“My Daddy strongest!” Oh yes, I’m definitely Daddy’s girl, and the kid-bro is Mamma’s boy. I didn’t even for a single second, have trouble deciding what I should make for Daddy’s Birthday. He loves Pineapple pastries right from the time I can remember, and I’d decided long back that I was going to make it for his B’day. Much as I thought I had everything perfectly planned, there were many factors already pitting against me to play spoil sport. BESCOM (our electricity board here in Blore), was the miscreant. There was a time last month, when we used to have power every alternate hour, but I didn’t know that yet, bcos it had just then started. Two days before Daddy’s b’day, in the evening, I got ready to bake the sponge, and just as I set out to put everything on the kitchen counter, power cut. Phbbt! Power didn’t come back till early next morning. I didn’t get worked up much since I had another 2 days to go. Next day, I get back from work, same sardonic power cuts before I even start off, so same sad-me, same sad story all over again. This time, I silently started having panic-attacks. “What if I’m not able to bake the cake at all”, NO, I didn’t even want to think about it. I didn’t want Bakers’ nightmares….nooooooooooooo!
On Daddy’s B’day morning, I determinedly set out for the third time. This time, I got as far as preparing the batter, and just about putting the cake into the oven to bake, and phbbt, power cut again! I happened to be chatting online with Suma, and cried my heart out to her, and she suggested I quickly move the cake tin from oven to an empty cooker, which I did. I knew the cake took exactly 32 minutes to bake in the oven, and I figured it would take the same amount of time, give or take 5-10 minutes. So I put the cake tin in, sent up a little prayer, and waited…the house was wafting with the smell of pineapple and I was almost on the brink of pineapple-wafting-though-the-house-nirvana. Finally, after what felt like hours, on the 25th minute, I open the cooker and what do I see? Blasphemy! The cake was burnt on the sides! *sob* It was just not my day; maybe I’d woken up on the wrong side of bed that day. Whatever it was, I thought this experimenting was not going to work and I had to get back to the oven when power came back. By then, I had noticed a pattern in the power cuts and told myself I had to win this battle at any cost. So the next hour when power came back, I quickly whipped up the batter, poured it in the cake tin, baked it, and took it out of the oven, just in the nick of time. The second I took it out, power cut again! But this time around, I couldn’t care less. B’cos, as the cake was baking, I’d also whipped my whipping cream for the frosting, and I didn’t need power anymore. Whatever lighting I needed, I managed with our inverter back-up, and phew! yes, I finally managed to make Daddy his B’day cake. Though the cake didn’t really get time to soak up in the syrup like I normally would have loved for it to, there was absolutely no compromise on the taste. The B’day boy simply loved it, and so did the others who got to peck at it. At the end of the day, I was a happy person. To hell with BESCOM, I managed to put up quite a fight, and everyone loved the results. That’s what mattered most after all.
Phew! OK, are you still there? Good, ‘cos having bored you with this story, now’s when we move onto the interesting part – how you can make this treat too (sans all the trouble from your electricity board, of course), and wow your family! So sit up tight in your seats, and gear up for a gastronomical experience that will have you salivating like an adorable puppy!
For the Fat-less Sponge:
- All purpose flour/Maida – 1 1/4 cups (150 gms)
- Sugar – 3/4 cup (150 gms)
- Eggs – 5 nos
- Baking powder – 1/2 tsp (2.5 gms)
- Vanilla extract – 2 tsps (I used 1 tsp of crushed Vanilla bean)
- Pineapple essence – 2 tsps
If you do not wish to make this fatless sponge with egg, I’ve also made an eggless sponge and will post it soon enough, so gear up for it if you aren’t an eggitarian. The rest of the procedure for frosting/decorating the cake stays the same.
For the Filling & Frosting:
- Whipping Cream – 2 cups (I used Non-dairy whipping cream ‘Gold Rich’s', and since it was slightly sweetened, I didn’t any additional icing sugar to my whipped cream. It made 4 cups whipped cream)
- Canned Pineapple – 1 tin
- Pineapple Syrup – from 1 tin canned pineapple (OR) Home-made sugar syrup by mixing 1 cup powdered sugar in 2 cups water, and chilled.
- Powdered Sugar – 3-4 tbsps (to add to the pineapple syrup, since the syrup will be very tart by itself)
- Rum (optional) – 1 tbsp, to be added to the pineapple syrup (I didn’t use any, but feel free to dunk some in your syrup, and get all tipsy…hic!)
- Preheat oven to 200C/390F. Line and grease a 9 inch round cake tin.
- Put the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and pineapple essence in a bowl, and beat together till it forms soft peaks, about 10 minutes.
- Sieve the flour and baking powder thrice.
- Fold in the flour mixture little by little into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula, taking care not to lose any volume, at the same time ensuring there are no lumps in the batter.
