This strawberry cake has been sitting with me since December, and I thought it would be great for Christmas, but turns out, it’s way better for February— month of all things pink.
The sponge is a delicate almond one with a white chocolate and rose buttercream and a strawberry and tamarind compote filling inside.
Strawberry and imli is just one of those flavour pairings that I stumbled upon quite by accident (last year I played with strawberries and jowari tomatoes to make an exquisite jam) but have fallen head over heels for since. You could use fresh tamarind— these come out of a box, and the tamarind pods are quite big, though you’d still have to go through the entire box to produce pulp enough for about 2 cups worth of strawberry compote. The fresh tamarind will impart a more pronounced fruitiness as opposed to the upfront sharpness of the extract that we use on a daily basis. Having said that, I would strongly urge you to go by taste because sometimes strawberries might not end up being so sweet, in which case you might need to use a little less tamarind pulp, fresh or concentrated.
This cake is a lovely gift for Valentine’s, but also fabulous for that end of season strawberry treat. Use the remainder of fresh strawberries to decorate the top, and bid these gorgeous red berries goodbye.
Rose Cake With A Strawberry and Tamarind Compote and White Chocolate Buttercream
Yield 1 6-inch two layered cake
A delicate sponge gives way to a tart strawberry compote and the sweet white chocolate buttercream rounds everything up quite nicely. Finish with chopped strawberries on top or leave the cake as is.
For The Cake
All-purpose flour 130g
Almond meal 45g
Baking powder 1 tsp
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Caster sugar 145g
Salted Butter 100g, room temp, cut into cubes
Egg whites 100g, room temp
Milk 137g, any kind is fine
Rose water (Keys brand) 1 tsp
Vanilla bean paste 1/2 tsp
For The Strawberry and Tamarind Compote
Strawberries 175g, thinly sliced
Tamarind extract from 1 golf ball sized piece of tamarind (adjust the amount of tamarind you use as per the sweetness of the strawberries)
Lime juice 1 tbsp
For The Rose and White Chocolate Buttercream
White chocolate 75g, roughly chopped
Egg whites 130g
Unsalted butter 250g, soft at room temp, cut into cubes
Rose water 1/2 tsp, Keys brand again
Salt a pinch
A drop of red food colour to make the buttercream pink
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and butter and line two 6-inch cake tins.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the all-purpose flour, cornflour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Let the stand mixer run for 3 minutes on low speed or until the dry ingredients have been well combined.
Increase the speed of the stand mixer to medium and add the butter in a piece at a time until all the butter is used up. Continue to beat for 3-5 minutes until the mixture starts to look sandy in texture.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, rose water, milk and vanilla. Reduce the stand mixer’s speed to a medium-low and drizzle in this mixture and continue to beat. Once you’re done pouring everything, again turn back the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes, or until the batter looks fluffy.
Divide the batter between the two cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until it passes the cake test when a skewer is inserted in the centre. Let the cakes cooling their tins for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack and letting them cool completely.
Next up, make the strawberry and tamarind compote by adding all the ingredients for the compote in a medium-sized saucepan and placing it over medium-low heat. Cook this mixture, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t catch, until the fruit breaks down and there’s little to no moisture left. This whole process from start to finish should take about 15-20 minutes. Pour out this mixture into another bowl and let it cool preferably outside or in a refrigerator.
You can start on the icing once you’re done making the compote. I usually time the making of the icing with the cakes cooling.
Begin by making a double boiler setting on your stovetop, which entails taking a saucepan and a bowl that would fit snugly over the pan without touching the contents of the pan. Fill the saucepan with water (1-2 inches only) and bring it up to a bare simmer. Place the white chocolate in the bowl and heat the chocolate, stirring often so that the chocolate melts evenly. Once the white chocolate has melted completely, take the bowl off the pan and let it cool.
Next, take the egg whites and sugar in another bowl that also fits snugly over the saucepan and add to this bowl the egg whites and sugar. Place again over the saucepan of barley simmering water and heat, whisking all the while as you go until the mixture reaches 70 degrees celsius on a candy thermometer, or until the sugar has dissolved completely and a bit fo the mixture rubbed between your fingers doesn’t feel grainy and the mixture is hot to the touch.
Transfer this hot mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and with the whisk attachment, run the stand mixer for up to 10 minutes, or until the meringue starts to hold stiff peaks. By this time, the bowl should not be hot anymore and the meringue should be glossy. Stop whisking, and switch the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment. With the stand mixer running on medium-low, add a tablespoon of the butter at a time until all the butter has been used up. Next up, add the melted white chocolate, followed by the rose essence, pinch of salt and the red food colour drop. Increase the mixer’s speed to high and continue beating for about 5 minutes or until the mixture looks fluffy and light like buttercream.
To assemble the cake, torte the tops of both cakes. Take one layer and spread about 3 generous tablespoons of buttercream over the top and down the sides of the cake. Use a spoon to create a little dam in the centre for the compote, pushing some of the buttercream towards the corners to a create a pretty white cavity. Spoon the compote into this cavity and proceed to place the second layer of cake over this one.
Repeat with 3-4 tablespoons of the frosting and urge it down the sides as well. Now cover the top and the sides of the cake properly with a thin layer of buttercream. This is your crumb coat. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill this crumb layer for 30 minutes before taking it out and giving it a final finish of thick icing again on top and down the sides. Place again in the refrigerator for 30 minutes at least before slicing in.