For Christmas this year, I have decided to make a classic fluffy vanilla sponge cake, layered with mixed berry compote and Italian Meringue Buttercream. The best part about this cake for me will definitely have to be the piping and decorating of the cake itself with lots of fun sprinkles.
What I also like about this buttercream cake is the freshness of the summerfruit compote and the lightness of the sponge cake.
Not particularly fond of Melbourne's Christmas as it always reminds me how I have been so misguided by "Western Christmas always falls on a Winter". Turns out, Australian Christmas blazes the hottest air on this festive day much more than my home country in Malaysia. I guess I don't really need to explain further why I always choose fresh summer fruits as a Christmas dessert. Just hope that it survived the trip to my in laws. :)
VANILLA SPONGE CAKE
Yield: 4 x 14cm cake
Equipment: 4 x 16cm cake ring , 1 x 14cm cake ring for trimming
Full Cream Milk
Vanilla Bean Paste
Whole Eggs - Room Temperature
Unsalted Butter - Cold
MIXED BERRY COMPOTE
Frozen Mixed Berries
Zest of Lemon
Vanilla Bean Paste
ITALIAN MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Egg Whites - Room Temperature
Vanilla Bean Paste
Cream of Tartar
Raspberry Oil Based Gel Color
Green Oil Based Gel Color
*Reserve approximately 300g of the buttercream to make it green.
*Put aside 200 g of plain buttercream to be mixed with the raspberry colored buttercream for a light pink color contrast.
FOR THE VANILLA SPONGE CAKE
Line each cake ring with parchment paper on the base and around the borders. Seal the base with some cling film for extra security to prevent from any leaking during baking.
Slightly warm up the milk to room temperature by heating it in the microwave to between 20 - 25 degrees celcius.
Meanwhile, cut the butter to 3 - 4 cm cubes (does not have to be perfect). Place the cold butter cubes, flour, sugar, baking powder and bi-carbonate soda in a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low to medium speed until they resembles a coarse bread crumbs.
Mix the warm milk with room temperature eggs and oil and whisk until they are well mixed through.
Gradually stream the liquid into the dry mixture while continously mixing on low speed. Scrape the bowl down to avoid any lumps regularly while continously adding in the liquid until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Divide the cake batter to 4 x 330 g . Bake the cake in the oven pre heated to 175C for 35 minutes or when tested with a skewer, it comes out clean.
Remove the baked cakes from the oven and leave in the rings to cool for 15 minutes before removing the baking baking and foil to fully cool on the wire rack.
Once the cakes are fully cooled, trim off the top to level off the cakes. Using a 14cm cake ring as a guide, trim off the edges. Repeat this process for the rest of the sponge cakes.
FOR THE MIXED BERRY JAM
Place the frozen mixed berries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a deep sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Continue to cook while stirring until it starts to reduce and thicken. (To test if the jam is ready, spread out some of the mixture onto a cold bench and look for the desired consistency. The jam should still be spreadable but does not run too much or is too liquid)
Pour the jam in a clean bowl, and cover with cling film touching the top and leave to cool completely in the fridge ready for assembly.
FOR THE ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM
Cut the butter to roughly around 3 - 4 cm cubes and keep at room temperature but still cold. The butter should be between 15 - 18C.
Place the room temperature eggs in clean mixer bowl and add in 1/4 teaspoon of crem of tartar.
Place the water in a clean deep saucepan then add in the sugar. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and continue to boil until it reaches 110C.
Once it reaches 110 C, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed until it reaches medium peak (ensure that there is no liquid egg whites and the meringue is completely foamed).
Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 118C.
Reduce the speed on the mixer to low then gradually stream in the hot syrup into the meringue. Once all the sugar syrup has been added, increase the speed to high speed and continue to whisk until it cools down to 25C.
Add in the cold but pliable butter gradually and continue to whisk. As soon as all the butter are added, the mixture should start to thicken to a buttercream consistency.
Remove 300 of the plain buttercream and mix with green color.
Once you have added the color and achieved the desired color, change to a paddle attachment and continue to mix the buttercream on low speed to get rid of the air pockets. Depending on how much air you have incorporated, the mixing time can range grom 10 minutes more or less.
Once the buttercream are ready. Pipe a border with 1cm plain tip around the border on the first layer of sponge. Fill the center with the cooled compote. Repeat this process with the next two layer.
Proceed to crumb coating the cake. Place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes and continue with the last masking of the cake.
Adjust the remainder of the buttercream by adding some plain buttercream for a lighter hue.
Add green oil based color to the 300g of buttercream to pipe the wreath and christmas tree.
Decorate around the wreaths with different size star tip. top with sprinkles then reserve the cake in the fridge for atleast 2 hours for the buttercream to firm up before slicing.