With its naked layers and cookie crumbs, this is an Italian cream cake with a Momofuku makeover by Rachael Linke of Polka.
Envision layers of the lightest vanilla sponge sandwiched with a sweet and tangy lemon cream and handfuls of crisp and buttery crumbs for added texture. YUM!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
For the sponge: 4 XL free-range eggs | 100g caster sugar | 35g cornflour | 50g plain flour or cake flour | 35g self-raising flour | 2 teaspoons full-cream milk (10mls) and 2 teaspoons butter (10g) melted | ½ teaspoon vanilla extract For the vanilla crumb: 75g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature | 75g caster sugar | 120g plain flour | ¼ teaspoon baking powder | ¼ teaspoon salt | 1 teaspoon vanilla For the lemon cream: 500g regular cream cheese, softened to room temperature | 150g icing sugar, sifted | 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste | 1/2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest | ¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice | 300ml thick cream or whipping cream
WHAT TO DO
For the sponge:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees conventional.
- Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins with baking paper. Set aside.
- Beat eggs with an electric standing mixer for 10 minutes on medium speed until thick and pale in colour.
- Meanwhile, combine flours and sift four times (yes, four times!).
- In a separate bowl, sift caster sugar and set aside.
- Combine milk and butter in a microwave-safe dish. Set microwave to low (or ‘warm’) setting and heat milk and butter for three 20 second bursts, stirring between each, until butter is melted (this is to prevent a butter explosion- I learned this the hard way!). Add vanilla and set aside.
- With the eggs still beating, add a tablespoon of sugar to the eggs at a time, mixing well between each addition, until all the sugar has been added. You should now have a bowl of light and fluffy egg mixture.
- Sift the flour one last time (not even kidding) over the egg mixture and use a nice and bendy spatula to gently fold the flour through, being careful not to knock out too much air. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the flour has been incorporated. It’s difficult to get the mixture perfectly smooth without losing too much air, so a few little bumps and bubbles are fine. I like to poke at a few of the larger lumps to make sure that they’re not pockets of flour. Add the butter and milk mixture and fold through.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. Turn down oven to 170 degrees and bake for another 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven. You will know the cakes are ready when they are lightly golden in colour, springy to the touch and are coming away from the sides of the tin.
- Turn out cakes onto a paper-covered wire rack. Leave the baking paper on to prevent them drying out (I also like to cover them with an upturned plastic container to keep them super moist) and allow them to cool completely.
For the crumble:
- Combine ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Using your hands, rub butter into the dry ingredients until butter is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Clump the mixture into large and small pieces and spread onto a lined baking tray.
- Bake at 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden (it helps to shake the tray every five minutes or so to ensure the crumbs cook evenly). Set aside to cool.
- You can use your hands to play with the crumbs until they look the way you want them to. They will be pretty crispy at this stage but this is so that they will retain some of their texture after absorbing moisture from the lemon cream.
For the lemon cream:
- Beat cream cheese with an electric stand mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes or until smooth.
- Add sifted icing sugar and beat until well combined. Add vanilla, lemon zest and juice and beat to combine.
- Whip cream until soft peaks form and fold through cream cheese mixture. You can adjust the lemon cream to suit your taste by adding more lemon juice or sugar.
To assemble cake, use a long serrated knife and cut each sponge in half horizontally. Sandwich sponge layers with lemon cream and handfuls of the crumble mixture. Top with more crumble and fresh raspberries. Dust with icing sugar to serve. The cake will keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Recipe + Images Rachael Linke, Polka