- Gently pour the batter into the readied tin.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. It took exactly 32 minutes in my oven.
- Remove from oven, and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before you turn onto the wire-rack. Once you remove the cake from the tin, remove the lining as well, and allow to cool completely.
Assembling, Filling & Frosting:
- Chill the whipping cream for at least 10-12 hours in the refrigerator. Also chill the beater blades and bowl in which you plan to whip the cream, about 2 hours atleast. Stainless steel bowls work best for this.
- While the cream, beater blades and bowl are doing their bit and chilling in the refrigerator, chop half the tinned pineapple slices to make 1 cup of chopped pineapple pieces. Set aside.
- Reserve the pineapple syrup and rest of the pineapple slices.
- Once you’re good to go, start by whipping the cream on high-speed. Whip until thick and starts holding peaks, about 5-7 minutes. Once done, set half aside in the refrigerator (for the frosting).
- Next, get down to assembling the gateau. Here’s a trick to get a smooth finished gateau – use the bottom of the cake (that was in contact with the lining) for the top. So this means, the actual top of the cake goes to the bottom of the gateau. If the cake has risen too much in the centre, gently level it with a long, serrated knife and then turn upside down. (That way, you also have some cake crumbs to munch on while you work on the cake ).
- Now, this is a very important step to get a flat surface on top of the frosted cake. Using some food colour (I chose yellow), dip a toothpick in the food colour and draw a line anywhere on the side of the cake, from top to bottom. This line will act as a reference when you have to assemble the slices, and the cake will sit perfectly in place, and give you a wonderful flat surface on top. Miss this step and you’ve got to be content with a shapeless, wobbly cake once done!
- Gently cut the cake into 3-4 slices horizontally (I cut mine into 3 slices).
- Place the bottom-most slice on a turn-table if you have one. I used a thick piece of cardboard covered with glossy silver paper (like they use in bakeries) for the base. I set this base on a high vessel/pan (whose mouth was narrower than the base was wide) that would rotate easily, and that became my cost-effective turn-table! Much as I would love to own one, who says you have to own an expensive turn-table to decorate your cakes? Make the most of whatever you have at home. Adapt! At the end of the day, it is survival of the fittest!
- Drizzle the pineapple syrup (to which you have added adequate powdered sugar) over the bottom most layer of the cake. Ensure you cover all of the surface area (I feel like a Geometry Teacher now!).
- Now, using a palette knife/offset spatula spread some whipped cream generously over the bottom cake layer (don’t spread the cream too much to the edge since the next layer coming over it will push the cream to sides anyway). The more whipped cream you fill your layers with, the taller your gateau will get. But don’t overdo it, else, you’ll taste only cream in the end. Cream layers about 3/4th-inch thick should work just fine.
- Next, spread half the chopped pineapple pieces generously over the cream.
- Now place the second slice of cake over it (remember to match the slices by the yellow line you drew with the food colour), and repeat the syrup>whipped cream>chopped pineapple pieces ritual.
- Place the last and final layer of the cake (remember again to match the slices by the yellow line you drew with the food colour), repeat with syrup and a thin layer of whipped cream on top, and finish the sides with a thin layer as well.
- Now sit the cake in the refrigerator for atleast 2-3 hours, to allow the flavours to marry and get to know each other well. The longer the better; overnight works best. (And if you’re worried about the other half of your whipped cream going flat by this time, don’t worry, good whipping cream if whipped properly, should stay intact for atleast 3 days. If my word still doesn’t instill the confidence it should in you, then whip 1.5 cups cream for the filling, and whip another 0.5 cup just before you want to complete the frosting).
- Once the cake has sat in the refrigerator for a good amount of time, get it out, finish the top and sides of the cake with more whipped cream. Work with your palette knife/offset spatula and dip the knife/spatula in cold water every 3-4 strokes, to get a smooth finish on top of the cake.
- Next, use a cake comb if you have one/want to use one, and make fancy patterns on top of the cake, if you fancy it that is. Else, move onto the next step.
- Finish by decorating the cake with the remnant pineapple slices and other toppings of choice. I piped swirls with a star nozzle at equal distances on the rim, and sat some yellow vermicelli in the centre of each swirl. And then I piped swirly patterns all over the top of the cake, and stood three yellow sugar flowers in the centre. Lastly, since I had some more pineapple slices left, I quickly put some all around the cake and, voila! I had my most beautiful creation right before me, and boy was I happy!
Like I said before, don’t let the elaborate steps in the procedure deter you from making one of these fancy bakes. The joy you get when you hear a loved one appreciating you for your efforts is simple unparalleled and worth every bit. So the next time there’s a birthday or special occasion in the family, don’t rush to your favourite bakers to buy a cake; instead make this, this or this pineapple pastry by hand, and I assure you, you’ll be overwhelmed by the response you get! Go on, just do it!