me until that fateful Sunday morning... 

First up, I sussed out my ingredients (brace yourself, it's quite a list!):

‘Milk tart’ Filling Ingredients
500 ml (2 cups) full fat milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) butter or margarine
1x 385 g can of sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg
45 ml (3 tbsp) cornflour
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
Powdered cinnamon, to taste

Cake Ingredients:
360 g (3 cups) self-raising flour
350 g (1¾ cup) white sugar
350 g (1½ cups) butter or margarine, softened (or at room temperature)
6 large eggs
80 ml (⅓ cup) milk
15 ml (1 tbsp) vanilla essence

Ganache Coating Ingredients:
125 ml (½ cup) whipping cream
15 ml (1 tbsp) butter or margarine
1 cinnamon stick
375 g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

50 g dark chocolate, melted
500 ml (2 cups) full fat milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) butter or margarine
1x 385 g can of sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg
45 ml (3 tbsp) cornflour
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
Powdered cinnamon, to taste

1 x Chocolatier (optional, but definitely advised), preferably Italian, and hot 

Although the original recipe started with the cake, I made the milk tart filling first so it could cool. The filling  is basically a creme patisserie made with condensed milk, because in South Africa, everything is made better by adding condensed milk. Fact. I wanted mine a little lighter, so I folded in some whipped cream once it has cooled. More whipped cream is never a bad thing - ever.

Heat together the milk, margarine and condensed milk in a pot on the stove at medium heat until the margarine has melted. Whisk the egg, cornflour and vanilla essence in a bowl and while whisking, pour some of the heated milk mixture onto the egg mixture. Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the pot and heat it on medium heat on the stove while stirring continuously for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat. Pour the thickened mixture into a bowl, place cling wrap over the surface to prevent a skin forming and place it in the refrigerator until cool, preferably overnight.

That wasn't SO hard! I felt quite chuffed with myself. 

Next, I tackled the cake. I've never actually prepared a cake using this method before - the ingredients list hints at it being a pound cake but the process is somewhat different. Chocolatier then informed me that it is actually a German 'Sandkuchen' or sand cake (you will notice that Chocolatier comes in handy quite often in this post). 

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, softened margarine and eggs. Mix for 30 seconds with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the milk and vanilla essence and beat for another 1 minute and 30 seconds or until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Spoon equal amounts of batter into two 20cm lined cake tins and bake for about 50 minutes at 160C or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cakes done, filling done - now for my favourite part, the chocolate! Chop the white chocolate finely so it melts properly - or get a chocolatier to do it for you. I just happened to have one lying around so...


Gently heat the cream with the cinnamon stick in a pot on the stove. Bring the cream to just below boiling point. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the cream to cool for the cinnamon stick to infuse the cream with its subtle flavour. Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Remove the cinnamon stick from the cream and pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Heat the chocolate and cream mixture in a microwave oven at 20% power or at the Defrost setting. Stir at 2-minute intervals until the mixture is melted and smooth. Leave the ganache in the refrigerator to set for a few hours or overnight.

The next part of the recipe made me shake in my apron. Chocolate curls? Ask me to eat them, I can totally do that. Make them? Ain't nobody got time for that! So, again, having a Chocolatier lying around I put him to work and watched him melt his magic while I sat and enjoyed a glass of wine. This is advisable. No wait, actually it is a must.

Chocolatier warmed the slab of chocolate with his hands (although I strongly suspect the chocolate actually melted because he was standing near it... If you know what I mean!) and then used a knife and a round cookie cutter to make beautiful chocolate curls for the top of the cake. 

Spread three of the layers with ‘milk tart’ filling; sprinkle powdered cinnamon between the layers and stack the layers on top of one another. (It's advisable to assemble the cake back in the springform tin to stop everything squishing out!) Spread some of the ganache over the cake to cover completely then refrigerate until set. Melt the remaining ganache and pour over to make a thin coating. 

Oh be still my beating heart! I got hot Chocolatier to put 2 layers of ganache on the cake, mainly so I could watch him do it twice. Oh yes. 

Measure the height and circumference of the cake and cut a piece of greaseproof paper to this size. Pour 50 g melted chocolate into a zip-lock bag, snip off a small piece at one corner of the bag to make a piping bag and pipe swirls on the greaseproof paper. Before the chocolate sets, lift the paper off your workbench and fold it around the cake with the decorations on the inside. Peel the paper off the chocolate to reveal a lace pattern on the cake.Decorate the top of the cake with powdered cinnamon, cinnamon sticks or chocolate curls.

And then it should look like this... ta-da! NAILED IT! 

This cake really was delicious and not just a pretty face! The challenge here is the chocolate work, leave that out and it's actually a pretty straight-forward, simple and yummy cake! So give it a go!

Now, to come up with another excuse to get hot Chocolatier back in my kitchen...