Thursday, March 27, 2008

Let's Bake a Cake!

The recipe for this cake comes from a dear friend in Germany. I love this cake because it's easy, keeps well (make it a day ahead for best flavour), and is infinitely versatile. I've used almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, as for liqueurs, I've tried Amaretto (great with almonds), rum (amazing with walnuts), kirsch (nice with walnuts) or Grand Marnier. The last time I made it with Grand Marnier, I even used 70% dark chocolate with orange flavour. It was amazing!

Lots of people ask me for the recipe, so here it is!

Krümeltorte (Crumb Torte or Cake)

200 g butter
250 g granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 package vanilla sugar
(I use Dr. Oetker, each pouch contains 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, according to the Dr. Oetker website)
25 g cornstarch
100 g flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
100 g ground nuts (natural almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.)
100 g dark chocolate, ground

For the filling, you will need:

500 mL 35% whipping cream
2 packages Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar
3 - 4 cL liqueur, such as Kirsch, rum, Amaretto or Grand Marnier
1 tsp. cocoa (I usually use more like 1 tablespoon)

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 325ºF

Prepare a 10" spring-form pan by greasing and lining bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Beat butter until creamy, add sugar, vanilla sugar (or extract) and egg yolks. Mix dry ingredients together (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, ground nuts and ground chocolate) and add to butter mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold under mixture. Turn into prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 50 minutes in a 325ºF or until tester comes out clean. (With my new wall oven, it took only 45 minutes, despite the original recipe saying 60 minutes, so there's a moral in there somewhere).

Let cake cool on a rack, and remove parchment from sides and bottom. I recommend you put your cake on the plate you plan to serve it from, unless you have a cake lifter.

Here's where things get interesting: you will now remove the inside of the cake! Using a sharp knife, make a cut around the top of the cake, about a ¼" from the edge, and remove the inside using a spoon BEING SURE to keep a base of about a ¼". Your result will look like this:

Put your crumbs in a large bowl, and using your hands, make sure no large crumbs remain. To this you will add the 3 - 4 cL liqueur of your choice, and the cocoa. The goal here is not to SOAK, but to MOISTEN the crumb mixture. Taste it, and you will know if you should add more liqueur or cocoa powder. Remember, when the cake rests, your liqueur flavour will become more pronounced, so you might want to err on the side of caution. I don't even measure anymore, I just pour!


Reserve 1¼ cups of the crumbs in a separate bowl for the topping, and put this aside. These crumbs will decorate the top of the cake AFTER the reconstruction.

Beat your whipping cream, adding vanilla sugar or essence, and FOLD the mixture under your crumbs (repeat: NOT the ones for the topping). Your mixture will look like this:

You will now RETURN this mixture into your base, as such:

Flatten out the mixture, being sure to fill in the edges of the base. Using a spatula or knife, smooth the top, and using the 1¼ cups of crumbs you have set aside, sprinkle these on top of the whipped cream/crumb mixture.

Your finished cake will look like this:

The inside of the cake morphs into a creamy, mousse-like filling. Like a good wine, this cake ages well; it also travels well, and all told, is my definition of cake perfection. I'm at the point where I don't even want to try another recipe, at the risk of being disappointed. This one's a "keeper", as the saying goes!

Try it, I think you'll like it!

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