Birthdays

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The older I get, the more ambivalent I feel about my birthdays. Long gone are the days where I would run down the stairs excited to open my presents. These days, the highlight tends to be managing to take the day off work (though good presents are obviously still appreciated). However, August is my birthday month and even if I am not a fan of big crowds and therefore haven’t thrown a birthday party in years, a birthday is there to be celebrated in some form or another. And celebrate I did. Not with one, not two, not three, no, with four birthday cakes in total.

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First there was the box of cupcakes from Lola’s Bakery that my friend Verena gave me and that was devoured together with my parents. There was the Pflaumenkuchen, a plum cake common in Germany around this time of year (the plums are incredibly tart when baked so the cake is eaten covered in sugar and sweetened whipped cream – amazing), my mum baked for me and my dad. There was a Chocolate Mousse aux Marrons cake I baked when I went to see my grandma for a post-birthday afternoon coffee. And now that Alessandro is here in London for a few days there is a Lemon and Blueberry cake. And as my flatmate Millen said this cake is “woah! So yummy!!” so
I wanted to share the recipe.

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Lemon blueberry tiered cake, makes a four layer cake using two 16cm round cake tins

3 eggs, separated
90g sugar
45g butter
75 g flour, sieved
Zest of 1/2 lemon

For the blueberry filling
1 cup fresh blueberries
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tbsp water
1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tbsp water

4 tbsp lemon curd

For the white chocolate ganache
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
200g heavy cream

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Directions

For the sponges

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (it is key that the sponge mix is placed into the oven as soon as the beaten egg white has been folded into the egg yolk mixture as the sponge mix will otherwise lose volume and not rise as much in the oven, so make sure you turn the oven on well in advance of baking the cake). Butter and flour two round 16cm cake tins.

2. Start by making the sponge. Begin by beating the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and fluffy, the mixture is no longer grainy and has increased in volume.

3. Melt the butter and pour on top of the egg yolk mixture and add the sieved flour and the lemon zest.

4. Beat the egg whites until stiff.

5. Mix 1/3 of the beaten egg whites with the egg yolk mixture until the egg whites, the melted butter, the flour and the lemon zest are combined. Add the remaining egg whites and carefully fold in by hand.

6. Divide the batter between the two tins and place in the oven. Bake for ca. 20 minutes. The sponges will be ready when they have pulled back slightly from the sides of the cake tins.

7. Let the sponges cool completely before cutting each sponge into two halves.

For the white chocolate ganache

8. While the sponges are baking, heat the cream until it starts to steam and pour over the white chocolate. Leave until the chocolate is melted and stir to ensure the white chocolate and cream are well mixed (if need be use an immersion blender to ensure the mix is smooth). Leave to cool.

For the blueberry filling

9. While the sponges are baking, make the blueberry filling by placing the blueberries, the sugar, the lemon zest, the lemon juice and the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to medium and let cook until the blueberries start breaking down and release their juices. Add the cornstarch and turn the heat up again. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Leave to cool and thicken.

Assembly

10. Place half the blueberry filling on one of the sponge halves and cover with the next sponge half. Using a spatula spread the lemon curd on the second sponge half and cover with the next sponge half. Cover the third sponge half with the remaining blueberry filling and cover with the remaining sponge half. Place cake in the fridge to firm up.

11. Whip the white chocolate ganache for ca. 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

12. Spread the ganache around the sides of the cake and the top of the cake.

As the cake is quite decadent, I left it unadorned. As much as I love decorating cakes with fondant when I find the time to do so I also like the simplicity of a ‘naked’ cake. Although, a few slices of candied lemon or a pile of blueberries in the middle of the cake would not hurt, I simply went with a bunch of golden candles (it was a birthday cake after all).

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