Friday, 1 July 2016

Strawberry Poke Sponge Cake

I thought I would make a fancy strawberry cake thing this season, since I haven't done that in a while. The phrase "strawberry poke cake" rose up from the swamp of my mind, and when I examined it via Google I realized it was generally the sort of "cooking" that Grandma did in her latter years. I have her little cooking notebook, and I can tell you she got all excited about cake mix and a packet of Jell-o.

No. No, no, no.

But an actual cake, with actual ingredients: yes, good. In my research I stumbled upon the Norwegian Bl√łtkake, to which this recipe owes much. That cake is usually multiple layers high, but I kept the simplicity of the North American poke cake, and kept mine in a single layer.

Since it's been a while since I did a fancy cake thing, I made some errors. I forgot how quickly sponge cakes overbake, and overbaked mine. Not desperately; it was just a tad drier than it ought to have been. If I had soaked it thoroughly with the stewed strawberries, it would have been no biggie, but I made my second error by thickening the strawberries too much, and they just sat on top rather than really soaking in. After we ate the first couple of pieces I broke out a jar of Rumtopf that someone had given me and applied it vigourously, and we choked it down. Gosh, it was sad. The things I do for this blog. I really should have made another cake to confirm that the corrections I have made to the instructions are, well, correct; but I'm not that dedicated to this blog.

I noticed a lot of the Bl√łtkake recipes call for potato starch as the flour ingredient. I added a bit of arrowroot, which still keeps it gluten free, and if you refrain from dousing it in whipped cream then this is also a dairy free sponge cake recipe. Should you want one. 

12 to 16 servings
1 hour - 20 minutes prep time

Strawberry Poke Sponge Cake

Mix the Dry Ingredients & Prepare to Bake:
1 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Measure and mix the above ingredients; it's easiest to do this right in a 2 cup measuring cup.

Line a 9" x 13" cake pan with parchment paper, bottom and sides. Just crease firm folds into the paper in the corners; once the batter is in it will hold it in place. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the Egg Whites:
the whites of 6 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Separate the eggs into 2 mixing bowls; the whites going into a larger one as all the ingredients will ultimately join them; the yolks in a slightly smaller one.

Add the cream of tartar to  the egg whites and beat them until stiff.

Finish Making the Cake:
the yolks of 6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
the juice of 1 lemon

To the bowl with the yolks add the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat them until very light and fluffy - no need to clean the beater if you have beaten the egg whites already.

Fold the dry ingredients and the egg yolk mixture alternately into the beaten egg whites; the dry ingredients go in in 3 parts and the egg yolk mix in 2 parts; so dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. Fold gently and keep the mixture as light as possible while incorporating everything so it is well combined.

Gently scrape the very light batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out. Bake at 350°F 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and springs back when lightly touched. Do not overbake!

Let the cake cool and place it on the plate from which it is to be served. 

Add the Strawberries:
4 cups strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons arrowroot

Wash and hull the berries. Put them in a large pot with the remaining ingredients. Mash them with a potato masher. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until soft and thickened. I just kept stirring/mashing with the potato masher; worked well.

Use the blunt end of a chopstick to poke holes all over the cake. Pour/spread the strawberry topping evenly over the top of the cake.

Top with the Cream & Finish:
2 to 3 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries

Beat the cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff. Spread over the cake. Two cups will cover the top with cream; 3 cups will allow you to cover the sides as well.

Wash and hull the strawberries, and use them to decorate the cake.

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