Monday, 8 February 2016

Cherry, matcha & sakura mousse cake

It's early days, but a gentle flourish of pink has begun to scatter across the branches of the large cherry in the orchard. I'm careful not to overdo it, but confiscating a small handful of flowers shouldn't have much impact on this year's cherry crop - today's storms are more of a worry in that respect. The Japanese love eating cherry flowers, or 'Sakura'; I've used Matcha in the sponge - the subtle green tea notes work perfectly with the sweet cherry mousse filling.

For the cake:
100g Butter
100g Caster sugar

2 Eggs
85g Plain flour
15g Matcha powder
1Tsp Baking powder

For the cherry mousse:
600g De-stoned frozen cherries
3 Leaves of sheet gelatine
3 Egg whites
150g Caster sugar
300ml Double cream

To decorate:
Icing sugar
Cherry blossom (optional)

1 Heat the oven to 180c/160 fan/gas 4. Whisk the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Sieve in the flour and matcha powder, then beat again until you have a thick batter. Pour into a lined 20cm loose-based cake tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the top of the cake. Transfer to a wire cooling rack with the bottom of the cake facing upwards.
2 Soften the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Tip the frozen cherries into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Blitz to a purée, pass through a sieve and then add the gelatine. Stir until it has dissolved, then set aside to cool to room temperature (but don't refrigerate).
3 Wash the cake tin, then line with cling film, allowing for a generous overhang all the way round. Sit the cake on a work surface, this time the right way up. The cake should have risen nicely with a domed top; two level tiers of sponge are needed here though so use a bread knife to trim off the curved top and make the cake level. Cut the levelled cake into two equal-sized discs, then put the top half into the lined tin.
4 Whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy, then whisk in the sugar bit-by-bit until thick, glossy and forming stiff peaks. Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it starts to thicken, then fold into the meringue with the cooled cherry mixture.
5 Pour the pink mousse over the sponge base, level with the back of a spoon and then top with the other half of sponge (with the bottom of the original cake facing upwards). Gather the cling film up over the cake and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours before serving - overnight if possible. To serve, dust with icing sugar and cherry flowers.