Hermine's very berry semi-naked cake

GBBO 2020 semi-finalist Hermine has teamed up with ProCook to share this very berry semi-naked showstopper that’ll earn you the coveted status of ‘star baker’ among your friends and family!

Hermine's top tips – setting up to succeed

  1. Whenever I’m making a sponge that I want particularly light and fluffy, I find that substituting one-third of the flour weight with cornflour makes a big difference.
  2. A traditional Genoise doesn’t use baking powder; however, if you’re a bit intimidated by Genoise, adding a bit of baking powder gives you that safety net.
  3. You can substitute the Cognac with rum, brandy, vanilla or a good quality fruit flavouring.
  4. When whipping egg white, I always add a bit of cream of tartar. It helps to stabilise the egg white and ensures that I have success with my meringue.
  5. When you put so much effort into getting your recipe right, it’s important to bake it in a good quality tin. For this project, I used a nonstick, loose-bottomed shallow cake tin from ProCook which does a great job at ensuring your cake unmoulds beautifully.
  6. A good palette knife will help you spread the cream and smooth the edges. ProCook palette knives are great to use for a tall bake – the wide surface makes the job of spreading buttercream a piece of cake!
  7. I used a St Honoré piping nozzle, piping in small and steady zig zag motions around the cake. You can also use a star nozzle, piping in circular motions around the cake.

Hermine with ProCook ’s Malmo tableware range

Caption: Hermine with ProCook ’s Malmo tableware range

Ingredients

For the Genoise sponge

  • 160g (51/2oz) plain flour
  • 80g (3oz) cornflour
  • 5g baking powder
  • 5g fine salt
  • 8 large free-range eggs
  • 220g (7¾ oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 90g (3¼ oz) unsalted butter, melted

For the syrup

  • 100g (3½ oz) water
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cognac

For the Italian meringue buttercream

  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 65g (2½ oz) water
  • 6 free-range egg whites, at room temperature
  • a pinch of cream of tartar
  • 500g (1lb 1oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla essence or paste
  • a pinch of salt (optional)

For the decoration

  • 350g (12oz) strawberries, sliced
  • 100g (3½ oz) blueberries
  • 100g (3½ oz) raspberries
  • 100g (3½ oz) blackberries
  • 100g (3½ oz) redcurrants, on their stem

For the chocolate ganache

  • 300g (10½ oz) dark chocolate
  • 150g (5½ oz) double cream

Instructions

For the Genoise

1
Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3.
2
Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder, then set aside.
3
Melt the butter and set aside.
4
Sparingly grease and line the base of three 20cm (8in) cake tins with parchment paper and set aside.
5
In a large glass bowl, add the eggs, sugar and salt, then place over a pan of gently simmering water (a bain marie), ensuring the hot water does not touch the bowl. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the mixture is about triple its original size and you reach the ribbon stage; about 10 minutes of continuous whisking.
6
Remove from the bain marie and sift the dry ingredients over the egg mixture in small batches, gently folding in each batch with a balloon whisk or a spatula by gently scraping down and around the side of the bowl, gently back up and over the middle and starting again, turning the bowl each time.
7
Drizzle the melted butter around the side of the bowl and fold it into the batter gently until fully incorporated.
8
Pour about 300g (10½ oz) of the batter in each prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.

For the syrup

1
In a small saucepan, add the water and sugar and bring to a boil.
2
Off the stove, add the Cognac and set aside to cool.

For the Italian meringue

1
Make a syrup by cooking the sugar and the water to 118°C/244°F.
2
Meanwhile, whisk the egg white and the cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peak.
3
Reduce the mixer speed to low and drizzle the sugar syrup slowly onto the whisking egg whites.
4
Increase the speed and let the mixture increase in volume and reach stiff peak. This should also allow your mixture to cool down before the butter is added.
5
Add the butter at room temperature in small batches, about 1 tbsp at a time, and mix at high speed in between additions.
6
Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt.
7
Pour half the cream in a piping bag fitted with a piping nozzle of your choice for decoration (I used a large St Honoré and a star nozzle). Set aside the other half to fill and cream the cake.

For the chocolate ganache

1
In a bowl, add the double cream and the chocolate, then either melt over a bain marie or in the microwave for 30-seconds, then smaller 10-second intervals until completely melted. Pour into a dripping bottle, a piping bag, or simply cover to contact with clingfilm and set aside.

Assembling the cake

1
Spread about 1 tbsp buttercream in the centre of a cake board and place on your first sponge to help it stick to the base.
2
Using a spoon or pastry brush, drizzle the syrup on top of the sponge to add extra moisture.
3
Drop a spatula full of Italian meringue buttercream on top of the sponge and spread across with a palette knife while rotating the cake. Add a little extra if needed.
4
Randomly layer a few slices of fresh strawberries, some blueberries, blackberries and raspberries on top of the cream.
5
Place the second sponge on top and repeat the process above.
6
Place the third sponge on top of the fruit layer and add a couple of spatulas full of Italian meringue buttercream.
7
Fill the gaps between the edges of the sponge layers and, using a palette knife, smooth the top of the cake. Scrape around the side of the cake, removing any excess Italian meringue buttercream to create the semi-naked cake effect.
8
Drizzle the chocolate ganache around the top edges of the cake using either a spoon, a piping bag, or a bottle with a nozzle. Apply more on some places than others, allowing the chocolate to drip down the side of the cake, creating the dripping effect.
9
Pipe some Italian meringue closely around the edge of the cake to cover the chocolate that is visible on the top side of the cake.

For the decoration

1
Cut the remaining strawberries in half, leaving the calyx on. Randomly fill the centre of the cake with the halved strawberries, redcurrants, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
2
Finish off by piping some Italian meringue buttercream at the base of the cake using a star nozzle.
3
Place the cake in the fridge until ready to enjoy.

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