If your remember in our last post we mentioned we went to a housewarming party? Well, we didn’t just make one cake. We made two! And here is the other, in full-color limey goodness. When I first watched Lorraine Pascale make her mojito Genoise cake recipe in a MasterChef Australia masterclass I had a hunch it would be perfect for the party that was coming up. I had a hunch it would be a perfect companion to Lia’s chocolate cake and the first bite of my test cake I knew I’d struck gold. Actually, I was sold just by tasting the frosting ;)
I’ve actually made this cake three times in about five weeks. The first time was a little six-inch cake to try out the recipe and adjust it where I thought it needed it. The second time was the full-size eight-inch cake for the party. The third time was another six-incher for pictures. Can you believe I’m still not tired of it? I’m actually wishing I had some more to eat and it’s only been a couple weeks since Lia and I ate the last of it.
This cake is based around an Italian Genoise sponge. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a very light sponge made without a raising agent so you’re whipping the hell out of eggs and sugar over a double boiler to get a ton of air into the mixture, and at the end folding in butter and flour. The end result is a light and sweet sponge that is a perfect base to do almost anything with.
The layers of sponge cake are brushed with a mint/lime/rum sugar syrup and covered in a sweet lime buttercream frosting. The outside is covered in a pecan praline that adds a nice bitter and crunchy counterpoint to the lime and buttercream. Squeeze a wedge of lime over your cake and you’ve got something really refreshing, I’m telling ya. This cake is perfect for a summer celebration. The cake is only as sweet as you want to make the buttercream so you can eat a lot of it. Now go bust out your kitchen scale and make one!
Mojito Genoise Cake Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8 slices (two 8″ cake pans)
260 g plain flour
260 g caster sugar (baker’s sugar)
115 g melted butter
50 ml water
150 g light brown sugar
150 ml white rum
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 bunch of fresh mint leaves
300g powdered sugar
150g softened butter
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla paste
Zest and juice of 1 or 2 limes
150g pecan pieces
150g granulated sugar
Start your sugar syrup first so the flavors can have time to infuse. You can even make this a day ahead if you like. Put the brown sugar, water, lime juice and rum in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil for about 3 minutes or until it starts to thicken slightly. Take off the heat and toss in the lime zest and mint. Give a stir and set aside to cool.
To start the sponge pre-heat your oven to 385°F (or about 200°C), spray two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray or butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Fill a medium saucepan a third of the way with water and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Crack your 6 eggs into a large metal bowl and whisk them a little bit to get them started. Add the baker’s sugar and place the bowl over on top of your pan of hot water. The heat will help the eggs foam up higher for a fluffy texture. With a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for about 8-10 minutes. It should increase greatly in volume and be very silky. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue to beat the mixture for another 4-5 minutes. Your eggs should be at a soft ribbon stage. When you take your beaters out the ribbons of egg that fall back in should take 5 seconds or so to sink back in somewhat.
Pour your melted and cooled butter around the edges of the mix in the bowl so you don’t knock the air out of the mix. With a rubber spatula, fold the butter into the eggs carefully making sure to get it off the bottom of the bowl. Once that is just incorporated, add the flour the same way around the edges of the bowl. You can add half of the flour first and fold it in a little then add the second half if you need to. Gently fold the flour in, making sure to get all the lumps out. When that is smooth and uniform, pour equal amounts into the lined cake pans and bake about 20 minutes or until it smells done and a knife or toothpick in the middle comes out clean. The sponge should be springy to the touch. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack completely.
To make the pecan praline, you need to make a dry caramel. Pour the sugar evenly in a medium size pan over low heat and allow the sugar to melt. It will seem like nothing is happening but suddenly it will start to melt. Try not to touch it too much until it is all melted. When it is a nice dark color and smells like bitter caramel, quickly toss in your pecans and give a few quick stirs with a wooden spoon or spatula (do NOT use rubber because it will melt) and pour onto a silpat or a greased baking tray. When cooled completely, break up the toffee into small chunks and blitz in a food processor or blender attachment of a stick blender (or even a regular blender) until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs.
For the buttercream, put the butter and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk or beat with a hand mixer on high for a few minutes until it’s pale and fluffy. Toss in the lime zest and add juice to taste. If the frosting gets too thin add a little bit more sugar to bring it back to the right consistency.
Trim the tops of the cake rounds slightly to allow the sugar syrup to soak in easier. Eat the trimmings (because they’re delicious.) Brush on a layer of white rum first, then brush on a generous layer of the sugar syrup until both halves have a good amount on. (Boozy cake is a good cake.) With a palette knife, put a small blob of buttercream on the base of your pedestal to secure the cake and drop the first layer onto it, syrup soaked side up. Spread on a nice layer of your lime buttercream and add the second sponge layer syrup-side down so the top of the cake is square and flat. Cover the sides with a thin layer of buttercream and give the top the same amount you gave the middle.
When the top is smooth and flat, cover the sides with the pecan praline. There’s no sexy way to do it, just flatten handfuls of it to the side of the cake. To reduce potential mess, have your pedestal standing in a baking tray. When finished, section the top of the cake into 8 equal wedges with the back of a knife. Add a lime wedge atop each section along with any large chunks of praline you saved from blitzing. Squeeze the wedge of lime over your piece before eating for added punch.
If you only want to make a six-inch version, simply cut the recipe in half and use two six-inch cake tins.
Adapted from Lorraine Pascal’s Baking Made Easy