There has always been this thing about the cakes my mom made: They were never too pretty or evenly-shaped, yet all those who had any one of my mom’s cakes could not revert to any other cake, even if they were from the best pastry/cake shop. My mom always said that cakes must first and foremost taste good and always despised all the sugar coatings and butter glazings (I am not a fan myself). Yet, she could do wonders with whipped cream decorations: she could pipe out of her sac-á-poche ribbons, flowers and bows of every kind. So her cakes always looked gorgeous, even if they had a tendency to fall apart when sliced.
This is a very simple cake and one of the first she taught me to make. We experimented with this almond custard and not only it is delicious, but it is not too much on the unhealthy side. Though this cake does not exactly belong to the healthy realm, it is much better than many others nutritionally speaking: the only fat there is is in the eggs in the custard, and there are plenty of fresh strawberries to serve as topping. The sponge cake is made moist by a concoction made out of orange juice, rose water and berries. You can make this much prettier than mine and make it multi-layer of course. I’ll get better at making cakes look pretty, promise.
But for now, let me dedicate all this rosy goodness to the best woman I know, the woman who taught me everything I know and that there is never enough to learn. I am so proud and lucky to be a daughter of such an amazing human who makes such delicious cakes (even if they’re not the prettiest).
This cake was also meant to be a part of the Virtual Edible Flower Potluck hosted by Renée on her great blog – go check the full list! There are some truly gorgeous posts. I couldn’t make it in time, as I couldn’t be too active because of some life happenings. My dad was at the hospital but he’s fine! Still, we were all a little busier than usual. I also have not only one, but TWO great news to share on my next posts! So stay tuned!
I am not giving the recipe for the sponge cake now – use your favorite recipe! Mine does not contain any fat.
In my family, we very seldom eat sweets or desserts. We have like, what – 3 or 4 cakes per year perhaps? And, though my mom is great at making desserts, she’ll hardly make one more often than once every month, or even less. This is why we never worried too much about making super-healthy desserts. We satisfy our weekly (or bi-weekly) sweet tooth at a local gelato shop that makes ice cream with the freshest milk and fruits and whole, organic sugar. So, since it’s only every once in a while, this cake is, well…just cake. We like moderation.
Use a Genoise base or a ‘Pan di spagna’ base (the japanese Castella works well too!) or use your favorite pie crust, tart crust, or whatever. The custard + strawberries is gonna work like a charm in any case!
Aaaaand…so happy to be back! I have been a bit MIA, I know. This post was meant to be ready a week ago, but I was on vacation for a couple of days, then my dad was at the hospital and we have been all a little busy with other things. He’s perfectly fine now! So I can get back to focus on blog things.
We have this stunning place very close to home. First you’re deep in the woods, and then you emerge to these beautiful paths leading to the promontory. Welcome to le Marche, people.
- 2 cups/500ml Almond milk (freshly made is best)
- 3 Eggs
- 2 tbsp Potato Starch
- 1 tbsp Flour
- 3 tbsp Whole brown sugar or honey
- Half a vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- The peel from half a large lemon (or one small)
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 3 heaped tbsp of honey
- ¼ cup of freshly pressed orange juice
- ¼ heaping cup frozen mixed berries
- The vanilla scrap from the custard
- A --inch sponge cake (or -- if making double layer)
- 1.5 pounds fresh strawberries
- To make the custard, add the eggs to a pot and whisk them with the starch and flour. Turn on the heat to low, and whisk vigorously while adding the milk a little at a time, trying to avoid lumps. Add the whole vanilla bean and the scraped seeds, and the lemon peel. Keep whisking, but at this stage there is no need to whisk vigorously and you can take a break. As soon as the custard will start to smoke slightly, start whisking again. At this point it will start to thicken, and you will need to whisk with a little more energy. As soon as it thickens fully, turn off the burner and keep whisking very vigorously for another minute, then add the rose water. This process should grant you a smooth, lump-free custard. Once it's cooled, fish out the peel and vanilla bean. If you want an even stronger rose scent, add the rosewater once the custard is completely cool.
- While the custard cools, make the syrup: add to a small pot the honey, the freshly pressed orange juice, and the frozen mixed berries (though you can certainly make it with your favorite fresh berry). You can also add the vanilla scrap from the custard - just wash it well. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, until reduced.
- Assemble the cake: distribute the syrup on the sponge cake base. You might not need all of it, just stop when you see that the whole area of the cake is lightly, evenly moist. Distribute a nice, thick layer of custard on top (again, you might not need all of it). Wash, dry and cut the strawberries in half. Arrange them in a pretty pattern on top of the custard, chill the cake for an hour before serving!
- If you want to make a double layer cake, moisten both sides of the cake on one side with the syrup (make a double batch just to be sure). Cut up some more strawberries to add in between layers, and mix them with half the cream. Add the rest on top and arrange the strawberries as indicated. You could decorate the sides with whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.
- NOTE: You can add some crumbled candied almonds to the custard! It will create the most pleasant texture!