The first thing that went through my head when I saw the challenge would have required censorship had it been a live broadcast. As an amateur baker, this was quite daunting at first glace. I am by no means lazy when it comes to baking, I love spending all day at the helm of my oven and stove. But even for me this sounded incredibly labor intensive. However, I did not allow my neurotic tendency to over think situations deter me from attempting this torte.
I actually read through the recipe several times. I'm terrible at reading through recipes. Normally I just plunge head first into things and dodge any mishaps as they come like a sleek ninja during a dagger attack. I do this so I won't psych myself out before even trying something. With this recipe though, reading through it actually made it less intimidating. It really was not as difficult as I had initially thought!
It took me almost a full day to prepare but I enjoyed every minute of it. Each step was a labor of love and a few frayed nerves. Would the cake layers be too thin and uneven? Would the buttercream be too runny and not hold together? And my greatest fear...the caramel layer. Caramelizing sugar is my kryptonite of the baking world. It almost never works out for me and I'm usually left with a dark, burned messy blob at the bottom of a pan. Washing the gunk off is like a walk of shame. This time I cleared the hurdle! It is interesting how once you conquer a certain fear you wonder why you ever had issues with it in the first place. Don't worry though, I'm not going to get overly confident. I'm sure I'll still have some run- ins with a worn out sponge and a sore scrubbing wrist. :)
As far as taste is concerned, this was not my favourite dessert. It would have been much better had I used dark chocolate for the buttercream frosting. I was too into the baking process to stop and run to the grocery store so I made do with semi-sweet. The cake was similar to a very thin sponge cake. I zested a lemon which made it a little bit less sweet. I did like the sensation of eating the layers. I'm a sucker for a great texture and it was a nice balance between cake and frosting. This would be the perfect dessert for a special birthday or anniversary!
Sponge Cake Ingredients: – Makes 8 to 10 (9-inch) layers
10 Eggs, large Separated
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Flour, All Purpose Sift after measuring
Beat egg yolks with sugar about 15 minutes, or until lemon colored. Gradually fold sifted flour into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not too dry. Fold egg whites into the egg yolk and flour mixture.
Cut several pieces of parchment paper to line baking sheets. Working with three sheets at a time allows you to rotate them while spreading, baking, and cooling. Draw a 9 inch circle on each piece of parchment (a cake pan makes a great template). Flip the parchment over (ink/pencil side down but visible) and place on a baking sheet. Spread batter evenly within the circle, about ¼” thick per layer.
Bake in moderate oven, 375 degrees F, about 8 minutes, the sponge cake should spring back when gently pressed and edges are brown. Invert the cake and gently peel off the paper, place on wax paper until completely cooled. Repeat until all the batter has been used. Be sure the baking sheet has cooled prior to re-using.
Set the best looking layer aside for the top. Cut this layer into serving pieces. Place pieces on a wire rack set over foil. Note: you may want to reserve two layers in case of trouble with the caramel topping.
½ pound Sweet German Chocolate (Baker)
4 Eggs, large – lightly beaten
½ Cup Sugar, granulated
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (good quality such as Penzey’s)
½ pound Butter, unsalted – softened
5 teaspoons Powdered Sugar
In double boiler melt chocolate with a little water. Add sugar, vanilla and beaten eggs. Stir constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat, let cool. Mix ½ lb butter with Powdered Sugar. Add to cooled chocolate, mix well. Add more powdered sugar if needed.
Spread the chocolate filling between each layer and on sides of cake (save some filling to pipe around top but do not spread on layer reserved for the caramel top).
½ Cup Sugar, granulated
Put sugar in saucepan on medium high heat. Melt until brown (use a light colored saucepan to better see the color of the sugar). Do not overheat. Remove from heat and pour over top layer that has been cut and set on rack over foil (see above). Spread with a buttered knife if needed. Work quickly! This will harden very fast.
When caramel has cooled, place the caramel topped pieces carefully on top of frosted layers. Pipe the edges with reserved frosting.