Monday, 13 November 2006
What to do if you feel the urge to have something sweet while actually being on a diet? What to do if you are not strong enough to resist – no matter how strong your resolutions were – when everybody around you is enjoying a sinful treat? This dilemma can only be topped by having invited guests for afternoon tea. After telling them for ages that you will eventually get serious with you dietary ambitions, you cannot eat the tiniest butter cream slice in public without feeling guilty. But apart from that, there is still the responsibility to come up with something delicious. First, you want to make your friends happy. Second, you have a reputation to lose.
There is only one way of earning compliments for a delicious treat without loading too much on your daily calorie account: The Peach Torte. This fluffy chocolate sponge with a creamy, yoghurt-based filling and peach slices on top looks and tastes as good as a representative of the heavy weight class. But the sponge base is made without additional fat, and the filling contains roughly one kilogram of yoghurt and only about 150 ml whipping cream – it is even possible to decrease the amount of cream to your liking. And the fruit on top turns it into a healthy thing anyway.
After explaining this dilemma far too long, let's get started. It is best to make the sponge base one day ahead. But if you feel a sudden cake craving and you want to devour it as soon as possible, let the sponge rest for two hours before assembling the cake and it’ll be all right.
The pastry base
Heat up the oven to 175-180 degrees, without using the fan.
Prepare a round baking tin, 26 centimetres in diameter (a baking tray is also possible). Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper into the shape of the tin base, spread soft butter generously on the tin base, making sure not to grease the side walls of your tin. The sensitive batter will slip down a greased wall and will not rise properly. Put the greaseproof paper on the base and then turn it upside-down, so you end up with the buttered side on top. If your baking tin is really non-stick, forget the paper.
Mix the flour with the corn starch, the baking powder, the cocoa powder, the instant coffee and set aside.
Stir the eggs (no need to separate the yolks from the egg whites) for about one minute until slightly bubbly, and then add sugar and vanilla sugar. Beat until thick, pale, and creamy – for at least five minutes.
Sift the dry ingredients on top of the egg-and-sugar foam and make sure that the firm instant coffee grains get minced. Gently fold in the flour mixture, using a wire whisk. Do not overwork but make sure there are no lumps left.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and pop it immediately into the preheated oven. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Don't open the oven during the first 20 minutes, otherwise the sponge could collapse. Palm the centre of the pastry to test it: It's ready when the top feels only slightly soft with a little drawback. Turn off the oven and open the door leaving the pastry inside for another ten minutes. Cooling it down too abruptly could also result in the cake collapsing.
Here, you can experiment as you wish and adjust the amount of yoghurt, cream, and sugar to your liking. Only one thing is crucial: orange sugar – it gives the filling its unique flavour. Although citron-flavoured sugar is widely used, this peculiar variation is pretty uncommon. If you’re not able to find it in your supermarket, just try to make it yourself: Wash an organic grown orange with hot water, dry properly and grate the orange zest (make sure not to take anything of the bitter white skin underneath). Put the zest into a tight-closed jar, fill up with caster sugar, mix well, and let it stand for several days. The flavour of the home-made mixture is more subtle than the store-bought one. To substitute a sachet of orange sugar, use at least two tablespoons of your own version. This sugar will give any dairy-based mixture an elegant and unexpected twist. It is unusual enough not to be guessed right away but light enough for not to overwhelm other flavours. This orange-flavoured cream-mix works very well with peaches, but also with strawberries and raspberries.
Mix 1.2 kilograms of yoghurt with sugar and orange sugar, to your liking. When using store-bought orange sugar, one sachet will be enough. When using your own, add 1-2 tablespoons, mix well, then add more according to your taste.
Dissolve the gelatine according to the instructions on the package. For this amount of yoghurt, I used 7 teaspoons of powdered gelatine. When using gelatine sheets, 12 sheets should be enough.
First mix a few tablespoons of yoghurt with the liquid gelatine, and then fold the gelatine-mixture into the yoghurt. This will slowly cool down the warm gelatine and prevent it from getting stiff and forming small hard bits as it does when touching the cold yoghurt all of a sudden.
Pop the mixture into the fridge until it sets (usually after half an hour). If your yoghurt turns very stiff quickly, just stir in the pouring cream. If your mixture is set, but not very firm, whip the cream and fold in carefully.
If you choose not to diet, you’ll be able to increase the cream from 150 ml up to 500 ml. In this case you should make sure that your yoghurt mixture is pretty firm and whip your cream before folding in – otherwise the whole mixture will get too soft and fall apart when you’re slicing the cake.
The next day – or two hours later – you can start to assemble the torte. If you used a round baking tin, cut the pastry lengthwise into half. To get a smooth surface, score just along the edge of the cake roughly one centimetre deep, then put a normal sewing thread into the chink and pull both ends across, until the cake is cut through. (If you used a baking tray, this flatter cake base can’t be cut lengthwise.)
Spread half of the filling on the base using the brim of the spring form to keep the filling in place. Top with cake layer and spread with the remaining filling. Arrange slices of canned peach on top and chill. Carefully remove the brim when the filling is firm.
If the Peach Torte is not to be eaten the same day, a transparent gelatine glaze will protect the fruit from drying out.
And now, dig in and enjoy your guilt-free creamy Peach Torte!
4 whole large eggs
180 g caster sugar
1 sachet or a heaped tablespoon of vanilla flavoured sugar
75 g all-purpose flour
75 g corn starch
2 teaspoons of baking powder
30 g cacao
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1.2 kg low-fat yoghurt
150 ml whipping cream
1 sachet or 2 heaped tablespoons of orange flavoured sugar
100 g of caster sugar (to your liking)
7 teaspoons powdered gelatine or 12 sheets of gelatine
A few tablespoons of hot water to dissolve the gelatine
1 big can of peach slices (or as much as you like)
Gelatine glaze (optional)
This chocolate sponge recipe was torn out of a magazine by my mother, some twenty years ago. Since then, this easy and quick recipe is used for a wide range of tarts. The filling is my own creation.
For a delicious Strawberry Torte, just omit the cacao and the instant coffee in the sponge recipe and you’ll get a slightly vanilla flavoured sponge which makes – combined with the orange flavoured filling and fresh strawberries on top – a light and refreshing summer tart.