Christmas 'Buche de Noel'
 
Ingredients
FOR THE SPONGE CAKE
  • 30g flour
  • 20g potato starch
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup / 100g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons / 30g melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • rum
FOR THE LIQUID
  • 1 cup / 125ml water
  • ¼ cup / 50g sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cherry jam
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING
  • 200g ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup / 125 ml whipping cream
  • a drop of almond extract
TO ASSEMBLE
  • cherry jam
  • whipped cream
  • Merengues
  • Flowers, leaves, sugar pearls to decorate.
Instructions
MAKE THE SPONGE CAKE
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C˚ / 340 F˚.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, starch, cocoa powder and baking soda.
  3. Separate the egg whites from the yolks in two bowls, and add the sugar to the bowl with the yolks. Beat them until pale and very fluffy, then sift in the combined dry ingredients. Loosen the mix up with the butter, rum and add the vanilla - if it seems too tough add a tablespoon of milk, but we'll be adding the whipped whites as well.
  4. Bet the whites until stiff and gently fold them into the mixture.
  5. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch / 24cm baking mold and slowly pour in the mixture. bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
MAKE THE LIQUID
  1. Add the first 4 ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and let it cook until reduced by almost half, then add the lemon juice, vanilla and cherry jam and mix well. Let cool.
MAKE THE FILLING
  1. Beat the ricotta with the sugar, rum and vanilla. Whip the cream until stiff and, if you like, add a drop of almond extract. Fold the cream into the ricotta mixture, and let set in the fridge.
ASSEMBLE
  1. Once everything is cool and set (you can do all the above things a day before) assemble the cake.
  2. Divide the filling in 3 parts, one of which more abundant than the other two, saving the most generous portion for last.
  3. Cut the sponge cake lengthwise into 3 layers, and set the bottom layer on a pretty plate or cake stand. Wet it generously with the liquid and spread a layer of cherry jam, then spread a first layer of filling. Lay the second sponge cake layer on top and repeat, then top with the top layer. Cover the entire cake with the remaining filling. It will give your cake a 'naked effect on the sides, but make sure to smooth out the top.
  4. Now, you can leave the cake as is if you cannot be bothered to use a sac-a-poche to decorate the cake, and just finish with some pretty white flowers and a ribbon on the sides, and maybe crumble or arrange some meringues on top. I whipped /2 cup cream and used it to do a few frills and decorations with a sac-a-poche, in my mom's fashion, then topped with meringue.
  5. You can serve it straight away, but I suggest letting the cake rest in the fridge anywhere from a few hours to overnight. Once it will have sat for some 10-12 hours, it will be twice as delicious!
Recipe by Hortus Natural Cooking by Valentina Solfrini at http://hortuscuisine.com/blog/2017/12/12/christmas-buche-de-noel-cake-hortuschristmas/