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Layered Mini-cakes "Isabella"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For many years these sponge-like minis were one of the favorite festive desserts in my family. Not pretentious, pretty easy to make, they do not require a lot of baking skills or fancy ingredients, yet every time a serving plate of "Isabella" excites a cry of joy in all the participants of a party. I still have this recipe hand-written on a piece of paper yellowed by time, recipe shared  long time ago by my then friend Lena Koppa, a fabulous Siberian home cook. The name "Isabella" came with the recipe, and I think it goes pretty well with the taste. Today I have the honor to share this recipe with you.
What you need:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
100 g (about 1 stick) butter, melted
2 Tbsp sour cream
1.5 cup flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp white vinegar /apple cider vinegar
Zest of one big orange (optional)
Confectioner's sugar (optional)

For the frosting:
100 g (about 1 stick) butter, whipped
0.5 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation time: 2.5 hours
Yields a dozen mini-cakes

Melt 1 stick  of butter in a small saucepan on low heat. Cut another stick into small pieces and set aside to soften in a mixing bowl. If you choose to add orange zest, then make it and set aside.
Prepare your baking tray: slightly butter the surface and cover it with table paper napkins - also set aside.
Set the oven at 350 F.
Beat eggs and sugar with a mixer until foamy, add melted butter gradually continuing to beat. Add salt, 1 tsp orange zest, sour cream, then flour: 1 cup first, then the rest, mix well until even. Quickly mix baking soda and vinegar and dump the foam into the batter, mix in with a spoon, do not beat.
Thick sour cream consistency.

Napkins come from the original recipe.

It's not easy to even out the layer of batter.
Pour the batter onto the napkins, spread about 3/4" thick, even out as well as you can, set in the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes until the surface is slightly browned.
Take out of the oven and flip over on kitchen towels. Immediately remove napkins: carefully tear them beginning from the middle to the sides. Let  the baked  layer cool.

Cut 3-3.5" diameter rounds with a thin glass or a cookie cutter. Slice each round in half horizontally, let them cool completely - you will have two layers per each mini-cake. Crumble the leftover pieces of the batch, put it in the cooling oven to dry (or set the oven at low temperature).
While the cake layers are cooling prepare the frosting. Beat softened butter until peaks are formed. In small portions (about 1 tsp each) mix in condensed milk, add vanilla extract halfway, then continue to mix in the milk. The frosting must be creamy and even. If you see it's flaking, put the mixing bowl over another dish with hot water in it. Slightly warm up the frosting continuing to mix until it's nice and creamy. To avoid flaking, use slightly warmed condensed milk (just place the can in a bowl with hot water).
Frosting must be a little shiny.

Spread the frosting on both inner surfaces of each sliced round and glue it back together like a sandwich. Then, thinly spread the frosting on the sides and the top (leave the bottoms for later, otherwise they will stick to the board ). Do this with all of your minis. You should have a dozen or so mini-cakes.

Remove the dried left over cake pieces from the oven and sprinkle the rest of the orange zest over them, white they are still hot. Process this mixture in a food processor until it forms a fine crumble. Spread the frosting on each cake's bottom and roll them on all sides in the crumbles, one by one. This part is rather messy, so exercise some patience - it will pay off. When cakes are already on a serving dish, slightly dust them with confectioner's sugar.

Chill before serving. This soft, light and a bit chewy cake will melt in your mouth and, I am pretty sure, become your favorite, too. :) Enjoy!


Masha S. said...

I am so jealous! It's been years since I had these.

Nadia S. said...

Next time you come, I'll make it especially for you, my dearest - PROMISE. :)

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