Happy Valentine’s Day! This year I made my Valentine this gorgeous light & airy sponge cake which is layered with cranberry curd and frosted with a delicate whipped cream. The Husband (who also happens to be my Valentine… come on! You know that isn’t always the case with all married folks out there….) generally doesn’t like any chocolatey super sweet sugar bombs that seem to be all the rage for this holiday. Which is totally unlike me. That is exactly what I would want. Truth be told…in a the shape of a cupcake if all were going my way. Just saying…He, on the other hand, prefers fruit forward desserts such as this lovely Cashew Crusted Blackberry & Lime Tart:
Or these Luscious Lemon Squares,
And then there was that Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream.
You see…being a good wife, I make him thing that I know he will enjoy the most. I do not bake cupcakes for him on Valentine’s Day…generally that is. You see one year I did manage to get away with it. He loves a good Gin & Tonic so I made him Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:
Pretty sly huh? This year I decided on this cake because of that Cranberry Curd. He does love cranberries. He raves about my Boozy Orange Cranberry Sauce which shows up at Thanksgiving every year.
And was thrilled when I took some of that leftover Cranberry Sauce and made the cranberry butter to go on these Popovers:
So I figured this cake was a pretty good bet. And luckily I was right!
The sponge, being full of whipped egg whites, had a very delicate crumb and was light and fluffy. The cranberry curd was amazing – buttery and velvety with just the perfect amount of tartness to balance the sweet.
The one piece of advice I would give, having made the cake, is that if I were to make it again, I would forego slicing the cakes in half to make four layers. I would simply spread about 1/2 cup of the curd between the two layers of cake and be done with it. The cake is wonderfully delicate and the curd very heavy. I am not very good at splitting cake layers in half and I think the thinner delicate cake layers had a hard time holding up to the heavy curd. Not to mention, I wouldn’t mind having a bit of that curd left over to spread over toast and scones. Just saying… If you are great with splitting cake layers in half and want that impressive four layer appearance – proceed with the recipe as noted. However, if you might be a bit more like me….well….. you know what I’m saying!
This cake would look great on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table as well, when fresh cranberries are plentiful. But believe me, it would be welcome by all year round. I must say, both the Husband and myself were well pleased with it! Happy Valentines Day!
Sponge Cake with Cranberry Curd
recipe from: King Arthur Flour
For the curd:
- 3 cups (298g/ 10 1/2 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup (198g/7 oz) granulated sugar
- juice and grated rind (zest) of 1 orange
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, optional
- 6 tablespoons (85g/3 oz) unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
For the Cake:
- 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1 cup (198g/ 7 oz.) superfine sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (120g/4 1/4 oz) unbleached cake flour
For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
- 2 cups (454 g/16 oz.) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (28g/1 oz) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Sugared Cranberries:
- 3/4 cup (149g/5 1/4) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (113g/4 oz) water
- 1/2 cup (50g/1 3/4 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries
- superfine sugar, for rolling
To make the curd: Place the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest, salt, and rosemary (if using) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries pop and start to break down, abut 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, remove and discard the rosemary sprig, and purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Strain the purée into a clean medium saucepan.
Whisk in the butter, eggs, and egg yolks. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the curd from the heat and transfer it to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap that touches the surface, and refrigerate until cold.
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease your choice of two 8″ (at least 2″ deep) or 9″ round pans. Line the bottoms with parchment, then butter and flour the parchment.
Combine the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
In a clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating on medium-high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 2 minutes. Fold the yolk mixture, one third at a time, into the whites.
Sift the flour over the mixture and fold gently until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges just begin to pull away from the pan and the center springs back when lightly touched.
Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn the layers out of the pans, peel off the paper, and return to the rack to finish cooling right side up.
To make the whipped cream: In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
To make the sugared cranberries: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and return to a boil; simmer for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and, with a slotted spoon, take the cranberries out of the syrup and roll them in superfine (Baker’s Special) sugar until coated. Place on a rack to dry.
To assemble: Split the cake layers horizontally (see my comments above… basically I would go with a simple two layer cake, spreading 1/2 cup of the curd between the layers and reserving the rest for scones or toast) and place half of one on a serving plate. Spread with 1/2 cup cranberry curd.
Place the other half of the layer on top and spread with another 1/2 cup of curd. Repeat with half of the second layer. Top with the remaining curd and cake, then frost the top and sides with whipped cream. Garnish with the sugared cranberries. (optional)
Store the cake, covered in the refrigerator, for up to four days. Freeze for longer storage.
Sponge Cake with Cranberry Curd brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
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