Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chestnut Cake

I have to admit, this one is a violation of the seasons. However, the can of chestnut spread has been calling from the pantry ever since I purchased it. I decided to put an end to it by finally making this cake. Also, I seem to be stuck in the realm of duo layers when it comes to icing or frosting my cakes. I like the taste as well as appearance, but that does not mean that I will not go back to the traditional buttercream.

The issue with the duo flavors is that the white layer is a whipped cream frosting, which is not the best type of icing in the heat of the summer. The remedy for that is some stabilizer and refrigeration.

Regarding taste and texture, this cake was a success. The blend of chestnut flour and butter created a tender and moist slice of heaven. Should you be a cake lover and not one for icing, I suggest making this in a 9x12 inch pan and just dusting with confectioner's sugar. If you like all the components of a layer cake, then you will find that the sweetened chestnut spread with the light whipped cream frosting is nothing less than delicious. Chestnut spread was new to me, but it has now been added to my "special" flavors list.

This is not an "everyday" recipe due to the specialty ingredient of chestnut, however, it is definitely one worthy enough to be at the top of the list when it comes to holiday baking.

Chestnut Cake
adapted from Chestnut Hill Tree Farm

1 or 2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2/3 cup chestnut flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

12 oz sweetened chestnut spread
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbs of stabilizer (optional)
2 tbs of sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the interior of  one 9x12 pan or two 9 inch round cake pans. If making layers, Line the bottom interior of the round pans with parchment paper and grease the face up side.

In a small bowl, sift together the two types of flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the butter and sugar. Beat until mixture is fluffy and light. Add one egg yolk and blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Repeat the process with each egg yolk until all 4 are mixed into the batter.

Empty 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter and fold in, using a wooden spoon. Then, using a small bowl, mix together the vanilla extract with the milk. Pour half of that mixture into the batter and stir together. Follow with 1/2 of the remaining dry mixture. Mix in the rest of the milk/vanilla blend and fold in the last of the sifted ingredients. Set aside.

Place all the egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer and beat until stiff. Fold the stiff egg whites into the batter, gently, so volume is not lost. Fill prepared pan(s) with batter. For the two round cakes, the batter should be divided equally. I found that it worked out to 3 cups of batter for each pan.

Put pan(s) in oven and bake until top springs back when lightly touched and tester comes out clean. This takes about 30-35 minutes. If making a layer cake, let cake cool in pans about 10 minutes and invert onto to rack to finish cooling. Parchment paper can be removed right after cake is inverted onto rack. Regarding the 9x12 inch cake, it is served from the pan, so it cools completely in the pan.

During the cooling time, the sweetened whipped cream icing can be prepared. Pour the cream and vanilla extract into a bowl. Add the sugar and stabilizer (if using). Using clean/dry beater blades, beat mixture until cream is fully whipped and light. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the layer cake, spread 6 oz of the chestnut puree onto the top of one round cake, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Then spread the whipped cream frosting over the top, covering all the way to the edge. Place the other cake layer on top, the cover the top surface the same way as the other cake layer. Smooth the remaining whipped cream frosting on the sides, covering all the cake. As a last touch, if you prefer, cover the top of the cake with the chocolate sprinkles.

Frosting the 9x12 inch cake is just a matter of smoothing the chestnut spread on the surface and then topping with the whipped cream frosting.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tips and Notes:
1. The cake sides can be also covered with the puree, but special care has to be taken when frosting with the whipped cream so you do not mix the two. Refrigerating the cake for about an hour after being covered with the puree before frosting with the whipped cream to help stabilize it more.

2. I added 1 tbs of oil to the batter to insure a moist texture.

3. Chocolate is a great pairing with chestnuts, so covering the whipped cream topping with chards of chocolate is also an option.

4. The batter could be baked up in individual servings as well, using rings or muffin tins. Just be sure to adjust the bake time accordingly.
                           **LAST YEAR: Brownie Bread Pudding**