It's been three weeks and barely a dent has been made in my ever growing list of things I'd like to do. The library books I borrowed in February are still collecting dust. I go to bed every night meaning to do more, and every morning I wake with dreams of escape.
If you want something done sometimes you have to do it yourself, but what if this is too much? Can I alone affect even one person? My doubts keep getting in the way, along with my tendency to put off the most simple of things like asking a gorgeous woman to a dinner at her suggestion. Fuck.
These last few weeks have been whiled away digging trenches in the garden, planting heirloom King Edward spuds, nibbling on freshly picked roquette salad leaves and providing my young plants with a heavy mulching of shredded pea straw to protect them against the oncoming frost. One more day to endure before I find out how my efforts fared.
I wish I could bury myself amongst the potatoes and somehow fast forward time to tomorrow. Will I pass? Will I fail? Will I be throwing up with excitement or trying to kick myself in the head? This waiting game is excruciating, even with the consolation of a soft and buttery homemade white chocolate cake worthy of cardiac arrest.
White chocolate sponge cake
145 g white chocolate buttons (Callebaut)60 g unsalted butter6 egg yolks10 g all-purpose flour4 egg whites5 g vanilla paste1 g cream of tartar90 g castor sugar
Melt chocolate and butter over a bain marie.
Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk together egg yolks, flour and 20 g sugar.
Add melted chocolate to yolks and whisk to combine.
Whisk egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar in a large bowl until medium peaks form.
Sprinkle in a little sugar at a time, whisking until all remaining sugar has been used; firm, glossy peaks have formed and sugar granules can no longer be felt in the meringue.
Add 1/3 of the meringue to the yolks and whisk to combine.
Add remaining meringue and fold together gently with a whisk.
Pour onto a heavy baking sheet lined with baking paper.
Bake at 140ºC for 12 minutes, rotating halfway.
Cool completely on the baking tray.
Place a sheet of baking paper over the top and flip upside down.
Gently prise off the first sheet of paper and set aside.
200 g natural yoghurt
Spread yoghurt onto the shiny side of a silpat/non-stick baking mat.
Dehydrate in oven with the door slightly ajar at 50ºC for 5 hours or until crisp.
Cool to room temperature.
Break into shards and store in an airtight container.
Malted milk honeycomb
70 g liquid glucose185 g castor sugar60 g water12 g dehydrated milk powder15 g malted milk powder4 g baking soda
Heat glucose, sugar and water in a small pot to 160ºC.
Whisk together dehydrated milk, malted milk powder and baking soda in a small bowl.
Add powder to caramel and whisk until just combined.
Pour malted caramel into a large bowl lined with baking paper. (Caramel will bubble up and expand)
Set aside at room temperature for half an hour to set.
Remove paper and break apart into small chunks.
Store in an airtight container.
Custard buttercream base
300 g milk4 g vanilla paste5 egg yolks240 g castor sugar450 g unsalted butter, soft
Scald milk, vanilla and half of the sugar in a small pot.
Set aside for half an hour to infuse.
Cream egg yolks and remaining sugar.
Pour milk into the eggs a little at a time and whisk to combine.
Return to the pot and bring to a simmer to thicken, stirring continuously. (High amount of sugar will prevent egg from scrambling)
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Whisk butter in an electric mixer to aerate.
Slowly add cooled custard and continue whisking until light and creamy.
700 g custard buttercream10 g lemon zest, finely grated (approx. 3-4 large lemons)
Add lemon zest to buttercream and whisk until fully incorporated.
Caramelised white chocolate buttercream
250 g custard buttercream50 g white chocolate buttons20 g milk
Spread chocolate onto a silpat mat and bake at 150ºC for 12 minutes, mixing every 3 minutes.
Heat milk with 35 g of caramelised white chocolate and bring to a simmer. (Eat the rest of the caramelised chocolate.. yummy)
Allow to cool to below 55ºC.
Add caramelised chocolate milk to buttercream and whisk until light and creamy.
Cover white chocolate sponge with lemon buttercream.
Crush a little malted milk honeycomb with a mortar and pestle and sprinkle over the buttercream.
Roll, using the baking paper underneath to support the sponge.
Refrigerate until firm.
Cover the sponge exterior with caramelised white chocolate buttercream.
Refrigerate until firm.
Tempered white chocolate bubbles
400 g white chocolate buttons
Melt chocolate over a bain marie, stirring with a spatula.
Bring to 45ºC.
Cool to 27ºC by spreading chocolate on the bench in a thin layer to cool quickly before scraping back into the bowl.
Return to bain marie for a few seconds until it reaches 31.5ºC.
Spread tempered chocolate over a sheet of intact bubble wrap that is large enough to cover the entire sponge.
Place sponge into the middle of the bubble wrap sheet and bring the sides up.
Smooth down the bubble wrap, making sure all parts come into contact with the buttercream exterior.
Place on a tray and refrigerate until firm.
Remove bubble wrap carefully and turn upside-down for best presentation.
Serve at room temperature with shards of dehydrated yoghurt.