With Spring approaching in a few more weeks, I am so excited for the new change of season. So excited, I just had to make an incredibly floral edible arrangement. This is a Blossoming Birch Swiss Roll Cake. It is a vanilla sponge cake, filled with apple pie compote center, a cinnamon brown sugar spread, a tart cream cheese whipped cream; and styled like a birch log using italian buttercream frosting with piped Chrysanthemum flowers and leaves accents.
This delightful sweet dessert will have you look forward for the sweet, floral breeze coming your way.
Step 2: Ingredients for the Sponge
3 whole eggs, yolks and whites separated
6 tablespoons of white granulated sugar, divided in half
3 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
*Ignore the birthday cake extract, I later found my Vanilla extract bottle rolled to the back of my pantry lol.
In a large mixing bowl, combined three egg yolks and half of the white granulated sugar and whisk till it reaches a pale lemony yellow mixture.
Once the mixture reaches a pale, lemony yellow consistency, pour in your milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Then add in your cornstarch and flour, mix until the batter is thick. Set aside.
Step 4: The Meringue
In another large bowl or a stand mixer, start whisking your egg white until it reaches a foamy consistency. Gradually and slowly add in your white granulated sugar. Whisk your egg white for approximately 10 minutes on high speed until it reaches stiff peaks.
Step 5: Folding
Add in your meringue mixture in three batches. The first fold, fold in your meringue and mix the batter until it is homogeneous. It is okay if you deflate some air out, the first fold is simple to lighten the yolk mixture. Then add in your second fold, be careful not to knock too push air this time. And lastly your last fold. The batter should be light and airy.
Step 6: Preheat Oven & Spread Batter
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lined a 9 by 13 rectangular pan (or jelly pan) with parchment paper. Then pour in your batter gently and spread it out evenly with an offset spatula or a butter knife.
Step 7: Bake
Bake your sponge at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes flat.
Once baked, bang your pan on the counter top to prevent your sponge from shrinking excessively. Let it cool for 5 minutes on the counter. Then turn it over a new parchment paper. Peel and discard the old parchment paper as not removing quickly enough will make it impossible to peel and quite possibly tearing big pieces of cake later on.
Step 8: PreRoll
While still warm, start rolling the sponge with the help of the parchment paper sandwiched in between the sponge. You could also use a kitchen towel or a clean cloth to help you roll easier but it's not compulsory. Roll tightly and tuck the edges of your parchment and/or kitchen cloth to keep it moist.
Make ahead tip!:
It's completely possible to make the sponge a day before. Wrap your sponge roll (yes with the parchment and kitchen cloth together still) with saran wrap. This way, it keeps the cake moist even on the counter without drying out.
Step 9: Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Spread
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon powder
In a small sauce pot, melt your butter on medium to low heat. Once melted, add in your brown sugar and stir until it dissolves completely. Turn off the heat and add in your ground cinnamon and mix. Let it cool on a cool window or over the counter until the butter hardens up into a pasty, spreadable consistency.
Step 10: Apple Pie Compote
2 apples ( i used Gala), peeled and diced
1/2 cup of white granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
A pinch of ground nutmeg (or freshly grated)
Pour your peeled and diced apple into a sauce pot together with your sugar and salt. Cook on medium heat until apples are super soft and tender. Add in your nutmeg and continue to cook until the juices have evaporated.
Once the juices are evaporated, you are left with a tender apple compote with little sugar syrup. Tilt your pot just a little to drain and discard any sugar syrup away. Set aside.
Step 12: Cream Cheese Whipped Cream
4 oz of cream cheese, (soften to room temperature, very important!*)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoon of white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
In a large bowl using a whisk or handheld mixture or stand mixer, start whipping your heavy whipping cream until it reaches a soft peak consistency. Then add in your extremely soft cream cheese and slowly add into your whipped cream while whisking on low. Once all the cream cheese is incorporated, increase your speed to high and whip it up until it reaches stiff peaks.
Step 13: Getting Ready to Fill
Ready all of your filling on your work station.
Using a serrated knife, trim one edge of the sponge (where the roll ends) in a 45 degree angle. This will allow the swiss roll end to tuck and sit nicely and not have a bumpy seam.
Step 14: Spread in Your Fillings
Spread a layer of cinnamon brown sugar spread on top of the sponge. Then followed by the cream cheese whipped cream.
As your spread your fillings, put more where the roll starts and gradually decrease the amount nearer to the middle/end. This way you won't have excessive oozing out when you are rolling later.
Add your apple compote at the start of the roll. Then firmly tuck your sponge and begin rolling.
Wrap your swiss roll with saran wrap to prevent it from drying out and chill in the refrigerator to set for at least 20 minutes.
Step 17: To Make the Italian Meringue Buttercream
I love Italian Meringue Buttercream. It is insanely glossy and incredible easy to work with because it spreads so smoothly over a cake. Most importantly, it doesn't cause the buttercream to harden and crust (such as American buttercream for example..) that might potentially clogged the piping tip while piping,which can be so frustrating!
