The Polish Princess

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    12 to 14

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 20 to 30 minutes

This extraordinary cake is named for Ava Wilder-Zhan, the incomparable production editor of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Its original name in Polish was The Ambassador, and it is a contemporary, not a traditional cake. The cake came into popularity in the early 1990s, after the fall of communism when there was an influx of quality chocolate, alkalized cocoa, and raisins from abroad. When Ava described it to me and offered to help me re-create it, I was sufficiently intrigued to give it a try. As she described it, the cake has one simple baked layer, a sponge cake. It is then topped with two layers of vanilla pudding, one enhanced with cocoa and walnuts, and the other studded with chopped chocolate and raisins. After finally perfecting the cake, I made it as a wedding present for Ava and her husband, Luke.

Plan Ahead The cake component can be made 1 day before assembling with the pastry buttercreams. Assemble the cake at least 8 hours before serving.

Ingredients

Batter

VOLUME WEIGHT
bleached all-purpose flour cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) plus 1 tablespoon 5.3 ounces 150 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon . 4.4 grams
4 (to 6) large eggs, separated
yolks ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons (69 ml) 2.6 ounces 74 grams
whites (about 3) 6 tablespoons (89 ml) 3.2 ounces 90 grams
superfine sugar ¾ cup 5.3 ounces 150 grams
warm water 3 tablespoons (44 ml) 1.6 ounces 44 grams

Chocolate and Raisin Pastry Buttercream Layer

VOLUME WEIGHT
raisins ½ cup 2.5 ounces 72 grams
bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70% cacao, coarsely chopped . 2 ounces 56 grams
Pastry Buttercream Base cups 18.7 ounces 530 grams
Décor: bittersweet chocolate for grating, 60% to 63% cacao a small thick block 1 ounce 28 grams

Special Equipment

One 9 by 3 inch springform pan, encircled with a cake strip, coated with baking spray with flour, then topped with a parchment round (see Notes)

Method

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Raise the speed to medium-high. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is very glossy and stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.

Make the Batter

Continuing on medium-high speed, add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating for about 20 seconds between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture, and with a slotted skimmer or silicone spatula, fold gently until all traces of flour have disappeared. With a silicone spatula, reach to the bottom of the bowl to be sure to moisten all of the flour. Gently fold in the water until incorporated. This will deflate the batter slightly.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the surface evenly. The pan will be only about one-third full.

Bake the Cake

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 193°F/90°C.) The cake should not start to come away from the sides of the pan. The cake’s sides will have risen to a little more than halfway up the sides of the pan.

Cool and Unmold the Cake

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and remove the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely. Invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray and remove the bottom of the pan and parchment.

Make the Tea Vodka Syrup

See recipe.

Syrup the Cake

Poke the cake all over with a thin skewer. Brush one-third of the syrup onto the bottom of the cake. Set the bottom of the springform pan on top of the cake and reinvert the cake (see Notes). Poke the cake’s top all over with the skewer. Brush the top of the cake evenly with the remaining syrup. Attach the sides of the springform pan to the bottom. If composing the cake the next day, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap.

Make the Pastry Buttercream Base for the Two Buttercream Layers

See recipe.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Unmold the Cake

Use a small torch or a dish towel run under hot water and wrung dry of excess water to heat the sides of the pan. Release the sides of the pan. Place a heated straight-edge knife flush with the buttercream and the cake. Circle the knife around the cake to create a smooth and glossy finish on the sides of the buttercreams.

Let the cake sit for about 20 minutes to soften before serving. To cut cleanly through the cake, run the knife blade under hot water and wipe it off between each slice.

Add the Pastry Cream to the Butter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the butter on medium speed until light and creamy.

Add the cooled pastry cream to the butter, a large spoonful at a time, beating at medium-high speed for several seconds after each addition until smoothly incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Remove cups/18.7 ounces/530 grams of the pastry buttercream base to a medium bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap until ready to complete the pastry buttercreams.

Toast the Walnuts

Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Turn them out onto a clean dish towel. With a small sharp knife and your fingers, scrape off and discard as much skin as possible. Cool completely.

Cut each walnut into thin slices.

Complete the Cocoa and Walnut Pastry Buttercream

Set the mixer bowl containing the pastry buttercream in the stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater. Add the cocoa and beat on low speed until smoothly incorporated. With a silicone spatula, fold in the walnuts.

Soften the Raisins

In a small bowl, place the raisins and add hot water just to cover. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain the raisins and dry them well on paper towels.

Complete the Chocolate and Raisin Buttercream

With a silicone spatula, fold the coarsely chopped chocolate and the raisins into the pastry buttercream base. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Compose the Cake

Scrape the cocoa and walnut buttercream onto the cake in the springform pan and, with a small offset spatula, spread it evenly, taking care not to get any of the buttercream on the sides of the pan above the layer of the buttercream. Cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm. Then spread the chocolate and raisin buttercream layer evenly on top.

Set the pan on a sheet of parchment to catch any falling grated chocolate. Using a coarse shredder, grate the chocolate on top of the cake to cover the buttercream completely. Lift the pan from the parchment and use the parchment to transfer any of the fallen grated chocolate onto the cake. Cover the cake with a large bowl or cake carrier dome. To meld the flavors of the components, chill the composed cake overnight in the refrigerator.

Store

Airtight: refrigerated, 3 days. Do not freeze, because the texture of the buttercreams will become less smooth.

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