Some may find inspiration from travel, I’m currently finding culinary inspiration from a bedtime story (my children’s, not mine). My sons are big fans of Max and Ruby‘s Bunny Cakes, a story of Ruby, a rabbit, and her younger brother Max. Ruby wants to make a raspberry fluff cake for her grandmother but in keeping with little brothers everywhere, Max just keeps getting in the way. Eventually Max is locked out of the kitchen. Ruby finishes her raspberry fluff cake and Max, stuck in the backyard, makes one of mud and worms. Grandma is so excited, she doesn’t know “which one to eat first.” After reading it for the umpteenth time, we decided we would make the cake for the boys’ grandma. The raspberry fluff one, at least.
I hadn’t yet settled on which white cake recipe to use when I managed to get a package of duck eggs from my meat CSA. (Remember, I have a lot of cookbooks). I’d been pestering them for long enough that they could hardly forget to set aside some for me when enough materialized. Duck eggs are hard to come by since the birds don’t lay as predictably as chickens, dropping their eggs somewhat at random.
I didn’t want duck eggs so I could write some oddball novelty blog post: rather, you just might have noticed that I like baking, and duck eggs are brilliant at it. Even so, they unsettle you a bit when cracked open. Perhaps they are too close (to regular eggs) for comfort: the intensely orange yolks that tumble out of the cracked shell are larger than you’re expecting, while the whites are slow and disconcertingly viscous: separating the yolks and whites is no easy feat. Those whites, too, are as clear as water, not yellow-tinged like chicken eggs. Perhaps only appropriate for a duck’s aquatic habitat.
Darina Allen‘s The Forgotten Skills of Cooking unsurprisingly has a few uses for these eggs, and I settled on making her duck egg sponge cake (which only uses three ingredients: flour, sugar, and those eggs!) This simplified the decision on frosting–for a light, somewhat dry cake like this, I could only imagine a shortcake writ large. Raspberry whipped cream provided the perfect finish, moistening the dry crumb of the duck-egg sponge. Not too sweet, but fresh and easy eating on a warm almost-summer night.
If you can’t find duck eggs, you could of course try this cake with any sponge cake recipe. Max and Ruby would approve either way.
And so would Grandma.
Raspberry Fluff Cake
Note: Like the folks at The Kitchn, I used 8″ rather than 7″ cake pans (as prescribed by the recipe). This made for two very thin cakes so I wouldn’t suggest trying a larger size.
For the cake
- 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted, plus 2 teaspoons for dusting
- 3 duck eggs
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 12-ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries
- 1/4c sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup cold whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1T sugar (or to taste)
- 1/3 c raspberry puree
- 1 half pint raspberries for garnish (optional)
Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Butter your pan and line the base with parchment. Then butter the parchment and dust the pans with flour. (Note, I forgot the parchment and my cakes emerged unscathed, but spare yourself the gray hairs.) Allen suggests using melted butter to line the pans.
Separate the yolks from the whites. Put the whites and sugar into a bowl and whisk until stiff, preferably in an electric mixer (I used my kitchenaid). Whisk in the yolks one by one and then fold in the sifted flour, making sure not to deflate the mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans.
Bake for 20–25 minutes. Turn out carefully and let cool on a wire rack.
Make the raspberry whipped cream
Note that Joy of Baking recommends placing your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before you make the whipped cream. There’s no way I have enough room in my freezer for a 6-quart kitchenaid bowl, but I did at least manage to do this with the whisk. If you have space and remember, though, why not? Place the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Add the puree, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Taste and fold in more raspberry puree if desired. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. You’ll get about two cups of whipped cream.
Spread a little less than half of the whipped cream over the first layer of the cake. Place the second layer on top, and spread the remaining whipped cream on top. Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve. Store in the fridge.
More Darina Allen on Three Clever Sisters: