Another weekend, another bit of baking in order. Well, actually that makes it sound more of a chore, when to be honest, I use the fact that I will no doubt have a houseful of teenagers over the weekend as an excuse to allow me to bake. I'm a big fan of the American baking maestro Nick Malgieri and fancied wallowing in one of his books for inspiration. I felt a huge impulse to make his Russian Punch Cake, but I knew that it wasn't really child-friendly and I didn't have time to whip it up, so plumped for a lovely, plain(ish), old-fashioned cake, which he - in turn - took from a friend; it's called Kyra's hot milk sponge cake, but for me it is his! Though what I made was - I now see - is not quite his recipe, and for that I apologise to him. I had been working from the American edition of 'Bake!' as you can probably see from my annotations, and when I 'translated' the measures from US cups to metric, I came up with slightly different amounts than the recently published official English edition does. Luckily for those my side of the Atlantic, this English edition is not only available now, but the official recipe can be found in the recipe section of the site (thanks to Nick and his Brit publisher Kyle Cathie).
I feel since the cake you see here is the result of my adaptation, I should confess how I made it; the thing is, not only are my weights different, but I simplified the process hugely, not because anything was hard, but because I am impatient and lazy. So here goes, as simply and briefly as I can: I pre-heated my oven to 170 C and lined a pair of 20cm sandwich tins (rather than the 23cm tins, as I don't have a pair in that size) and sprayed the sides with baking spray. Then I put 60g soft unsalted butter (in fairly small chunks) and 125ml full-fat milk in a pan over low heat and when the butter was just about completely melted, I took it off the heat, gave a brisk whisk by hand and poured it into a jug. I just did that because I am clumsy and thought it would be easier than pouring in from a saucepan later.
In my Kitchenaid, I whisked 3 large eggs (at room temp) with a fat pinch of salt and 200g caster sugar and when everything was pale and moussy, after two or three mins, I added a teasp vanilla then I gave the set-aside butter and milk mixture a quick stir then, with the whisk at much lower speed, I poured this mixture in a slow, slow stream into the bowl. I'd combined 225g of plain flour (he says to sift, but I just can't) and 2 teasps of baking powder while the eggs and sugar had been cheerily whisking earlier and I now slowly sprinkled this - with the whisker still on a slow speed - over the batter in the bowl. Once it was more or less incorporated, save for some floury patches around the edges, I removed the bowl and then just folded carefully by hand with a rubber spatula, before pouring/scraping the mixture into the two tins and putting them in the oven to bake for 20 mins.
When they were out, I left them on a wire rack for ten mins, before turning them out, and leaving one topside down and turning the other back the right side up, which isn't what I was told to do, but I like the underneath layer to have a flat surface and the top layer to have a mounded look. Plus I like the indentations of a wire rack on a plain cake. I know it's not considered desirable, but to me it's old-fashioned and comforting.
Ok, so now for the grand and final assembly: I saw that Nick/ Kyra's cake was filled with jam, but I took the teen-friendly route of spreading about three-quarters of a 400g jar of Nutella (it must not be from the fridge and indeed, I sit the jar in a bowl of hot water from the kettle for a minute to soften it up ) between the now cooled and beckoningly golden sponges. A bit of icing sugar top (though I was torn between adding it and leaving it unadorned) and there it was: simple but luscious. And because the schools haven't gone back here yet, we haven't even come to the weekend and the cake's almost a third gone - so a result all round, I'd say!
Posted by Nigella on the 2nd Sep 2011