Extract taken from the Clandestine Cake Club Cook Book *‘A Year of Cake’
Text Copyright © 2015 Lynn Hill
Photography © 2015 Kris Kirkham
The word ‘prom’ is short for ‘promenade concert’, a term dating back to the eighteenth century when outdoor concerts were held in London’s pleasure gardens and the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra played.
These days, the Proms are an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral performances and other events, which culminate in the Last Night of the Proms.
Held at the Royal Albert Hall, the final event is lighter and in many ways different from other prom nights in that the music includes popular classics and patriotic British numbers as well as choral pieces and even the odd singalong.
The finale to such a magnificent musical display demands a celebration to match.
So why not bake one of the grandest cakes named after a performing art? With its layers of cream, liqueur- soaked sponge and chocolate ganache, this refined and elegant opera cake is the perfect encore.
For the Cake
- 3 large egg whites
- 20 g caster sugar
- 110 g ground almonds
- 110 g icing sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 35 g plain flour sifted
- 35 g unsalted butter melted
- 4 tbs liqueur of your choice
- 2 large eggs
- 60 g caster sugar
- 30 g plain flour of cornflour
- 300 ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod seeds scraped
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 100 ml double cream
- 100 ml dark chocolate 70 % cocoa solids chopped into small pieces
- 1 tsp liqueur of your choice
- 100 g caster sugar
- 24 whole blanched almonds
- 100 g almonds chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180c Fan/160c conventional. Grease and line a 35 x 25cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
- Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites in a bowl until you have stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar, beating all the time, until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a shiny meringue. Set aside.
- Beat together the ground almonds, icing sugar and whole eggs until the mixture has doubled in size –this will take about 4 minutes. Fold in the flour, then carefully fold in the meringue mixture in stages taking care not to lose all those lovely air bubbles. Finally incorporate the melted butter by pouring it down the side of the bowl and folding in.
- Pour the mixture into the Swiss roll tin, taking care to level it out. Bake in the oven for 9–12 minutes or until a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and invert on to a clean sheet of baking parchment. Peel away the backing paper but leave it covering the sponge. Leave to cool completely.
- Make the crème legère. In a heatproof bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and flour until well combined.
- Gently heat 200ml of the cream with the vanilla pod and seeds until bubbles appear on the surface. Pass through a sieve before pouring over the egg mixture and mixing until well combined.
- Return the mixture to a clean pan and gently heat, beating all the time to avoid lumps forming. As soon as the mixture thickens, take it off the heat and add the butter, beating until melted and incorporated. Cover the surface of the crème with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to one side to cool completely
- Whip the remaining cream until the whisk leaves a ribbon trail when lifted, then add to the cold crème. Beat until light and smooth. Leave in the fridge until required.
- Make the ganache. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Gently heat the cream until bubbles appear on the side of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave to infuse for 2 minutes. Do not stir. Pour in the liqueur, then starting at the centre, begin to stir and incorporate the whole mixture together. Set aside until cool, then transfer to the fridge to chill.
- Meanwhile, prepare the caramelised almonds for the topping. Put the sugar into a small saucepan over a low heat and leave it to melt and start to turn golden. At this point, add the almonds, swirl the pan then stir the nuts with metal fork (not a wooden spoon) to turn them and make sure they are coated. Turn off the heat, lift the nuts out with the fork and place on a wire rack set over a baking tray to cool.
- To assemble the cake, cut the sponge into four equal layers, then slice two of these layers in half horizontally to make six in total. Drizzle your chosen liqueur over each sponge. Leave for a few moments to soak in.
- Place one of the thicker layers on to a cake stand or plate and spread with one third of the chocolate ganache. Place one of the thin sponge layers on top then cover this with about a third of the crème legère. Place another of the thin sponge layers on top and spread with the second third of ganache.
- Repeat these two thin layers, then top with the remaining thick sponge layer. For neat sides place the cake in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up a little, then take a large sharp knife and square off all four edges. Spread the remaining crème legère over the top and sides of the cake, then press the chopped almonds over the whole cake and decorate the top with the caramelised almonds. Chill if not serving immediately.