As much as I would love to feature all of my recipes, including the ones I've prepared, styled, and shot within the last few months but have never quite made it to this blog, these days something keeps me from doing so until I've reached a satisfactory outcome. It's become a philosophy, I think. Perhaps not really a philosophy of an elusive reach for perfection. But more like an aim for only the best I can provide for my readers, because after all, everybody deserves to be able to read a recipe, follow it, and make it work unless I'm bored and decide to play a cruel joke.
Hopefully I didn't set an unrealistic expectation of myself now that I've said that, but I hope you can trust me on this recipe. This unbelievably moist and spongy roll cake is my reward of such trial and error. And as irony would have it--because I hadn't realized this fact up until now that I'm going back to my post--last Valentine's Day I also made a roll cake with Asian flavors in mind. My black sesame roll cake with chocolate whipped cream seemed to strike a chord or two with some of my friends, both those whom I know in real life and those whom I've only had the privilege of exchanging emails with. That was then and it was delicious, I admit. But this version using the sponge cake method is probably a bit better in every way. Granted, it is a sin not to make this a combination of black sesame and chocolate, but the texture in this recipe is what makes it stand out so. Add some creme fraiche whipped cream to the mix and you've got yourself a simple, yet luxurious dessert for your loved ones, or even as a thank-you-for-putting-up with our loud child rearing family gesture to your neighbors. And you know what would be even better? This in the form of black sesame and chocolate whipped cream! Yes yes, that would make this the ultimate dessert for your Asian better half this Valentine's. Or in my case, simply my better half.
My suggestion for obtaining the perfect crumb is to sift approximately 1 1/4 cups of flour into a separate bowl prior to adding it to the egg yolk mixture. This helps ensure that you add exactly 1 1/4 cups of sifted flour into the batter, since sifted versus unsifted yields different results, with the latter rending a dense texture. Given that the final texture is extremely moist and pillowy already, I suggest rolling the cake with a damp cloth for only about 8-10 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't become moist to the point where it practically falls apart. Happy Valentine's Day, friends!
Adzuki Bean Sponge Roll Cake with Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream
Makes one large roll cake
Time: 40-50 minutes, including baking and cooling
Equipment: stand mixer or electric beater, cookie sheet with sides that come up, parchment paper (optional but preferable), damp cloth for rolling
Ingredients for cake
1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour (I used King Arthur brand)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided roughly in half
1 tsp cream of tartar
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned adzuki beans
Ingredients for filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Sift the flour into a bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer bowl or a large bowl and an electric beater, beat the room temp egg whites on medium high speed. Once it starts to foam, add half of the sugar (listed as 1/3 cup) gradually and keep beating for 20 seconds. Add cream of tartar and beat until you can make stiff peaks with the egg whites, like meringues. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the remainder of the divided sugar (listed as 1/3 cup), salt, milk, and adzuki beans until well incorporated. It is time to carefully pour the sifted flour into the egg yolk mixture, carefully folding it with a spatula or whisk until major clumps are gone. Remember, fold gently, don't whisk. Gingerly fold in the egg whites and incorporate just enough so the batter is still fluffy. You can tell it's been over mixed if the batter becomes "flat" and out of air.
Lay a parchment paper on the cookie sheet, pour cake batter, tap the pan onto a flat surface to get rid of uneven bubbles, and bake for approximately 15 minutes, more or less. It is done when it's yellow and the middle of the cake is springy to the touch. Take it out of the oven and immediately lay a damp cloth on a flat surface. Carefully place the cake in its hot state onto the damp cloth and gently, but tightly roll it towards you. Let it cool most of the way in this manner, about 8-10 minutes.
For the filling, simply use a clean large bowl and an electric beater. Try to refrigerate the bowl for best results. Beat the whipping cream on high speed until foamy, adding the sugar gradually, followed by cream of tartar. Mix until it forms stiff peaks, then add the cream fraiche and mix for another 15 seconds.
Roll the cake out of the cloth and let it finish cooling before filling it. Now you may spread the whipped cream liberally, making sure to roll the cake towards you. Cut, serve, and enjoy!
What are you up to this Valentine's Day?
What dessert do you have in mind, if at all?