Albino Layer CakePosted: September 2, 2013
So! Here we are at Week 3 on Series 4 of The Great British Bake Off, and it’s DESSERT time, so here’s is an accompanying in-theme recipe for you to try.
I found this recipe, just one of many variations on the same theme, on a Serbian cookery website. It is also of the same family as the Russian Honey Cake (you haven’t tried that yet? Oh my dears, you don’t know what you’re missing!), in that a sweet cream is layered between baked sheets and then left overnight to soften. Even after softening overnight, this dessert retains a little more texture in the layers than the Honey Cake, but I quite like this difference.
What drew me to this particular version was its simplicity and purity. In the world of desserts, it’s not unusual for great effort to be expended on presentation. With this dessert, it is the simplicity of just two elements that makes for a striking visual effect: the crumbly biscuit and the smooth, rum-flavoured cream. There isn’t even a dusting of icing sugar on the top, although there’s nothing to prevent you adding that, or any other embellishment, if the mood takes you.
There are other appealing aspects to this recipe, mostly for the cook:
- The dough is divided into several pieces and, once rolled out, are then baked one at a time, without allowing them to colour in the oven at all. Should you be unlucky enough to have one of your sheets of biscuit catch and begin to brown, you can just trim that piece off and discard it – who is to know that it should have been eight layers to your seven?
- With the cake needing to soften overnight means this is an ideal make-ahead dessert.
- You can dress this up as much or as little as you want. Unadorned, it’s delicious with morning coffee or as an afternoon teatime treat. Add fresh berries and some whipped cream, and it’s an eye-catching finish to a meal.
- You can cut it into whatever size and shape portions you desire, serving only those pieces with which you are happy. That’s exactly what I’ve done for the picture! 😀
Albino Layer Cake
1 large egg
1 egg white
100g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1/2 tsp baking powder
700g plain flour
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the rum, creme fraiche and the softened butter and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Sift the baking powder and flour together, then gradually add to the rest of the ingredients to make a firm dough.
- Weigh the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Prepare 5 pieces of baking parchment. I use my half-sheet (30cmx45cm) baking sheets to cook the biscuit sheets, but use whatever size baking sheet you have. Just make sure you have one extra piece of parchment prepared.
- Roll out each piece of dough to the correct size. It will be extremely thin, no more than 2-3mm. You don’t want to add extra flour to the dough, so roll it between 2 pieces of prepared parchment. Don’t worry if you can’t keep the edges straight and even (who can!?), just trim any excess dough and use it to patch where necessary.
- Bake each of the pieces of dough for 5-6 minutes. You want the dough to cook, but not colour, so lay the extra piece of baking parchment over the top as you put each sheet into the oven. This should be enough protection to allow the biscuit to cook without colouring.
- As each layer of dough is cooked, slide it off the baking sheet and make a pile on the worktop, one on top of each other, to cool. Put a sheet of parchment on the top and weight it down with a baking sheet, to ensure the stack cools flat.
Rum Custard Filling
1.2 litres of whole milk
1tsp vanilla extract
100g white chocolate, chopped finely
250g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
- Mix the flours into the milk and whisk over a low heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Simmer gently, still whisking, for 5 minutes to ‘cook out’ the flours. Skipping this part will make the custard taste floury.
- Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, chocolate and rum.
- Stir until thoroughly combined and the chocolate is melted.
- Cover with cling film, ensuring it is in contact with the surface of the custard, and allow to cool. This may take up to 4 hours.
To complete the custard:
- Beat the softened butter and sugar together for 10 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add in the cooled, thickened milk until everything is smoothly combined.
- Now it is time to assemble the cake.
To assemble the cake:
- Cut each sheet of biscuit in half, making eight equally-sized pieces. Decide on the best looking layer and set it aside to use as the top layer.
- Put a layer of cling film over a cutting board and lay the first biscuit sheet onto it.
- Ladle on enough of the custard to cover the biscuit generously. If you want to be absolutely precise, divide the custard equally into 7 – or one less than the number of usable biscuit layers.
- Stack the biscuit layers on top of one another, with a generous layer of custard in-between each layer.
- Place the final layer on top, but don’t cover it with custard.
- The whole cake will be a little wobbly at this stage, so only move the board it is on if absolutely necessary.
- Cover with cling film and leave overnight to soften.
- The next day, unwrap the cling film and trim the edges neatly.
- Cut serving portions of whatever shape you wish.
- Wrap any remaining cake in cling film and store in the fridge.