Letting him eat cake

People who know me knows that I like crazy projects and out-there ideas. In the kitchen this takes the form of plans for elaborate 12 course tasting menus (not realized yet, but one day. One day with a lot of time and patience), weird flavor-combos, or, as today, complicated birthday cakes.

Markus is turning 30-something today, and as is tradition in our household, that means I'm making him a birthday cake. Last year I made an elaborate Jan Hedh chocolate creation, and I didn't want to make anything less this year. When I came across this post at Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker, I knew I just had to do it. Quoting Gesine:
It’s a lot of work. It takes more time then you really want to invest. It’s messy. But it’s beautiful.
A lot of work, a lot of time, making a mess. Topped with beauty. It's a done deal!

Writing backwards to create decor sides.

I gave the cake an almond bottom, filled it with vanilla-lemon quark mousse and garnished with peaches (canned, cause it's that time of the year), raspberries and passion fruit. For the quark mousse I used a Swedish quark product called Kesella Vanilj, which is flavored with vanilla. You could use regular quark and add vanilla extract or vanilla sugar. I miscalculated the amount of mousse so I didn't get enough to fill up the sides of the cake. You probably want to double the mousse recipe, or else make shorter decor sides.

The decor sides do take time to make, but I didn't find them that difficult. I wrote "GRATTIS MARKUS" (congratulations Markus) in block letters. The Markus part turned out beautiful, but "grattis" had some floating out, I don't know why that was but I guess I wasn't careful enough when spreading the jaconde sponge batter over the frozen tuille.

Good lettering.

Bad lettering. IS is fine, but what happened to the rest?

The cake tasted heavenly, and was easy to cut into clean, nice slices. And Markus was mighty impressed - mission accomplished!

The writing's on the cake

1 batch decor sides, follow the instructions here

For the almond cake bottom:
300 g almond paste
2 eggs

Grate the almond paste. Mix well with the eggs, and spread the batter out into a buttered and breaded springform pan, about 23 cm in diameter. Bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool before removing the springform pan.

For the vanilla-citrus quark mousse
1 1/4 dl milk
1 dl granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
250 g vanilla-flavoured quark (Kesella Vanilj)
1½ dl cream
4 sheets gelatin

Bring the milk, sugar, salt and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl and mix them well with some of the warm milk mixture. Add the rest of the milk, stir well, and pour back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens. Pour it into a cold bowl and let it cool completely.
Add the quark.
Soak the gelatin sheets for five minutes in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and melt them over low heat in a small saucepan. Mix with a little of the egg-milk mixture, and stir the gelatin into the rest of the mixture.
Whip the cream into stiff peaks and fold it in.

Assembling the cake:
Get the almond bottom and attach the springform ring around it again. Get your decor sides and trim them to the correct height and length. Place them around the cake ring, writing side out of course. Pour the mousse onto (into?) the cake. Let it set in the fridge for at least two hours before decorating the cake with the fruits and berries of your choice.

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