Last year March my sister Kate and I went to a Brownie Extravaganza class at Konditor and Cook in Southwark. What a fun evening! There were only four of us in the class but our teacher and her assistant were enthusiastic and a good comedy duo. We spend 90 minutes learning how to make their Boston brownies and Fudge Packer brownie. I ate the salted caramel sauce straight from the piping bag.
I am not sure if any of you have noticed but this blog lacks some baking recipes and the reason, I am sad to say, is that I am not the worlds best baker. That is not to say I cannot bake but I tend to shy away from baking as I have had many a "whoops" moment in the kitchen. It is too precise an art for me and as a cook I tend to make it up as I go along which is where many of the problems start. Kyle will tell you that once upon a time, many moons ago, I tried to make Hertzoggies. These are delicious little jam tarts with a coconut meringue topping. I tried to make a double batch. Got as far as doubling the sugar in the recipe and then didn't double any of the other ingredients. They were a very sweet flop. Sad, but true.
So this last weekend I decided to face up to my fears and bake. I started off thinking I would make the brownies, then a friend of ours Frankie said he would like something lemony, so I looked for lemons and lemon curd and cream cheese. 3 good ingredients to start with. Couldn't find lemon curd, bah humbug. I then saw marshmallows and Rice Crispies and immediately was transported back to my childhood with sticky fingers. Rice Crispie treats it would have to be, I got home and all hell broke loose in the kitchen. Not literally. I soon got covered in chocolate, had egg on my apron and flour in my hair. I made Konditor and Cook's Curly Whirly Brownies which I will not present to you here because the recipe is relatively easy to find online and I know others have blogged about them. Please see Sophie Loves Food.com for a blog on the brownies.
As I said Frankie requested a little lemon delight to sample on Sunday and I obliged. I had to change from my original plan of vanilla cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting as I hadn't bought the lemon curd. The Curly Whirly brownie recipe calls for a "cheesecake" mix to be made as the decoration for the brownies and I had heaps left over. I got a little carried away with quantities.
To the recipe books. Who is the queen of baking I thought to myself. Mrs Mary Berry the great. Low and behold "Bezza" had a recipe for all in one sponge, easy enough you think. It was, but in my moment of genius I added the rest of the cheesecake mix. Picture the emoji of the monkey with his hands over his eyes. I mixed the sponge, poured it into 2 separate cake tins and then poured the cheesecake mixture on top of each cake, baked them, cooled and covered with a lemon cream cheese icing. A star was born - Vanilla Cheesecake Sponge with Cream Cheese Icing.
Please give this a try and let me know what you think. It is relatively simple and I didn't have any "whoops" moments. If I can do this, anyone can. I promise.
Lots of love
Vanilla Cheesecake Sponge with Cream Cheese Icing
Mary Berry's All In One Sponge
4 free-range eggs
225g/8oz caster sugar, plus a little extra for dusting the finished cake
225g/8oz self-raising flour
2 tsp Baking powder
225g/8oz Soft butter at room temperature, plus a little extra to grease the tins
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, 160 fan, gas mark 4. Grease and line 2 x 20 cm cake tins. Grease with a bit of butter or an oil based spray. Line the base of the tin with a circle of parchment paper. I have silicone cake tins and I still lined them with parchment, grease proof paper.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder and butter. Mix everything together until well combined. The easiest is with an electric mixer. Just make sure you do not over work the mixture and this will make the cake dense and not light and fluffy. It should be a soft dropping consistency and fall off the spoon easily.
Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, use a spatula to smooth the top of the cakes.
This is where the twist comes in: beat together 200 grams of full fat cream cheese, 75 grams sifted icing sugar, seeds from a quarter of a vanilla pod - I used half a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste. And the yolk of 1 medium egg. Divide the cheesecake mix between the two sponges and smooth evenly over the top.
Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven while they are baking. When the cakes are done they should be golden brown, coming away from the edges and springy to the touch.
Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for 5 minutes. Then run a palette knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes onto a cooling rack. Be careful as the cheesecake mix on top will still be soft and you do not want to mess it up. Set aside to allow them to cool completely.
For the icing:
100 grams super soft unsalted butter
100 grams icing sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
200 grams full fat cream cheese
Beat the butter using an electric hand mixer until it is smooth and flexible. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat together. Add the icing sugar slowly and beat into a soft buttercream icing.
Add the cream cheese all in one go and mix in using a spoon you do not need a mixer at this stage. If too soft you can pop it back in the fridge to firm up.
When the cakes are cool, spread a layer of icing on top on one of them with the cheesecake layer facing up. Then put the second cake on top. Smooth a layer of icing all over the cake and decorate as you wish.
Slice, share and enjoy.
PS Frankie went in for 3 slices, so I think it is safe to say that there were no "whoops" moments and I was quite proud of myself.
Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. - Anthony Bourdain