05 August 2009

Daniel's First Birthday Cake!

The anticipation for Daniel’s first birthday started to build up on Thursday, when we baked the cakes. We decided to make a train cake and needed a rectangular cake and a Swiss roll. Years ago I had to do two years practical classes in nutrition as part of my education. I remember very well my first attempt to bake a Swiss roll. Since I had NO experience in the kitchen as a young girl, it was one big flop. From that day, now more than 20years later, I’d rather buy a Swiss roll than try to bake one! For Daniel’s train cake I was forced to bake the Swiss roll myself. One of the party friends is a diabetic and I wanted to give a part of the Swiss roll to her as her treat, since she’s not allowed to eat any icing sugar or sweets.

On Thursday morning I pulled out my university recipe book and started to read everything about a Swiss roll. The most important characteristic of a Swiss roll is that it contains no shortening or chemical raising agent, like baking soda or baking powder. The raising agent is air whipped into the eggs. The trick is to get as much air into the egg as possible and to stabilize the egg to keep the air inside, so the end product doesn’t shrink after the baking process. You also want a very delicate texture. A little cream of tartar and/or lemon juice is the secret to trap as much air into the whipped eggs as possible. You also need to use very high quality flour, but I use spelt flour, that does not contain as much gluten as wheat does. I chose a recipe to separate the egg white and egg yolk, whipped them separately (result more trapped air) and added a little baking powder.

Here we go:

Swiss roll with baking powder


160 g spelt flour or 120 g baking flour
5 ml baking powder
pinch of salt
4 eggs (separate white and yolk)
12,5 ml lemon juice
2.5 ml cream of tartar
25 ml water
160 g xylitol (200 ml) or sugar
125 ml St. Dalfour Thick Apricot jam


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a medium baking tray with ungreased baking paper or well-greased waxed paper, allowing the paper to extend over the edges.

2. Using an electric beater, beat egg whites on high, until stiff peaks form, but not dry. Gradually add 100g of xylitol (or sugar) and the cream of tartar, (dissolve in the 25ml of water) into the egg whites, until glossy peaks form. The mixture should resemble a thick stable foam and the mark from a spoon dragged through the mixture should not disappear.

3. Beat the yellow yolk until thick and pale yellow. Beat in rest of xylitol (or sugar) and lemon juice, until xylitol is dissolved.

4. Gently fold the yellow yolk into the stiff egg whites, with a metal spoon.

5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift again in layers, into the egg mixture and very gently fold the flour in with a large metal spoon until well blended.

6. Spoon batter onto baking tray evenly and smooth out to the corners with a pallet knife. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden and springy to the touch.

7. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with water, and roll to dampen all over, place onto a worktop. Turn the cake onto the tea towel, remove the tray. Carefully peel off the paper.

8. Spread the sponge lightly with apricot jam and roll immediately into a tight spiral with the aid of the tea towel, starting from the longer side. Roll up and allow to cool, while wrapped in the cloth.

9. When cold remove the towel and trim edges if necessary. Swiss Rolls are best eaten on the day they are made; as they contain no fat, they quickly become stale.

Our Swiss roll was fairly successful and I was proud of myself, as were the children.
CJ had a ball taking the pictures. He went through a tough patch, losing a friend that is emmigrating to Australia. Since all the children are around me every moment of the day, I could sense he needed some tender, loving care and I involved him in what interested him most – taking pictures and releasing him from school work for the morning.

Next we mixed our well tested chiffon cake, baked in a baking tray and the little ones had a ball licking out the mixing bowls.

During the rest of Thursday, Heidi-Mari and Josua decorated a Happy Birthday Daniel banner for the party. We got the idea here.

On Friday morning we cleaned the house and in the afternoon the decorating of the train started.

The night before, Christo and CJ laid out the construction of the train, with the different pieces of cake, but I was so tired after putting Daniel to sleep, I couldn’t give enough attention to the details. On the Friday afternoon, CJ worked at the stables and with Christo at work, I was in trouble. I started the cake, but by the time Christo and CJ arrived home, at 18h00, I was in a total panic and I knew the construction of this train was not right.

Christo immediately gave the right instructions and within 20 min, the train was ‘on track’.

But then we started with the carriages and again we had some trouble. We planned to make the carriages with chocolate wafers.

The problem with wafers is, that it dries out within an hour and then the wafer separates from the chocolate and falls apart. By 20h00 both carriages were falling apart.

Christo had to make a quick trip to the Spar to try and find another solution. I had to put Daniel to sleep and was exhausted and discouraged. It was the first time a cake just didn’t come together.

Since I was so tired and Daniel lately didn’t fall asleep so easily, I fell asleep next to him (I think even before he slept). By 21h30 I awoke, to find two perfect carriages, made of zoo cookies and a beautiful and colourful tree, made of gum sweets.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Christo, CJ and Heid-Mari had finished the cake and even cleaned up the kitchen. I just had to make the final border around the cake, fill it up with food coloured coconut and put on the birthday candle.

What a relief – the cake was finished and thanks to my dear husband and two older children, even more beautiful than I expected!


Sonja said...

Linnie dis n pragtige koek! Ek het nog nooit sulke mooi verjaarsdagkoeke gesien nie, jy het regtig n talent daarvoor!

Linnie said...

Dankie, liewe Sonja. Ek geniet dit baie om met my hande te skep. Gee my 'balans' in ma-wees! En, ek het darem baie hulp in my liewe man.

Petra said...

Baie mooi - en dit lyk jummie!

JanetK said...

Wat 'n oulikke trein koek! WOW! DIt inspireer my! Linnie, het jy geweet jy kan gluten vrye koek meel koop by DIschem? DIt bevat potatoe flour, sago flour, tapioca en nog iets. DIt proe lekker! Ek bak mealie brood daarmee!
Baie geluk met Daniel se eerste verjaarsdag!

Liefde, Janet

Linnie said...

Baie dankie vir die gelukwensing Janet!
Soos wat die aanvraag vir spesiale mele en melk groei sal dit makliker beskikbaar raak. Dit is wonderlik!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin