I was so excited to be at home for my mum's birthday, since I missed four of them in the past years. So I decided to make her something super special. Lets be honest here, I am not a cake person (not the ones covered in fondant), but I love this kind - tiny and cute.
Also, I prefer more non-mousse style cakes. To me, there is nothing better than a good nut based biscuit with creamy vanilla mousseline with addition of another flavor. What is mousseline? It is a German buttercream which is made from one part butter to two parts pastry cream.
The biscuit was a flourless walnut cake adapted from Beatrice at La Tartine Gourmande which is probably something I will be doing from now on. Even baked as it is, it's SO good, super moist, flavorful and there is no flour and just egg whites! (what a great way to use them, I always have so many leftover that in the freezer)
I spread a thin layer of my mum's bitter orange marmalade on each biscuit (there were four layers) and then a layer of mousseline. After the first coat, I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours after which I gave another coat. At the very end I decorated my baby with some orange blossom flowers, bee pollen (please read this fantastic article on bee pollen HERE and check out Sarah's amazing work) and a few pieces of dill (I know, it sounds unappetizing, but it was just for a bit of color)
Here's the formula for the flourless walnut cake adapted from La Tartine Gourmande:
- 280g walnuts (semi finely ground)
- 4 egg whites + additional 2
- 75g powdered sugar
- 100g butter at room temp
- 40g granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (very important!)
- Preheat the oven at 180C or 350F
- Grind the walnuts in the food processor or any other nut grinder you have. I ground 2/3 fine and the rest a bit more coarse.
- Add butter, 2 egg whites, powdered sugar and salt. Using a spatula make a paste. Set aside.
- In the meantime whip the egg whites and add the granulates sugar.
- Fold into the walnut paste and bake in buttered and floured pan, ramekins or on parchment paper in any form you wish.
- Baking time depends of the thickness of the batter, but it's usually about 20-30 mins.
- Let cool, unmold.
- 540g milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 160g yolks
- 120g granulated sugar
- 60g cornstarch
- 250g butter at room temp (I reduced the amount of butter)
- Split the bean, scrape out the seeds and put everything together in a heavy bottomed pan with half the sugar. Bring to a boil (don't go anywhere during this time, you know what happens when you leave the kitchen - caramelized milk, we don't want that here)
- Mix the yolks with rest of the sugar and cornstarch, you can also add a bit of milk so it's easier to combine.
- Once the milk comes to a boil, temper the yolks, put back on the heat and with constant whisking on medium heat boil until it thickens.
- Pour the cream into another bowl, add a few tablespoons of bitter orange marmalade (optional) and buzz with immersion blender. You can also pass it through a sieve if you want it super smooth. Cover with plastic wrap. Let cool.
- Once cooled, put in the the mixer and add butter gradually using a whisk attachment. Mix until smooth.
- Now you're ready to ice the cake! I will not say anything else, but have fun and use your imagination!