An unusual and simple cake, with the bonus of being gluten-free!
As I was perusing one of my several vintage baking books, I came across this recipe – not in any specific allergy-related book or even chapter of a book. No, it was just included with a bunch of other recipes in a book aimed at the commercial baker, dating from the early 20th century. I have scaled the recipe down from the originally huge quantities, but otherwise, it is unchanged.
This cake is made using potato flour. IMPORTANT: Potato flour is made from RAW potatoes and is a bright white and very fine powder, with no discernible taste. It is NOT dehydrated cooked potato, which is coarse, yellowish and tastes of potato. That makes mashed potatoes when reconstituted and will add a similar texture to your cake. Readers in the US: use potato starch flour.
At first, I thought the cake got its name from it colour, because, as you can see from the photo, it is indeed a very pale cake. However, after tasting the cake, I’m now of the opinion that its name comes from its texture. It has the same quality of settled snow, in that there is a thin ‘crust’ on the top and soft, friable, almost powder-like substance underneath. The cake dissolves in the mouth – but in a different way to, say, Melting Moments. It’s incredibly light and tender and is best enjoyed simply, where it can really shine.
That said, the cream that I have teamed with it is pretty awesome itself. It is a variation of the filling I used for the mille-feuilles in the final of The Great British Bake Off. The mixture of sweetened cream cheese and whipped double cream is given a firmer set by the addition of gelatine, which helps to hold in the moisture and makes for a very luscious, rich, creamy and mousse-like texture. Just to continue the frozen theme, it’s like the very best soft-serve ice-cream, without the cold.
I’ve brightened the filling with some Apricot Jam, but any other sharp jam would also work well.
I bought the potato flour at Holland & Barrett.
112g unsalted butter – softened
112g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
2 level tsp baking powder
225g potato flour
- Preheat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
- Grease and line the base of a 20cm diameter, tall cake tin – not a sandwich tin. The high sides will help shield the cake from the direct heat of the oven and keep it from becoming over-coloured.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – 5-10 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time.
- Add the remaining ingredients and beat thoroughly – a good 5-10 minutes. Ordinarily, you’d run the risk of over-beating a cake mixture, which would develop the gluten in the flour, leading to a tough cake. Since the potato flour has no gluten, there’s no need to worry about this. You want to try and get as much air into the mixture as possible to make for a light texture in the cooked cake.
- Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the tin 180 degrees and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, for a total of 30-35 minutes. When you turn the cake after 20 minutes, slip a sheet of baking parchment over the top of the tin to keep the colour from getting too dark.
- When cooked, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Luscious Cream Filling
50ml double cream
50g caster sugar
2 leaves gelatine
1tsp vanilla extract
150g cream cheese, room temperature
250ml double cream
- Soak the leaves of gelatine in cold water for 15 minutes.
- Warm the double cream and caster sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- Shake off the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan.
- Stir until the gelatine has melted, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Once the mixture has cooled a little, pour it into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
- Whip the mixture until the cream has thickened and it is soft and pillowy.
Even though this is a light sponge cake, the weight of the top half will be too heavy initially, to avoid squidging (technical term) the cream out of the sides of the cake. Therefore, I strongly recommend using the following method to assemble your cake.
200g apricot jam – warmed and pureed
- Using cocktail sticks, mark the midpoint of the cooled cake around the edge and cut it horizontally.
- Spread the cut side of each cake half with apricot jam.
- Put the bottom half of the cake back into the tin in which it was baked.
- Slip a band of parchment or food-grade acetate around the inside of the tin, between the cake and the inside of the tin.
- Smooth or pipe the cream filling over the bottom of the cake, making sure it reaches the edges of the cake.
- Place the other half on top and press gently.
- Cover with cling-film and chill for 2-3 hours, until the gelatine in the cream has set.
- Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
- Remove the cake from the tin and gently peel the parchment/acetate from around the filling.
- Smooth with a knife if necessary.
- Dust with icing sugar to serve.