Snow CakePosted: September 14, 2014 Filed under: Cakes, Gluten-Free | Tags: cakes, easy, gluten free, potato flour, quick, simple, Traditional 25 Comments
An unusual and simple cake for you this week, with the bonus of being gluten-free!
Following on from the gluten-free Brazilian Cheese Breads of last week, it might look as if I’m following a theme here, but I assure you it’s just a coincidence – a DELICIOUS coincidence!
Last week, I got a request from my publisher to write a short paragraph for publication on their foodie website, on my favourite baking book. As you can imagine, with my book collection, this took quite some time to narrow down. As I was perusing the shortlisted books, I came across this recipe – not in any specific allergy-related book or even chapter of a book. No, it was just included with a bunch of other recipes in a book aimed at the commercial baker, dating from the early 20th century. I have scaled the recipe down from the originally huge quantities, but otherwise, it is unchanged.
This cake is made using potato flour. IMPORTANT: Potato flour is made from RAW potatoes and is a bright white and very fine powder, with no discernible taste. It is NOT dehydrated cooked potato, which is coarse, yellowish and tastes of potato. That makes mashed potatoes when reconstituted and will add a similar texture to your cake. Readers in the US: use potato starch flour.
At first, I thought the cake got its name from it colour, because, as you can see from the photo, it is indeed a very pale cake. However, after tasting the cake, I’m now of the opinion that its name comes from its texture. It has the same quality of settled snow, in that there is a thin ‘crust’ on the top and soft, friable, almost powder-like substance underneath. The cake dissolves in the mouth – but in a different way to, say, Melting Moments. It’s incredibly light and tender and is best enjoyed simply, where it can really shine.
That said, the cream that I have teamed with it is pretty awesome itself. It is a variation of the filling I used for the mille-feuilles in the final of The Great British Bake Off. The mixture of sweetened cream cheese and whipped double cream is given a firmer set by the addition of gelatine, which helps to hold in the moisture and makes for a very luscious, rich, creamy and mousse-like texture. Just to continue the frozen theme, it’s like the very best soft-serve ice-cream, without the cold.
I’ve brightened the filling with some of the Apricot Jam I made a couple of weeks ago, but any other sharp jam would also work well.
I bought the potato flour at Holland & Barrett.
112g unsalted butter – softened
112g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
2 level tsp baking powder
225g potato flour
- Preheat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
- Grease and line the base of a 20cm diameter, tall cake tin – not a sandwich tin. The high sides will help shield the cake from the direct heat of the oven and keep it from becoming over-coloured.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – 5-10 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time.
- Add the remaining ingredients and beat thoroughly – a good 5-10 minutes. Ordinarily, you’d run the risk of over-beating a cake mixture, which would develop the gluten in the flour, leading to a tough cake. Since the potato flour has no gluten, there’s no need to worry about this. You want to try and get as much air into the mixture as possible to make for a light texture in the cooked cake.
- Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the tin 180 degrees and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, for a total of 30-35 minutes. When you turn the cake after 20 minutes, slip a sheet of baking parchment over the top of the tin to keep the colour from getting too dark.
- When cooked, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Luscious Cream Filling
50ml double cream
50g caster sugar
2 leaves gelatine
1tsp vanilla extract
150g cream cheese, room temperature
250ml double cream
- Soak the leaves of gelatine in cold water for 15 minutes.
- Warm the double cream and caster sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- Shake off the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan.
- Stir until the gelatine has melted, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Once the mixture has cooled a little, pour it into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
- Whip the mixture until the cream has thickened and it is soft and pillowy.
Even though this is a light sponge cake, the weight of the top half will be too heavy initially, to avoid squidging (technical term) the cream out of the sides of the cake. Therefore, I strongly recommend using the following method to assemble your cake.
200g apricot jam – warmed and pureed
- Using cocktail sticks, mark the midpoint of the cooled cake around the edge and cut it horizontally.
- Spread the cut side of each cake half with apricot jam.
- Put the bottom half of the cake back into the tin in which it was baked.
- Slip a band of parchment or food-grade acetate around the inside of the tin, between the cake and the inside of the tin.
- Smooth or pipe the cream filling over the bottom of the cake, making sure it reaches the edges of the cake.
- Place the other half on top and press gently.
- Cover with cling-film and chill for 2-3 hours, until the gelatine in the cream has set.
- Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
- Remove the cake from the tin and gently peel the parchment/acetate from around the filling.
- Smooth with a knife if necessary.
- Dust with icing sugar to serve.
This looks like a fab recipe, if you didn’t have potato flour, could you replace with plain flour?
I would think so – it’s just a basic sponge recipe, really.
Be careful with over-beating though – probably no more than 2-3 minutes after adding the flour.
Also, reduce the baking powder to 1.5tsp.
Have fun! M-A 😀
That looks delicious!
It was – IS!
Hope you’ll be giving it a try! M-A 😀
I don’t have gelatin sheets…I only have it in powder. I was hoping you could tell me how many grams in total of gelatin this recipe uses? Thank you ❤
I’m not sure whether the ratio of sheet-to-powdered gelatine is 1:1, but I was governed by the quantity of double cream, so however much gelatine is required to set 300ml, or 0.53 Imperial pints, or 2/3 of a US pint.
