Friday, March 15, 2019

Pineapple sponge cake with cream and cashew praline

There's some excitement when I am beginning to share with you hidden treasures and untold secrets of lifelong loves. Today might be deep. Perhaps even scandalous. Do I have your attention, please?

Remember those first stories that gave you peeks of my obsessiveness for baked cups of caramel fudge, and an ever consuming penchant for tarts. Fruit-mimicking mithai, pudding that toffees onto the mouth as well as the heart, have become staple constants throughout life. Just like some other BESTS

For more than a few years, I've known two imminent truths; 1) with my love of recipe writing-forget the wide shadows between- confessing my weaknesses on the WWW for posterity will always be a certainty. 2) the adoration for lovely, sugar bound things would increase exponentially with age and, of course, subsequent waistline- both of which have reached digits that totally freak me out. Add to this, that, if I were were thrown a choice for my last meal on earth,  no doubt, I would take cake

Pineapple gateau. It's gorgeous. And, I, to the day, am so very glad, that following one fateful chance encounter multiple decades ago( Ann's bakery, Kottayam, to be exact) this remained one of the absolute loves of my life- don't judge, I have several. 

It is stacked pastry, of cloud-like crumb, tossed with fruit to liven it up and and, ultimately, the catch-all of stellar desertdom. It's not as elaborate and fancy as it displays itself to be. Though, perhaps, after initial bites, you know for a fact, that the combination of components do such an A class job that it should have it's own pedestal.

In constructing your gateau, let's consider the like-ability of wet cake. I, for one, am a wet cake lover. The moist, melt-in-your-mouth feels of slightly drenched crumb is something indescribable, totally get-able and one you crave for, much of your existence.

That being said, splashing cake with liquid has its downfalls. No one wants glue-y, streaked cake. For this reason, moisteners should be sprayed or, lightly brushed on. I do the latter. For the fondant and marzipan coverings, slight dampening need to be mandate to keep any cake from getting grainy and totally dried out. 

Ideal moisteners are almost always simple sugar syrup,  maybe fruit juices and, if you're adventurous, possibly rum or brandy. You could use one or a combination of a few. Note of caution: go light on the alcohol- when eating dessert; a boozed out cake could mean a very boozed out you.

Pillowed up fresh cream takes to the show like the perfect long lost lover. It's in such situations, that a buttercream, Italian meringue, and eehhh, the gelatinous fluff in plastic tub could simply never suffice.

Golden sponge possesses a surprisingly, light interior, because - ahhh- there's not an ounce of butter in it! Health and fitness purists, are you listening?

My biggest testimony would be from The Two at home. With the stingiest appreciators on the planet, this is the most requested dessert in our home. 

Beautiful. Quite simple. Decadent enough to fancy up your life a couple notches forward. SO, then, don't you think it's worth the try?

Ingredients:
cake
  • ¾cup plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp cornflour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
 cashew praline:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup chopped cashews
  • 1 tbsp softened butter
whipping cream:
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
Directions:
cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and cornflour.
  • In a stand mixer, using whisk attachment, beat eggs on medium, until thick, glossy and voluminous, about 2-3 minutes, on medium.
  • Into the egg mixture, beat sugar, vanilla, orange juice.
  • With a wooden spoon, very gently, stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on depth of cake pan.
whipped cream frosting:
  • Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer (thoroughly cleaned and dried) fitted with a whisk attachment. 
  • Once it starts to thicken, add the sugar, beating the cream until firm, stiff peaks form. 
  • Don't overbeat. You may end up with homemade butter
 cashew praline:
  • Line a 9 X 13 baking sheet with parchment paper
  • On stovetop, over medium heat, place sugar and water in a deep sided saucepan. Melt sugar and cook stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, without stirring and allow sugar mixture to reach a deep golden brown.
  • Remove from heat and swiftly mix in the cashews and the butter.
  • Spread out evenly onto lined baking sheet. Cool completely until hard.
  • Break or crush the now hardened sugar praline into small pieces.
cake assembly:
  • Using a pastry brush, brush and moisten cakes with pineapple juice. If cutting into layers, spread frosting between each layer. Top one with pineapple, spread evenly, leaving a half inch off outer rim of cake. Sprinkle some of the crushed praline over this mix. Stack with next layer. Repeat. Cover entire cake with cream.
  • Before it sets, sprinkle top with crushed praline, press on to sides.
  • If you have leftover cream, pipe rosettes or swirls and decorate. 
  • Garnish with pineapple.
notes: 
I chill my whisk and beater bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes before whipping cream. It prevents the mixture from becoming butter.
I made a double batch of whipped cream for 4 layers of cake.
******

What is strength? Often we limit the word strong to the physical or to be visibly bold, outspoken, sometimes, hurtfully so. In truth, strength can define you at your emotional, mental and physical weakest. It could mean facing your deepest fear with trembling knees. Attempting to get up. Every. Single. Morning. In the face of extreme pain, and adversity, with no glimpse of hope or human help. Yet still, the greatest show of strength is on trusting The One who knows us most. It's through that blinding valley walk, when we are at our weakest, God works in us His greatest.
Our frailty becomes ground for a limitless Almighty. Your broken becomes restored, the supernatural is more visible and viable, and your walk becomes straighter and bolder each moment, each step, each day.  You can be strong and courageous, despite where you are. You just have to know whose you are.  

"And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, most gladly, will I boast of my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

3 comments:

  1. Looks so lovely! I haven't had or baked a sponge and this one really has me crave some.

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  2. Wow!! This looks so beautifully done.. love pineapple cakes and the cashew praline makes it even more rich with whipped cream... yummy !!

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  3. If ever i have to eat cake, this would be one

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