“Another chocolate cake?” Suzen was not pleased.
“No, this is a test for you,” I said.
“It looks chocolate,” she insisted.
“It happens to be chocolate,” I said with some irritation. I put the spatula down. “As I just said, this is for you. It is an oven test.”
“Oh, really?” Suzen was her wonderfully skeptical self.
“To the web,” I said with confidence. After twenty-six years together you’d think she’d trust me.
We went to Wikipedia, to Sponge Cakes, and I let her read.
“Interesting,” Suzen backed off.
“Let’s see if our oven works properly,” I responded. “And now if you don’t mind, I shall proceed.” She nodded in acceptance.
This recipe is for a sponge cake, originally known as a Victorian cake after Queen Victoria who loved them. There are two main techniques for making sponge cakes. In this case, lots of egg yolks are whisked with melted butter and warm milk. Dry ingredients are whisked in. The egg whites are beaten separately then carefully folded into the yolk mixture. The result is a texture that is truly spongy: light, airy, and soft.
Sponge cakes are very sensitive to cooking time and temperature. Oven manufacturers bake sponge cakes as a quality test of their products. And that is the real reason I was baking this cake, despite what my wife thought.
Suzen and I are big fans of the Arrows Cookbook, from the famous Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine. The Thanksgiving Turkey recipe there is our standard. Karina Gowing, the pastry chef at Arrows, devised this very clever sponge cake. The cake itself is flavored with a little cocoa, so the chocolate flavor is there just as a hint. The “frosting” is a ganache made with milk chocolate. It’s the perfect complement to the spongy cocoa cake.
The instructions here say to bake at 325°F for 25 minutes. I did just that and the cake came out perfectly.
Suzen and I want the recipes on this blog to be perfect for you. According, I shall be performing oven tests on a regular basis.
Milk Chocolate Frosted Layer Cake
Yield: 1 9-inch two layer cake
- 1 ¼ cup(s) cake flour
- ¼ cup(s) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon(s) baking powder
- 2 stick(s) unsalted butter
- ½ cup(s) whole milk
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup(s) sugar
- Pinch(s) salt
- 1 ½ cup(s) heavy cream
- 1 ½ pound(s) milk chocolate, finely chopped
- Shaved milk chocolate, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and flour two 9-inch-square cake pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour, cocoa, and baking powder. In a medium saucepan, melt butter in milk over low heat. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat at medium-high speed until whites are stiff and glossy. Fold beaten whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Divide batter between the pans and bake for 25 minutes, until the cakes are springy and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring cream to a simmer. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour hot cream on top. Let stand for 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let frosting stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to spread, about 1 hour.
Turn the cakes out of the pans and put one layer on a plate. Top with 1 cup of frosting, spreading it to the edge. Top with the second layer and spread remaining frosting over the top and sides. Let the cake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cutting into squares.