The Spumoni Cake

Spumoni cake? What on earth is that? Is this an ice-cream cake? No. In fact this is a cake inspired by the Italian gelato dessert called Spumoni. The original is Cherry, Pistachio, and Chocolate gelato layered together. It was actually what was the origin for Neapolitan that we here in the US are familiar with. To make this into a cake though had a fun turn of events transpire.

It started with purchasing a copy of a magazine called Bake from Scratch (which I love by the way). In it they had a recipe for a Spumoni Cake. I was so intrigued by this that I marked it as something I wanted to try making. Theirs however was strawberry, pistachio, and chocolate. Sadly the magazine got forgotten about and I went on baking and cooking. Some time after I also purchased a copy of Bravetart. This cookbook has become my go to for all things baking as the author often gives recommendations to “Mix it up”. What I love about this is learning how to make baked goods my own by learning how and when to infuse the flavors I want to use. A good example of this was with her White Mountain Layer Cake. At the end of the recipe she talks about how she made this into a hazelnut torte by reducing the amount of flour, adding hazelnuts, placing both into a food processor together, and blitzing them thill they were the same consistency. I loved this tip! I first did it in my “Peanut Butter Cup” Cake by making a honey roasted peanut flavored cake. This worked AMAZINGLY!

Armed with this technique I started thinking about my mother-in-law’s birthday. She loves cake. I wanted to make her a special cake. My thoughts drifted back to a pistachio, vanilla, rose water, cake I have made a few times and thought this would be a great time to try improving that cake. The flavors I was thinking about were pistachio and raspberry. This took me down a rabbit hole of thinking about my Passover dessert that focused on raspberry and lychee. Knowing it would be hard to bring the lychee flavor through in a cake I was then thinking about doing three layers. I wanted to do a pistachio, a raspberry, and a macadamia layered cake with lychee flavored filling. Sounds good, right? Well as I thought about how to incorporate the fruit flavor some how it hit me. What if I could do it dried? The problem was dried fruit is way too sticky. Then it hit me freeze-dried! I went to my local market and looked for freeze dried fruit. The only thing I could find was strawberry. I wasn’t thrilled about this but decided I could make it work but I needed to rethink my flavor combination. Another epiphany, chocolate! So I had it decided it was now going to be pistachio, strawberry, and chocolate.

As soon as I got home with the freeze-dried fruit it occurred to me that this flavor combination was sounding really familiar. I thought I remembered something similar in Bake from scratch. Sure enough that was the flavor combination they used! They did however incorporate the flavor using wet ingredients like strawberry jam and pistachio paste. This got me all excited and I got to work. First was making my flavored flours. I used the technique from Bravetart and reduced my flour by how much freeze-dried fruit I was going to add and blitzed the two together in the food processor. The smell was amazing!

The only catch with my recipes was that each one was designed to make a two layer cake. This meant with making 3 different flavors I had a total of 6 layers! Thankfully cake freezes very well. So I wrapped up the extra layers and froze them for a later use.

I did find that once you bake the cakes the flavor is less intense than when I made the flours so I have increased the amount of fruit to be use in my recipe so the next time I am making this cake I will get a bigger and better flavor. I also have as an ingredient to use strawberry extract which I did not have when I did this cake but I think it will help lift the flavor to balance better with the pistachio and chocolate. Also since all my recipes are in weight if you want a go at this cake you can always just try halving the recipe to just make one layer of each flavor.

After getting the cakes all baked it was time to think about what would go between them. I wanted something soft and silky to go on top of my chocolate layer however my idea was a whipped ganache since I didn’t have the time to make a proper mouse. This seemed good in theory but I ended up with something far firmer than I would have liked. As for the other filling layer I had canned strawberry puree that I thought I could reduce into a jam or jelly but I took it too far and it got way too thick. I ended up having to cut it with the buttercream just to make it spreadable. To finish it off I used a simple but trusty Italian buttercream.

In the end I had a fun and unique cake where I got to use new ideas and techniques. The over all cake was plenty delicious and I made my notes as to what to change for next time. It’s all about learning and trying new things.

