Every now and then I like to flex the old baking muscles and try something that seems really difficult or complicated. It is easy to get stuck in a rut with a few favourites and particularly when baking gluten free it is tempting to stick with tried and true recipes that you know work well with GF flour.
I have been eyeing up this Anna Olson cake for over a year now and this weekend decided to give it a go. This is a two day project so plan ahead, you are not going to be running home after work to get this done before that night’s dinner party. Give yourself time to make this cake. All the elements and stages are very easy but when you look at a recipe this long it can seem daunting. Give it a go, the only piece of equipment you will need that you may not have is a sugar thermometer and they aren’t expensive and if you think you won’t use a sugar thermometer often enough to make the investment worth it you can also use it to gauge the temperature for frying anything from fried chicken to perfect chips.
The cake recipe given will make two sponge layers although the assembled cake only needs one layer split in half . This works if you are baking with regular flour as the sponge will rise enough to be split in half however I knew looking at the recipe that this cake was not going to rise with Gluten Free Flour, no matter how much baking powder and baking soda was added. As the cake layers were going to be too flat to split I just used both layers in the finished cake. This is a lovely sponge, dense and moist but the next time I make this I might omit the baking soda, it isn’t going to help with the GF flour and I find that when I add baking soda to a cake batter the cake ends up tasting of brown soda bread to me. I am alone in this, no one else seems to taste it so it is a purely personal preference.
If you make this with regular flour and split one cake layer you can freeze the second layer for later use.
This cake will definitely serve 12 to 16 people! It is delicious but so very rich.
Step One: Cake
½ cup boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped . I used 70% dark chocolate for this.
¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¾ of a teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ cup hot strong coffee
Preheat the oven to Gas 3, 170, 325 F.
• Grease two 8inch cake tins, line the bottoms with baking parchment and then lightly dust the sides of the pan with GF flour, tapping out any excess.
• Whisk the boiling water, chocolate and butter together until melted and set aside.
• Beat together the egg, sugar and vanilla until the mixture doubles in volume, this will take about 2 minutes.
• Add the chocolate mixture to the egg batter and fold in gently
• Sift the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt together over the batter and fold in gently
• Stir in the hot coffee until well combined. As GF flour is quite starchy you may feel that the mix is getting too gummy however be patient and gentle and the batter will be fine.
• Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared 2 tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans.
Step Two: Mousse
3 cups of single cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped . I used 60% dark chocolate for this.
3 large egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
⅓ cup of water
• Take 1 & ½ cups of your single cream and whip until you get a medium peak, don’t over whip. Put the whipped cream in the fridge to chill.
• Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the remaining 1 ½ cups of cream until it is almost at a simmer and then pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow the cream and chocolate the sit so the hot cream can start to melt the chocolate and then stir to combine. Set the chocolate ganache aside to cool
• Place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat for a minute .
• Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble until the mix reaches 250 F on a sugar thermometer.
• Start whipping the egg yolks on medium speed and then very carefully pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl in to the eggs. Increase the mixer speed until high and whip until the egg / sugar mix has doubled in volume and cooled to about 105 F. If you don’t want to put your thermometer in to the batter 105F will be just about body temperature so you can check with a clean finger, you can also use this method to test the ganache.
• Check the temperature of the chocolate ganache to ensure it is close to 105 F as well and fold the ganache into the whipped yolks. Let this cool for 15 minutes, or until just above room temperature.
• Once the mousses has cooled fold in the chilled whipped cream in two batches.
Step Three: Assembling the cake and mousse
• Prep a 9 inch spring-form cake tin by lining the base with baking parchment
• Spoon half of the mousse into the prepped cake tin.
• Place one of the cake layers over the mousse, as centred as possible.
• Spoon the remaining mousse over the cake layer and spread it out to the edges of the tin, gently place the second cake layer on top
• Press down gently to make sure the mousse rises up and covers the sides of the cake, you do not want the cake layer to sink in under the mousse so don’t press down too hard.
• Wrap the tin in cling film and put the cake in the freezer to set for at least four hours or over -night.
Step Four: Chocolate Glaze
½ cup of water
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of single cream
½ cup of cocoa powder, sifted
1& ½ tablespoon gelatin powder
- You can make the glaze while the cake is setting.
- Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup of cold water.
- Bring the water, sugar, and cream to a boil in a saucepan.
- When it reaches a boil, whisk in the sifted cocoa powder and reduce the heat to a simmer for 4 minutes, stirring often. The mix may bubble up so reduce the temperature if you need to.
- Whisk the softened gelatin into the hot cocoa mixture until dissolved.
- Cool the glaze to room temperature, then chill completely, at least 3 hours. The glaze will set but don’t worry, you heat it to pour over the cake.
Step Five: Finishing the cake
- Use a hair dryer on a low heat setting to gently warm the pan so that the mousses slightly melts and the cake release from the tin.
- Remove the base of the cake tin and the baking parchment. If you want to soften the top edge of the cake or neaten the sides you can warm a palette knife in hot water and use it to tidy the mousse.
- Warm the chilled glaze, stirring occasionally until just melted and smooth and pour this over the cake.
- If you have a cooling rack place the cake on the rack over some parchment paper before you pour on the glaze, the parchment paper will catch any glaze that pours off the cake.
For some reason I do not have a cooling rack so I placed my cake on a 9 inch cake base on top of an inverted bowl, over some baking parchment and then spooned over the glaze, I should have warmed my glaze more but I lost my nerve and was convinced it would all slide off the cake, as such I do not have the lovely glossy finish of Ms Olsons Torte. Don’t lose your nerve!
- Place the finished cake in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes, then transfer it to your onto cake tray or plate.
You can serve the cake on its own or with some unsweetened whipped cream but a sharp raspberry coulis would really set this off.
Anna Olson recommend chilling he cake until you are ready to serve however I found that I prefer it at room temperature so that the mousse is a little softer.
The cake will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.