6 eggs, whites only
3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1/2 cup of water
3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
In a small sauce pot, add in your sugar and water. Cook on a stove top at medium heat. Do NOT stir the sugar mixture. Just let it sit and start to boil on its own. Let it boil until it reaches a soft ball stage or 240 degrees Fahrenheit. While you are waiting for it to reach the soft boil stage (which will take about 15 minutes approximately), start whisking your egg whites on low to reach a foam consistency.
Once you reached the soft ball stage, remove the hot sugar syrup from the stove. DO NOT TOUCH it with your fingers whatever you do. Then increase your mixer to high and with a slow steady stream, pour your hot sugar syrup really slowly into your egg whites.
Once you've poured all the sugar mixture, continue to whisk on high for the next 15-20 minutes or until your bowl is room temperature or cool to touch. THIS IS IMPORTANT, because if you put in your butter when your bowl is still warm, your butter is going to melt and turn it into a soupy mess. (Which fyi is fixable but a whole different story altogether). So to be safe, let it run till your bowl is cool, just trust me.
Once your bowl is cooled, gradually add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time and continue whisking on high. Your buttercream will deflate a little and that's okay! Finish all of your butter. Your buttercream will start from looking like a deflated soup at first, then it starts to separate, them clumpy, then eventually after 10 minutes or so, the clumps starts to stick together and become one beautiful airy mixture. Tada! Add in your vanilla last.
Step 19: Frost Your Cake
Pull your cake from the refrigerator and let it sit out on the counter for at least 15 minutes. If your cake is extremely cold, the buttercream will start hardening as soon as your start to 'try' to spread it out. So when your warm up just a bit, it will make spreading a breeze.
Smooth your buttercream on all sides, it doesn't have to be perfect, it is a tree log after all with textures.
Step 20: We've Reached the Fun Bit: Flowers!
The tools you'll need:
Food coloring of your choice
Piping bag Couplers
WILTON 81 (for the Crysanthemums)
WILTON 352 (for the leaf accents)
Parchment paper, cut into 3 inch squares
Kitchen towel, for clean up and wiping of tips
Maker's Note: I know the picture placed here has multiple piping tips. But fret not! I decided to stick to WILTON 81 tip to make it less complicated. Let's stick to one flower at a time for beginners out there :D Wilton 81 is a small, moon shaped tip, perfect for 3D Chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemums are incredibly easy yet it looks so stunning and professional.
After dying your buttercream with your desired color (i used Rose for this lovely shade of Pink), placed small smidge of buttercream on your flower nail to stick your parchment squares.
Then piped a small mount of buttercream. Using vertical hand motion, piped small petal upwards. This will create the center petals. Then continue to piped upward until it is slightly bigger.
Then piped some petals around the center, like as if your are piping sun rays.
Followed by piping some petals in between the base to fill out any spaces. The beauty of chrysanthemums is that even any irregularity will still look completely natural.
Freeze your buttercream once piped to prevent any petals potentially drooping from the warmth of your kitchen or hot drafts.
Repeat the steps with any colored buttercream of your choice. Just remember to wash your tip before introducing a new color to prevent any color muddling into a dirty shade. Also, wash or use a new piping bag bag every single time to decide to do a new color.
Maker's note: Have fun and explore different shades of flowers and vary your sizes to make your flowers look natural.
Step 23: Paint Your Tree
Using a brown gel food coloring and a few drops of water, start painting your cake to make it look like a birch log. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect, it's a tree. Refrigerate for 10 minutes once completed to harden up the buttercream again.
Once chilled, prep for the finishing touches.
Place the remaining buttercream into a piping bag to act as 'glue' to attached your flowers onto the cake itself. And have a piping bag with WILTON 352 Leaf Tip ready to use.
Before attaching your frozen flowers, put a small dollop of buttercream. The with the gentlest of hands, peel the frozen hard flowers away from their parchment paper. And lightly press them on top of the buttercream mounts. Try not to break any petals while you're attaching them.
Compose your flowers according to your taste. I personally like to alternate colors to each area, so it has different shades and sizes of flowers.
After placing some/or all of your flowers, piped some leaf accents around the flowers or under some of the petals. I decide to use a very leafy shade of green mixed with a little Egg Yellow and Brown to give the leaf a warm Avocado shade.
Refrigerate immediately once completed.
And here you go! The cake is complete! I love how contrasting the rose, egg shell white and light green Chrysanthemums compliments each other very well. It has reminiscence of Chinese New Year which was just a few weeks a go and greeting Spring which is just around the corner ( a month away actually).
Maker's Note: Because this cake is rich in butter based ingredients, I encourage you to let it thaw out on the counter for 15 minutes or so, depending on the temperature of your home, before serving this. If cut too soon, the flowers and bark will just crack and the cinnamon spread will still be too hard. But a gentle reminder, because it has cream cheese and whipped cream as fillings (non shelf stable ingredients), make sure to place it back in the fridge before heading to bed.
Step 27: Enjoy!
Grand Prize in the
Sweet Treats Challenge