Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Four Superb Birthday Cakes (pt. 3)

Today we wish a Happy Un-Birthday to Harry Potter as we continue plowing through his four birthday cakes that appear in The Goblet of Fire (seriously, I have cake coming out of my ears at this point):

"And then on Harry's birthday (which the Dursleys had completely ignored) he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, and Sirius" (Goblet of Fire 28).

According to Dinah Bucholz, Hagrid's birthday cake for Harry is quite simple and very British: Custard Sponge Sandwich Cake. So let's jump right in!

For the Sponge Cake, You Will Need:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 sticks (12 Tbs) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting


For the Custard Filling, You Will Need:
1 cup whole milk plus 1/2 cup heavy cream  (or 1.5 cups whole milk)
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 Tbs cornstarch
pinch salt
3 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs butter (if not using the heavy cream)
whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the eggs to the butter one at a time, beating after each until incorporated and scraping the sides as needed. 


5. Add the flour mixture and mix on the slowest speed until combined. Finish by scraping down the sides and folding the batter together with a rubber spatula.


6. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 20 minutes until the cakes are golden brown around the edges (the tops will still be pale) and they feel soft but firm when touched in the center or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.


7. To make the custard, combine the milk or milk and cream, 2 Tbs of the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan and mix until the cornstarch is dissolved.


8. Whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. 
9. Heat the milk mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it is hot but not bubbling. Reduce the heat to low. 
10. Temper the egg yolk mixture by pouring 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the yolks while whisking constantly. Pour the yolk mixture slowly back into the saucepan while stirring constantly.
11. Return the pan to medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil (handle gently after it starts to thicken or the cornstarch will lose it's thickening powers!).
12. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla. Add the butter if you did not use heavy cream. Stir gently until combined (and the butter is melted). If you're picky about lumps, strain the custard through a sieve. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

13. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer top-side down on your plate and spread the custard over the cake to within 1/2" of the cake's edge. Top with the other layer (top-side up) and dust with confectioner's sugar. Keep the cake refrigerated, but bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with whipped cream.


This simple cake is quite delightful! An excellent choice to serve with tea at your next social gathering or birthday party! Enjoy!

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