White Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake
by Monika Pelka
FOR THE SPONGE CAKE:
* 5 medium eggs
* 150g icing sugar
* 2 tbsp ground almonds
* 2 tbsp cornflour
* 120g plain flour
* 1 flat tbsp baking powder
* 200g poppy seeds
* Pinch of salt
* 2 tbsp caster sugar
* 3 tbsp white rum
* 125ml water
FOR WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
* 450g good quality white chocolate
* 400ml double cream
* Approx 4 tbsp good blackcurrant jam (I use home made)
* Unsalted butter and fine semolina for the tin
Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare your tin: grease a high-sided 8-inch spring form cake tin with butter and then add a small amount of fine semolina and turn the tin to coat the sides and bottom, shaking out any excess.
NOTE: You might want to bake the sponge and prepare the ganache a day before.
TO MAKE THE SPONGE CAKE:
1. Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites into a spotlessly clean bowl and sprinkle in the salt. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form, gradually adding the sugar towards the end. The mixture should be shiny, fluffy and uniform, resembling a meringue. Add the yolks.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the flours, ground almonds, baking powder and the poppy seeds. I normally sift the flours, but you don’t have to.
3. Gently fold in the floury mixture into the eggs. The batter should be very light and fluffy.
4. Pour the batter into your prepared tin, bake for about 45 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Once the sponge is baked, let it rest for about 30mins outside of the oven. When just warm, remove the cake from the tin and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack.
I normally bake the sponge the day before and at this stage wrap the cake in cling film and rest it overnight at room temperature, It helps to seal the moisture in and makes the cake eaiser to trim and layer. If you don’t want to wait, just let your cake cool completely before cutting it into 3 (I use a cake leveller for this, but a sharp serrated knife will do too).
TO MAKE THE SYRUP FOR SOAKING:
Place the water and caster sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Set aside to cool down slightly and then add the white rum.
TO MAKE THE GANACHE:
Place the cream in a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl, then pour the warm cream over the top. Stir until the chocolate has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Cool down slightly, then refrigerate for several hours (preferably overnight). When cold, whisk the mixture until light and fluffy. Reserve a tablespoon for decoration, use the rest to sandwich and cover the cake.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
1. Place the first of your 3 sponge layers on to a serving board or plate. Using a pastry brush, soak the top of the sponge with syrup, then spread 2 tbsp of the blackcurrant jam followed by ¼ of the ganache.
2. Place the second sponge layer on top, again soak it with some syrup and spread with 2 tbsp of the jam, and then ¼ of the chocolate ganache.
3. Place the last sponge on top, soak with the syrup and then use the rest of the chocolate ganache to cover the top and sides of the cake. Use the reserved ganache to pipe decorations onto the finished cake. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.