Tuesday, February 4, 2014

V is for Vanilla Cake...

Photo: Greta Kenyon Photography. Location: Post Bank Restaurant.

It’s time to spoil your significant other. Or treat a friend. Every once in awhile it’s nice to put in a little extra effort to celebrate someone or something special in your life. I’m not one to overtly embrace that Valentine’s Day but I’m also not so opposed that I’m going to ignore it! No harm ever came from showing someone a little extra love and if your loved one has a sweet tooth this cake is a perfect way to do just that.

Vanilla and raspberry are one of the best couples I know. They never fight. Always compliment each other and look damn fine side by side too. I think it's the contrast. As Paula Abdul said...opposites attract.

Look at this cake – it’s so pretty and actually does taste as good it looks. Cutting into the lush white cake to reveal the layers of vanilla and raspberry inside is so indulgent. Can you tell I love this cake? I really do. And, I'm pretty sure, so will your better half or best buddy or neighbour or anyone. 

A couple of tips... 
  • Make the effort to make the three layer cake. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say 'ooooh look at the layers!' when they see a three layer cake (two is just standard, four sends them into a frenzy).   
  • Don't scrimp on the vanilla. Buy the good stuff (I use Heilala). It's worth it.
For the raspberry coulis and vanilla buttercream recipes click here and here.

Photo: Greta Kenyon Photography. Location: Post Bank Restaurant.

Vanilla Cake
Makes an 8-inch round 3 layer cake
300g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
1 teaspoon Heilala Vanilla Extract
6 eggs
300g self-raising flour*

Preheat oven to 160°C (fan bake). Grease and line two 8-inch (23cm) round tins. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, mixing well between additions. Sift the flour over the mix and stir to form a smooth batter. Divide the batter into thirds. Place a third each in the two tins - you will have one third remaining. Bake the first two cakes for 30mins or until the centre springs back when gently pressed. Once cool enough turn out the cakes and bake the third layer. Sandwich together with raspberry coulis and vanilla bean buttercream.

*Weekly Tip: If you don’t have self-raising flour make your own by simply adding 2 teaspoons of baking powder to 300g of plain flour. Sift to combine.

Raspberry Coulis. Making everything taste better except venison.

Simple, sweet, saucy goodness. Serve it alongside any sweet treat and it's almost guaranteed to make it taste better. You can see it here in action in a classic vanilla cake.

I once had raspberry coulis served with venison at a supposedly 'up market' restaurant where I live. Let's just say that it's definitely a dessert sauce. Don't serve it with venison or anything savoury for that matter, not even cheese. Why would they do that? It's crazy talk. I guess I am guilty of ordering it though.

This sauce is tangy, sweet and jam packed with berry flavour. Great with cake, ice cream, chocolate, mousse, fruit, pancakes...the list (of desserts) goes on.

Raspberry Coulis
350g fresh or fozen raspberries
1/3 cup (75g) sugar 
2 tablespoons water

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer over a medium heat for around 5 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved. Cool slightly then pulse in a blender to puree. At this point you can strain the sauce to remove the pips but sometimes I like to leave them in for a bit of texture.

Keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for 3 mths.