Monday, March 3, 2014

Prajitura amandina

Lesson in Romanian: Prajitura means "cake" or "confection". Amandina is the name for this type of cake: a syrup-soaked, layered chocolate sponge cake. And all that for two different festivals you may or may not have missed this weekend: Mărțișor and Carnaval.


Carnaval - I don't think it's needed to explain what it is. But perhaps you don't know why we're celebrating: carnaval is celebrated directly before christian "lent": the 40 days of fasting before Easter. So before people started this fasting period, they had to get rid of all the food they had left. And what better way to use up all the food you're forbidden to eat for 40 days, by binge-eating everything in one go during one big party? Sounds very reasonable to me.

Mărțișor - if you're not Romanian, chances are you have no clue. Mărțișor is a traditional Romanian celebration on March the 1st. It marks the beginning of spring. It traditionally symbolizes the beginning of a new year, the continuation of life and fertility. During this celebration people give each other small talismans: a red and white string tied into a bow with a small token. The talismans would ward against evil spirits and give the wearer good luck, health and prosperity.


Amandine is actually not related to either Mărțișor or Carnaval. Neither festival seems to have some traditional food, so I decided to go with a tradtional Romanian cake in stead. Amandine is a variation of what we would probably call Chocolate truffle cake.

Amandine
Makes a 20x30cm cake - adapted from grabielacuisine and roxyskitchen

Chocolate sponge cake
6 eggs
200 grams suga
40 ml (sunflower) oil
40 ml water
200 grams flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
Syrup  
200 ml water *  
5 tablespoons sugar  
1 tablespoon honey  
2 tablespoons instant coffee *
1 tablespoon rum (optional)








Butter-cream layer
270 grams butter
200 grams chocolate
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
Chocolate ganache glaze
200 grams chocolate
100-150 ml whipping cream or milk







Chocolate sponge cake
1. Seperate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
2. Beat the egg whites with the sugar until stiff. (In my opinion gradually adding the sugar to the beaten egg whites works best.)
3. Beat the egg yolk until light and creamy. Gradually adding the oil while beating.
4. Fold the egg yolk into the egg whites. Add the water and fold until you have an even mixture.
5. Sift the flour with the cocoa and fold gently into the egg mixture, while taking care not to over mix.
6. Bake in a preheated oven of 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out dry.

Syrup **

1. Add all the ingredients, except for the rum, into a small pan. Put on high heat until everything is dissolved.
2. Add the rum while the syrup is cooling.

Butter-cream layer
- It is best to start making this layer when the cake has completely cooled down. At the very least, never put this cream in the fridge as the chocolate will set and it will become impossible to work with.
1. Melt the chocolate and leave to cool slightly.
2. Cream the butter, add the melted chocolate, and mix.
3. Sift the powdered sugar together with the cocoa and mix into the butter. Add more sugar to taste, if needed.

Assembly
1. Once your chocolate sponge cake has cooled down completely, cut the cake in half (in a way that you can fill it with cream and not have it look rather odd). If needed, even the top by slicing any uneven cake off.
2. Soak the bottom and top cake layers with the syrup. There are two ways to go about doing this: a) sprinkle, b) soak to death so you can actually taste the syrup. As horrible as it might feel while making the cake, please opt for the last one.
3. Spread the cream evenly over the bottom layer. Leave a few millimeteres excess at the sides, as the cream will push to the sides when you add the top layer.
4. Put the top layer on top of the cream and push down gently.
(5. Cutting the cake before adding the glaze gives a nice effect, but is also a lot more work- your pick!)

Finishing touches: Chocolate ganache glaze
1. Melt the chocolate with the whipping cream or milk and pour over the cake.
2. Leave to set before cutting the cake (if you cut it already: it's practically ready to serve!).
3. Add whipped cream, sprinkle nuts, sift cocoa, decorate with chocolate figures or anything else to turn this layered chocolate desert into something fancy!

* Rather than using instant coffee and water, you could use freshly brewed coffee or cappucino. (stronger coffee flavour = better, and you know it!).
** The recipes I found use double the amount of syrup I mention. Since I was totally scared my cake would fall apart I used even less, but try to use at least this much!

This is definitely my longest recipe yet. Despite that, it doesn't take any longer to make than say, a Spanish apple cake. I take my time no matter what kind of recipe I'm conjuring.

On a 'small' side note: I'm loving the chocolateness of this cake, but think it can improve a lot. Like, rather than a light sponge, next time I want to go for a rich brownie cake. And then in stead of heavy butter-cream in the middle, I want to go for something lighter, perhaps adding sour cream for a bit of tang. Oh, and the whole thing needs more coffee flavour. If we're going to bother putting a coffee syrup in it, I want to be able to taste it! Of course, if I/you use all these suggestions, it will definitely not be an Amandine anymore. It might be more of a Chocolate-coffee-brownie-quadruple-layered-truffle-cake-dessert. I'm good at naming cakes, aren't I?


Another Romanian festival we've missed: Dragobete on the 24th of February. This is the Romanian version of Valentine's in which couples show their love for eachother, but is celebrated differently (although how exactly is hard to find, the customs seem to vary greatly depending on age and location). It's a pity I find out about these kind of celebrations only after they've happened. Anyone else knows a celebration I've missed in these first 2 months of the new year? 

2 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! I just really love your blog! I feel like a world traveler even though I sitting in my own kitchen! Always a surprise to check in and see what we're learning about next! Romania? Game on! This looks unbelievable, but I gotta say I'm excited for you to try the "rich brownie cake" route next ... Chocolate-coffee-brownie-quadruple-layered-truffle-cake-dessert? You should toooootally make that! Then airmail it to me! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, you always know how to make my day! :D I really hope I can keep teaching you new things! I'm going to have to disappoint you on the airmail-cake though.. I'm afraid my chocolate-coffee-very-long-name-who-came-up-with-this-anyway?-cake will not really make it to the mail. I doubt such a cake will make it out of my kitchen at all!

      Delete