Hope this helps! M-A 😀
If I ever come across potato flour then I’ll be making this. It sounds amazing and the use of gelatine in the filling is really clever =)
I bought my potato flour in Holland & Barrett health food store.
You can also order it online here: http://www.healthysupplies.co.uk/potato-flour.html
Hope this helps and you try the recipe! M-A 😀
Don’t know where to put this but just bought your lovely Book, and tried Apple Cake, I must admit put an Egg in it, but it was still the best I’ve ever tasted. One gripe though, wish you had put pounds and Ounces as well as metric, can’t deal with this new fangled stuff being rather long in the Tooth. But, well done you , for a wonderful Book, so interesting and informative.
Excellent recipe. And, most important of all, it stands up proud with non gluten-free cakes and holds it own: as a good GF bake should.
Hi Mary-Anne! Just a question about your “Luscious Cream Filling”: you listed “50g double cream” in the beginning and also “250ml double cream” in the end. Is this deliberate? Do you mean dissolve the sugar in 50g cream, and add the remaining 250ml in the end and whip? Or am I missing something?
(And to those looking for potato flour, you should also be able to find them in most Chinese/Oriental supermarkets)
Thanks for the heads up re: mismatched measuring units – I’m such a scatterbrain!
And yes, the small amount of cream listed first is to dissolve the gelatine, which is then whipped into the rest of the cream and cream cheese.
I’ve added some space between the two parts to hopefully make it less confusing.
Thanks again! M-A 😀
I’m making the snow cake using cup measurements (since that’s how I generally cook and don’t have a scale). I thought my converter was doing a good job, but the cake batter is much too dry – it’s crumbs, not a batter at all. I used 1/2 c butter and 2 c flour. Do you know how I can fix it?
Sorry to hear of your conversion woes.
2 cups of potato flour is (by my converter) 320g and the recipe’s 225g potato flour is actually only 1.4 cups.
To fix it, you need to increase all the other ingredients by almost half as much again:
Cream 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup sugar, add 1 egg and mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Add another teaspoon of baking powder and a little more lemon zest if you have it.
If the mixture is still dry, add a little milk and mix thoroughly until smooth and it just drops from the spoon.
Hope this helps! M-A
this was closer to a cookie batter than any kind of cake – is it perhaps suppose to be potato “starch” instead of flour?
I think there is some cross-Atlantic confusion.
Here in the UK, potato flour is a bright white powder, made from the starchy residue of peeled, raw potatoes.
Potato starch is made from dehydrated cooked potatoes and is used to make instant mashed potatoes.
From the sound of it, you used the cooked potato version.
After a quick search, calling it “potato starch flour” would clarify things for US readers – and I’ll make that edit now.
Hope this helps!
I forgot the baking the baking powder so it didn’t rise as intended BUT it was still delicious! The crust was thin and beautiful and the inside was so soft just as described. I just made the cake with a simple glaze that went on top. Looking forward to making it again with the baking powder this time. And seeing variation which I prefer. 🙂
How long will snow cake keep or must it be eaten straight away
With a nice, moist filling, it should last a couple of days, but it’s not a great keeper.
You can prolong it’s edible life by wrapping it closely in plastic film to retain as much moisture as possible.
Happy baking! M-A 😀
Thank you for your lovely website. I love reading your blog. I’m going to make mini beesting cakes for a group gathering — a yeasted cake with a crunchy honey and almond topping. The (traditional) pastry cream filling in the recipe is more custard than cream. The filling you have used in this recipe sounds delicious and also sounds like it will hold its shape BUT do you think the cream cheese filling would complement the honey and almond topping or would it be too much?
I’m familiar with beestings cakes – only through my old recipe books, though. Have you got a source for the beest!? How lucky! Am v. envious.
I think the simplicity of the cake and the rich custard filling would compliment each other well – if two ingredients are sharply contrasting, then they are each thrown into greater relief and taste all the better for it – like using plain, unsweetened shortcrust pastry in Banoffi Pie (also on the blog, she shamelessly plugged! 😉 )
I suggest serving some kind of sharp/tart fruit as well, to cut through the richness – you can serve them alongside for people to help themselves, or as a sauce (raspberries would be great).
Good morning from New Zealand. Can this cake be frozen? I used to make it years ago, but never tried to freeze it. Visitors are coming to stay, and I need to prepare as much as I can in advance. I can’t eat cake myself, but am so glad to have the chance to bake again for my visitors.
I don’t see any reason why not.
When cooled, wrap in cling film and freeze unfilled.
Fill once fully thawed.
Hi from the US – I made your cake today after watching your season of the Bake Off and being intrigued by your passion for historical adaptations. I’m lucky to be able to get imported clotted cream here, and I used strawberry preserves and powdered gelatin (I live in a small town and couldn’t get the leaves). I reduced the ingredients by about 25% for a 6-inch (15cm) springform pan, and it took 30 minutes to bake. It came out fantastic!! Wonderful accompaniment to tea. My gluten-free roommate and I are very pleased. I’ll be making this again. Thanks so much!! -Sarah
Snow cake with potato flour