Spumoni Cake (This will make two layers of every cake)

STRAWBERRY CAKE:

  • 12 ounces Cake Flour
  • 9 ounces Freeze Dried Strawberries
  • 16 ounces Granulated Sugar
  • 9.5 grams Baking Powder
  • 5.8 grams Baking Soda
  • 2.9 grams Kosher Salt
  • 11.9 grams Glycerol Monostearate
  • 6 ounces Almond Oil
  • 6 ounces Unsalted Butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 8½ ounces Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 ounce Strawberry Extract
  • 8 ounces Buttermilk
  • 8 ounces Whole Milk, warmed

PISTACHIO CAKE:

  • 12 ounces Cake Flour
  • 9 ounces Unsalted Pistachios
  • 16 ounces Granulated Sugar
  • 9.5 grams baking powder
  • 5.8 grams baking soda
  • 2.9 grams kosher salt
  • 11.9 grams Glycerol Monostearate
  • 6 ounces Pistachio Oil
  • 6 ounces Unsalted Butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 8½ ounces egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ounce Pistachio Extract
  • 8 ounces Buttermilk
  • 8 ounces Whole Milk, warmed

CHOCOLATE CAKE:

  • 620 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 420 grams Cake Flour
  • 130 grams Cocoa Powder
  • 15 grams Salt
  • 15 grams Baking Soda
  • 15 grams Baking Powder
  • 11 grams Glycerol Monostearate
  • 340 grams Buttermilk
  • 340 grams Hazelnut Oil
  • 150 grams Egg
  • 25 grams Vanilla
  • 340 grams Boiling Water

Directions

FOR THE CAKES:

Pre heat the oven to 300ºf. Spray two 9-inch pans with a non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment.

For each of the cakes start with adding all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and carefully mix together with a whisk. For the strawberry and pistachio cakes make the flavored fours first by adding the freeze dried fruit or nuts to the flour in a food processor and pulse until everything is the same consistency. Add to the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well till everything is the same color. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the wet ingredients. Secure the bowl to the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low until the liquid is homogenous. With a large spoon add the dry ingredients one spoonful at a time with the mixer still running. Once all the dry ingredients have been added and fully incorporated slowly add the warm liquid.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 40-50 minutes (the chocolate cake may take a little longer) or until a instant read thermometer reads between 205ºf and 210ºf. Let fully cool in their pans before turning out onto a cooling rack and moving on to the next flavor of cake.

Once each of the cakes is fully cooled fully wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until you’re ready to use them.

FOR THE FILLINGS:

Between the strawberry and pistachio cakes fill with a strawberry jam or strawberry preserves. Between the pistachio and chocolate layers fill with a whipped chocolate ganache or a chocolate mouse.

For this cake I uses some canned pureed strawberries I had and reduced them a little too far so I had to add frosting to make it spreadable. For the chocolate ganache I used a 50/50 mix of dark chocolate and whipping cream. After melting the chocolate and mixing in the cream let it cool. Once cooled it can be whipped.

FOR THE ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  • 400 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 2 ⅝ fl ounces Water
  • 5.25 ounces Egg Whites (about 5)
  • 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 ½ pounds Unsalted Butter
  • 1 ounce Vanilla Extract

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook the mixture until it reaches 248º f. Keep a close eye on it.

Meanwhile, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk just until frothy.

As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 248º immediately remove from the heat, removed the candy thermometer, and slowly pour into the mixing bowl with the speed set to low. Try to pour as close to the side of the bowl as possible to minimize splashing. Be careful as the syrup is very hot. Once all the syrup has been added slowly raise the speed to high and continue to whisk until mixture cools to room temperature. Anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the meringue has cooled slowly add the butter one large dollop at a time until fully incorporated then add the next dollop until all the butter is added and fully incorporated. Lastly, add the vanilla and or any flavorings you’re going to use whip till it’s light and fluffy. Use immediately. If you don’t use it all it freezes really well. To use from frozen, thaw, re-whip and use!

Now, assemble the cake and enjoy!

Spumoni Cake

3 thoughts on “The Spumoni Cake

  1. I enjoyed the subtle flavors of this cake. It was not an ‘ in your face’ kind of cake! The frosting, too, was creamy and delicious and not too sweet like most cake frosting can be. Delicious! What are your decorations on the top made out of?

    Liked by 1 person

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