a year in food and life

The Graduation Saga, Part III: cake! June 19, 2007

Filed under: Dessert,food — superspark @ 1:44 pm

I am lucky enough to have friends who realize that a celebration isn’t truly a celebration without a cake. Back in Cambridge, MA for my graduation a couple of weeks ago, it was less a question of whether there would be a cake, so much as an issue of what sort of cake Zarin and Amanda might make. We have a long history of cakes in our mutual past. Some are classics, like Amanda’s carrot cake or Zarin’s chocolate raspberry “test” cake that we got to sample before her now-fiance came to visit one summer. Others have been a bit more unusual. For instance on the last birthday before I moved out to California, they kidnapped me and drove me out to a drive-in in the suburbs where we watched a truly dreadful movie (Skeleton Key– yikes!) while picnicking on a towering whipped cream and berry cake that was nearly twice as tall as it was wide.

Knowing that I’ve been bored with traditional cakes of late, to celebrate my graduation, Zarin and Amanda contrived to make perhaps the most unusual and ridiculously involved cake that I have ever seen, a yogurt mousse cake with honeyed raspberries and mint syrup. In addition to the genoise cake itself, there were two separate syrups, a mousse, and a honeyed berry. Assisted by Dylan, the ladies did most of the actual preparation the night before I arrived in town and so until I actually read the tome recipe when Amanda e-mailed it to me the other day (fingers cramping, no doubt), I hadn’t fully realized what a commitment this cake was. Although each of the actual parts was easy enough to make, the ingredient list and prospect of all doing all of the dishes generated by the various components would be enough to dissuade less dedicated friends.


Here we are on our cross-country road trip in 2005 (l. to r.: Zarin, me, and Amanda) – aren’t they cute?

As for the taste, it was definitely the most unusual cake I’ve had. With both a subtle tea essence and the yogurt-flavored mousse frosting (deceptively unhealthy, as it turns out), it is a cake for a sophisticated palate. Less cloyingly sweet than your standard layer cake, the crumb was moist and rich and the raspberries were a terrific addition on top. The mint sauce was another story. After dousing our slices in the green syrup, we each decided that the mint flavor just didn’t quite fit with the rest. Not only was it sort of jarring in appearance for a dessert (being a bright mint green- note that it didn’t make it into the photo), but it made us think of pork chops, just about the last thing you want on your mind while having a slice of cake. To put it delicately, a little mint syrup to decorate the plate and add some contrast would be more than enough.

Many thanks to Amanda, Zarin, and Dylan for expanding my cake horizons and for making my graduation such a special one. Thanks also to my mom and dad, pictured below, for making the trip up from New York and fighting the crowds of other proud parents to share the day with me!


From The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

Yogurt Mousse Cake with Honeyed Raspberries and Mint Syrup

The Genoise Cake:

1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350.
Grease and flour two 9” pans.

2. Sift together the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to
combine, set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and
sugar by hand. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water,
making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and heat
the mixture, whisking constantly, until warm. Transfer the bowl to
the electric mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, beat on
high speed until tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed
to low and beat in the lemon zest and vanilla.

4. Transfer the melted butter to a small bowl if necessary and
transfer about 3/4 cup of the batter to the bowl. Stir until blended.
Fold this mixture into the remaining batter. Scrape batter into the
prepared pans.

5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly
touched and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans
on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

6. Invert the cakes onto the wire rack and cool completely.

The Earl Grey Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 earl grey tea bag
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and place over
medium-high heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes
to a boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from
the heat and add the tea bag. Let steep for 15 minutes, stirring

2. Remove the tea bag, pressing down on it to extract any liquid.
Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to a small container, cover, and
set aside.

The Yogurt Mousse:

2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided
2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1. Set a sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth in a bowl and
scape the yogurt into the sieve. Let drain at room temperature for 45

2. Spoon the drained yogurt (there should be just over 1 cup) into a
medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest and
vanilla extract

3. Put 1/3 cup of heavy cream in a small, heatproof cup. Sprinkle
with the gelatin and let it soften for a few minutes. Fill a small
saucepan one-third of the way with water and bring to a simmer over
medium heat.

4. Meanwhile, put the remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream into the bowl
of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat at high speed
until the cream begins to form soft mounds. Gradually add the
confectioner’s sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

5. Place the cup containing the cream and gelatin mixture into the
pan of simmering water. Stir until the gelatin dissolves completely.
Pour the gelatin through a sieve into the yogurt. Whisk until
blended. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the whipped cream.

Assemble the cake:
1. If you made two cake layers, cut them into four using a long,
serrated knife. (We increased the recipe to make three independent
layers, rather than two cut in half.)

2. Place one of the layers (cut side up if you cut the layers) on a
cardboard cake round or cake plate. Brush the layer with 1/3 of the
tea syrup. Using a small metal offset spatula, spread about 1 1/2 cups
yogurt mousse over the cake layer. Top with another layer. Brush
another 1/3 of tea syrup over it, and spread with 1 1/2 cups yogurt
mousse. Top with another cake layer. Brush with the remaining syrup.
Scrape the remaining mousse on the top of the cake and spread evenly
over the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake until you make the mint
syrup, honeyed raspberries and eat it.

The honeyed raspberries

2 tbsp honey
1 6oz container of raspberries

Warm the honey in a microwave (for about 10 secs at high power) or
in a small saucepan over low heat. Put the berries in a medium bowl
and pour over the warm honey. Using a rubber spatula, toss the
raspberries with the honey until they are evenly coated. Arrange the
berries (they will stat to clump as they cool) in the center of the
cake, piling them up.

The mint syrup:

1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp water

Combine all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and
process until the mint is finely chopped. Transfer to a plastic
squeeze bottle or small pitcher and refrigerate until ready to use.


2 Responses to “The Graduation Saga, Part III: cake!”

  1. connie Says:

    lovely cake and congrats on graduation… even though i’m a bit late. i know where that picture was taken 😉

  2. mikaalls Says:

    Variety of very delicious dessert and food

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