What happens when there's a BOGOF sale and I end up with a stupid amount of Pocky? Pocky cake happens, apparently.
Pocky, for the uninitiated, is a popular Japanese brand of thin, unsalted pretzel-like sticks dipped in chocolate. They come in a vast variety of flavours from regular to green tea to all kinds of fruit. Here, I've used strawberry.
So how much is a stupid amount much Pocky? About 330g of it, I reckon.
In my defence, I've been wanting to make a Pocky cake in a while, and to make one you need a lot of Pocky. In the end I only needed to use four out of the six 55g boxes I bought- but it's nice to have backups for inevitable broken-in-box Pocky sticks. Speaking of broken Pocky, I cut mine to suit the size of cake I was making.
Pocky aside, this is a strawberry and mascarpone cream cake, with a soft and fluffy strawberry ogura sponge. It's packed full of fresh strawberries in the middle, too- almost enough to make this cake healthy. (Disclaimer: it's not enough to make this cake healthy).
See? It's basically mostly strawberries. Sort of. It just happens to have a load of cream and mascarpone in it, too.
The little spherical boulders are strawberries and cream Lindor truffles. I was determined to use them since they go perfectly with the cake, but they also caused me the baker's equivalent of writer's block: I just couldn't figure out how to use them artistically. In the end, I went for a zen rock garden-type look.
I held back on adding artificial colours this time. I really, really wanted the sponge to be bright pink, but I resisted. Instead, I just let the natural colour from the strawberry purée do it's thing.
A note on the ogura sponge cake: make sure you use a light hand when combining the whisked egg whites with the B mixture: you want to keep in as much air as possible or the cake will collapse. Treat it like a soufflé.
Ingredients for Sponge (A):
-1 egg yolk + 1 whole egg
-100g strawberries, puréed
-30g Hong Kong (or plain) flour
-1tbsp vegetable oil
Ingredients for Sponge (B):
-1 egg white (so you've used two eggs altogether)
-30g caster sugar
-300ml double cream
-250g mascapone cheese
-200g strawberries, chunkily chopped
-4 x 55g packets of strawberry Pocky
-A few halved strawberries
-8 x Lindt Strawberries and Cream Lindor truffles
1) Begin by making the sponge. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and cut
some greaseproof paper to line a 7" cake tin (use a bit of oil or butter around the sides to make it stick)
2) Make a meringue by whisking all the (B) sponge ingredients until it
forms stiff peaks. Use a teaspoonful to swipe around the insides of the
cake tin, and use this little bit to stick the baking parchment lining
to the sides (you use this instead of oil as extra oil may deflate this
cake as it bakes)
4) Whisk the egg and yolks from the (A) sponge ingredients in a separate
bowl until light and foamy, and when lifting up the whisk makes a
defined trail. Now whisk in the rest of the (A) sponge ingredients
5) Gently fold in the meringue mixture into the (A) sponge mixture until just incorporated
6) Pour the cake batter into the tin and tap a few times on the counter to knock out large air bubbles. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the cake is springy and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
7) Turn out onto a wire rack, cover the cake by putting the tin upside-down over it (to stop it from drying out) and leave to cool completely
8) To make the filling, whisk the mascarpone to loosen it up a bit, and whisk in the cream, sugar and vanilla until the mixture forms soft peaks (careful not to over-whip or it'll curdle)
9) Take half of the cream mixture and fold into your chopped strawberries
10) Evenly slice your sponge lengthways so you have two layers and sandwich together with the strawberry cream
11) Smooth a layer of the remaining cream around the sides and top of your cake, saving the leftover cream to pipe on top later
12) Arrange your Pocky sticks around the sides (right-side up or upside-down, it doesn't matter which way), and pipe the remaining cream into the centre
13) Arrange your strawberries and truffles on top
14) Chill in the fridge for about an hour to let the cream set, show everyone how awesome the cake looks, slice, serve and enjoy!
Just a thought: this cake would look even more epic with a ribbon tied around it. Alas, I missed ribbon off of my ingredients list on this occasion.