February 16, 2024

Petite sponge cakes

These tiny but mighty sponge cakes deliver a few bites of extravagance, full of the luxury of the essence of violet.

Petite sponge cakes
makes 10

for assembly
1 quantity sponge cake batter
apricot jam
bought marzipan, optional
1 quantity violet Swiss meringue buttercream
1 quantity violet fondant

for sponge cake batter
4 eggs
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
pinch salt
60g butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 180C. Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of hot water on a low heat. Whisk until it is thick and white and falls from whisk in a thick ribbon, leaving a trail on the surface (this will take about 8 minutes with an electric beater). Sift flour with salt and fold into mixture in two stages, alternating with the butter. Mix well. Pour cake batter into a lined and buttered Swiss roll tin 20cm x 30cm and bake in oven for 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Slice cake horizontally precisely in thirds and spread one side of each piece with warmed apricot jam. Over the top of the jam, pipe some violet swiss buttercream and smooth it out. Now, sandwich the three pieces together. The top layer should finish with jam. Cover layered cake with a thin layer of marzipan for a smooth surface.

for swiss buttercream with violet essence
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1 pinch salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
½ tsp violet essence
1-2 drops violet gel colouring

Add egg whites, sugar and salt in a bowl. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure water does not touch the bowl. Whisk egg whites until they reach a temperature of 72C or until it’s not grainy between your fingers. Transfer bowl to a stand-mixer, mix with a whisk attachment until mixture is cool and glossy. Gradually add dollops of room-temperature butter, making sure to let butter completely incorporate before adding the next piece. Once all butter is incorporated, add violet essence and colouring. Transfer to a piping bag and store at room temperature until you are ready.

for marzipan
Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar. Roll marzipan very thinly into one large, flat piece, then place on top of cake. Trim marzipan evenly around the top of the cake using small pair of scissors. Put cakes in freezer for up to 1 hour to make cutting neater. Cut marzipan-topped cake into 10 even squares. Set cakes back in the freezer while you make the fondant.

for violet fondant
It is easier to make two lots if necessary rather than work with a huge amount, which has a tendency to harden if you don’t work quickly.

2 cups icing sugar, sifted
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp warm glucose
violet gel food colouring
violet extract

Combine sugar, water and glucose in a medium bowl. Stir well. Put bowl over a saucepan of hot – but not boiling – water. Place thermometer into mixture and place over medium-high heat. Let mixture reach soft-ball stage, 112C. Have ready a wire rack with a pan placed under it to catch the excess fondant that falls off cakes. Immediately dip each side in the fondant and place marzipan-side-up on a wire rack. Spoon fondant over top of cake and allow the excess fondant to drip off. Try to dip and spoon as quickly as possible. This fondant sets up quickly, so halfway through you may need to heat it over boiling water to loosen it up again. It is important that this fondant stays thin when dipping the cakes. Do not allow fondant to boil as it will lose its lustre. Let fondant-covered sponge cakes stand until completely dry. Decorate with fresh violets.


This article first appeared in the September 2023 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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