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Vanilla Cake with Whipped Ganache

Days come when all you want is a good, basic, real deal cake. No unrefined sugar, not too many substitutions or none at all. Lots of fluffy icing. Vanilla base. Simple and sweet and satisfying.

Yesterday happened to be that day and for reasons unknown I felt that I must have, nay, I needed to bake a cake. I didn’t feel like chocolate, certainly didn’t want carrot; no, I just wanted a plain vanilla cake with whipped chocolate frosting. The temperature was hovering in the high 80s so it wasn’t too much of a hardship to turn on the oven. Besides, cake seemed important.

In an alternate life I am the kind of lady who brings cake to the park to picnic with friends along with delicate cups of tea sweetened just so (in reality I meet friends in the park but we’re more likely to bring bananas and ‘cookie bars’ and apple slices for our kiddos while we sip water instead of anything fancy). But oh it’s a lovely fantasy: a mild breeze tossing around the branches above our heads, the soft hush of the sea behind a dune, a pungent pot of tea (and perhaps something a bit stronger) close at hand. One day when our littles can occupy themselves a bit more on their own — I’ll make it happen. Not that I’m wishing these sweet early years away, but every so often ‘twould be nice to have an uninterrupted hot cup of something …

I digress. Until then, we have this lush and lovely cake. Simple, classic, vanilla-scented and bolstered by just a tiny bit of spelt flour (I can’t eschew whole grains utterly, even in a true treat of a cake). I think I’ll back up a slice for S and I to share tomorrow under the shade of the desert palm trees.

[print_this]Vanilla Cake with Whipped Ganache
I keep this as a simple one-layer 9-inch cake, but you could bake it in two cake pans (or split the layer) and fill and frost it with the ganache. Alternately, fill the layers with your favorite jam, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with a generous spoonful of whipped cream.

Makes 10 servings.

For cake
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup spelt flour + 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk

For frosting
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup heavy cream

To make the cake
Heat oven to 350 F. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until soft and add the sugar slowly, beating until light. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat to blend well. Whisk together the flour/s, baking powder and salt. Alternately blend the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture in three stages, and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Stir a third of the whites into the cake batter, and then gently fold in the rest.

Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

To make the whipped ganache
Heat cream until just under boiling. Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour over the cream. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk to blend the chocolate and cream fully; mixture should be smooth. Place in fridge and chill for about an hour. Remove from fridge and, with an electric mixer, beat on high speed until ganache is fluffy and paler in color. Fully frost the cake.


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