Every year since my 18th, my birthday was celebrated elsewhere then home. It has been Paris, New York, Paris again, Barcelona, Brno. But, even if I had enjoyed all these wonderful places and seen them at their best, I wanted so much to have a simply, calm, home birthday party. I wanted to have the pleasure of baking my own cake, of preparing and anticipating the party.
This year, I was more than happy when I could do this. I simply realized that there’s really no better feeling than be at home with the loved ones. I grew up subtile. I just now see that my horizon has changed, that I’m not looking anymore for fugacious adventures, but instead for something that will last. I’m getting older, you may say, but is not just the fact that we are getting older by each day and year passed, it is the fact that you will get older but not wiser.
I see myself doing things which I have never thought I will do. And more than this, I stubborn not let go any of the things I started and go beyond my limits. And actually, this is the thing I learnt in the past years, we need to learn how to be patient and how to not let go passions, dreams, ideas, projects, just because they are not done at the time we expect. The hardest thing is to keep going when you don’t see any light. But I have never known easy paths, and struggling with life has been more kind of daily activity.
On this new birthday and along the way, I have finally learnt how to be consistent, how to let go childish dreams and replace them by more wise ones, how to build a better version of myself. I learnt I do not want to live in a heartless life, that to be different is not a flaw, and it really matters for the right people. Uniformity is for the weak ones and no matter how different I will be for others, there’s nothing more hallowed in me than my vision, avidness and ideas.
I made this cake together with my boyfriend and is the result of our love. On my birthday I feel giving the best of me to the one who has been next to me unconditional and I feel enough fortunate to have next to me someone who takes the challenge of baking a birthday cake, just to see me happy, because he loves me. I’m thrilled to have spent my birthday in peace and love with my better half. May all of you feel the love in each thing you do!
The Love Cake – Raspberries, Nut Ganache, Praline Mousse and Cocoa Sponge Cake (recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)
Ingredients for the sponge cake:
125g all-purpose flour
60g Dutch cocoa
1/2 cup raspberry syrup
1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Spray with vegetable oil (or butter and flour) a round removable bottom 22cm pan. Sift flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl and set aside. Separate 2 eggs, placing yolks in a large bowl and whites in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the 2 yolks with 55g sugar on medium speed until thick and light yellow, about 2 minutes. Beat in the other 2 whole eggs, one at a time, blending well between additions.
2. Using clean, dry beaters, beat the 2 egg whites with remaining 55g sugar until slightly thickened and frothy, about 2 minutes. Add egg-white mixture to egg-yolk mixture and beat to blend. Add flour-cocoa powder mixture; fold just to blend. Spread out evenly on prepared pan.
3. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Cut crosswise the cake,it will result 2 layers. Brush cake all over with raspberry syrup.
Ingredients for the praline:
120g roasted hazelnuts and walnuts
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
1. Stir sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and cook without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until amber in color, 7–8 minutes. Stir in nuts, then pour onto 1 prepared sheet, separating nuts. Let cool. Transfer candied nuts to a food processor. Purée until smooth.
Ingredients for the nut ganache :
200g heavy cream, 15%
60g praline (see recipe above)
pinch of kosher salt
60g unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Purée cream, praline, salt in a food processor. With machine running, add butter gradually, puréeing until smooth between additions.
Ingredients for praline chocolate mousse:
100g dark chocolate (do not exceed 72% cacao), chopped
60g praline (see recipe above)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Melt chocolate on bain-marie, then add the butter and praline. Stir until melted and smooth.
Assembly the cake:
1. You should have already brushed the cake layers with raspberry syrup in order to make them moist (not too moist though). Place your first layer of cake in the same pan in which you baked it. Spread nut ganache over first cake layer (the bottom), then spread mousse over ganache and chill about 15 minutes. Top cake with the other layer and continue spreading the ganache and mousse, as before. Place in refrigerator (you should still keeping it in the pan) and chill overnight.
2. take out the cake from the pan (very carefully). Garnish on sides with roasted hazelnuts and raspberries. Let cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.