So let’s get started with this blog! As mentioned in the “Welcome” post, the story behind the blog’s name is thanks to the Google translation of a Russian recipe for Birds Milk Cake. The translated recipe advised “it is important not to kill squirrels”, as the word for egg whites is the same as squirrel in Russian. So please note that it is important to not over-beat the egg whites in this recipe!
This cake is light and fluffy with a marshmallow-like filling, thin sponge cake layers at the top and bottom and finished off with a delectable chocolate glaze. It is a great cake that will not leave you feeling weighed down, and will serve as an interesting talking point due to its uniqueness!
100g unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
5 egg whites
150g unsalted butter
2/3 can of condensed milk (roughly)
20g gelatin leaves (or you can also use 1 1/2 tbsp instant gelatin)
1/4 tsp Citric acid
250g dark cooking chocolate
250ml thickened cream
50g unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 220C
Cut 200g unsalted butter into small pieces and beat until soft and creamy (approx 2 minutes)
Add 1/2 cup sugar sugar and beat until well combined
Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla essence
Beat until well combined, add 1 cup plain flour
Beat for a few minutes on medium speed until smooth and thick. If your beaters can’t handle the density of the mix, it is fine to use your muscles and fold the flour in!
Divide the mixture into two parts. If you want to be a perfectionist, the way I do it is by measuring the total weight on the digital scale and calculating the weight of half the mixture (make sure you zero the scales with the bowl on there to begin with!).
Put half of the mixture into a cake tin. So in the perfectionist approach, I put the mixture in until the scales read 217g. I used a 24cm springform cake tin. The good thing with a springform cake tin is you can easily prepare it with baking paper by laying the paper over the base and then closing the tin on top of the paper. Otherwise, just ensure you have covered the bottom of the tin with baking paper as the cake is quite delicate once it is cooked.
Spread the mixture out in the tin. It will be a very thin layer (probably 5mm to 1cm thick). Don’t worry about getting it completely smooth. As this cake is butter based, it will melt into a pretty smooth layer in the oven. Put it in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until it starts to brown.
While the first cake is cooking in the oven, start preparing the gelatin. I used a roasting tray and laid the leaves out in as much of a single layer as possible.
Cover the gelatin leaves in water, enough so they are completely immersed. The Russian recipe has stated to use boiled and cooled water. I just used tap water, I’m not THAT pedantic.
*NOTE: If you prefer to use instant gelatin, just prepare 1 1/2 tablespoons in some boiled water. Don’t do this now though! Wait until we get around to having to use the gelatin later in the recipe.
This is what the cake looks like when it is ready. Brown around the edges, and a lighter brown in the centre.
It should be quite thin (no more than 1cm thick). It is quite delicate so be careful removing from the cake tin. Redo the process with the remaining batter. If the cake tin is still hot, I just run it under some cold water for a little bit and wipe it with a teatowel.
Time to start on the cream filling. Firstly, make a syrup with 1 cup of sugar combined with about 100ml of water in a saucepan on medium heat. I use a pastry brush dipped in water to clean the edges of the pan. This will ensure you don’t have any sugar crystals left, which will then prevent the syrup from crystalising when it is done.
It will take about 7-10 minutes for the sugar syrup to get to where we need it. If you are familiar with sugar syrup measurement terms, it is close to what is called “soft ball” stage.
Whip the 5 eggs whites until soft peaks form (don’t over-beat them!)
On a low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. The egg whites will become nice and glossy and will begin to thicken up. You don’t need to worry that the syrup is still warm.
In a new bowl, cream 150g of unsalted butter until it is light and creamy. Then begin to drizzle about 2/3 of a can of condensed milk. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t measure this exactly. Just aim for a ball park figure.
This is what the mixture of butter and condensed milk will look like when you’re done. Kind of like a creamy syrup.
Take the beaten egg whites and slowly add the butter/condensed milk mixture in, about a tablespoon at a time whilst beating on medium speed.
Once all the butter mixture is combined in, you will have a very fluffy, marshmallow like mixture. When you start adding the butter mixture in, it may appear to coagulate. Don’t worry too much about this, it will all smooth out with your perseverance!
If you are using gelatin leaves, take them out of the water and give a gentle squeeze. Add them into a small saucepan and put over medium heat for no more than a minute, constantly stirring.
Like magic, the gelatin will turn into liquid.
*NOTE: If you are using instant gelatin, now is the time to prepare the gelatin mixture. Just follow the instructions on the package, based on 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Slowly drizzle the gelatin mixture into the cream mixture. Make sure you use the gelatin immediately, otherwise it will clump up as it starts to set.
Take the cake tin and fully line it. Place one of the cooked cakes at the bottom
Spoon the entire cream mixture into the tin
Flatten out the mixture as much as possible, and then put the other cake layer on top. Put it in the fridge to set (about an hour)
This is how it looks once you peel back all of the paper!
Now for the ganache topping. Heat the 200ml cream in the microwave until it is very hot (I did it for around 90 seconds on high). Add the 200g dark cooking chocolate into the cream and stir until it is completely combined.
Add the 50g unsalted butter and stir. This will give it a nice shiny gloss.
Time to cover the cake! The way I do it is by spreading a thin layer of the ganache over the cake and then putting it in the fridge for half an hour. Once it has firmed up a little, you can then cover the cake with the remaining ganache. This technique helps me to have a smoother, more glossy finish.
And decorate however you like! I cut a spiral shape out of baking paper and sifted icing sugar over the cake for the effect above.
You can leave the cake out of the fridge overnight if you want to maintain that glossy chocolate appearance. Otherwise it is fine to keep in the fridge also. Enjoy!