Introduction: Saint Mark Cake (12th Century Recipe)
Saint Mark cake is one of the most popular traditional cakes from Spain. It was first made in the 12th century in the convent of Saint Mark in León (Spain). The convent was founded by the queen Sancha to host pilgrims of the Way of Saint James on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The cake was traditionally made for Saint Mark's day (April 25th), but as the centuries passed by it became a cake for any other occasion.
The recipe is a little labourious, having to prepare four components, but the final taste is unforgettable.
Step 1: Ingredients
160g Self raising flour
4 Large eggs
40g (3 tbsp) Butter
TOASTED YOLK TOPPING
4 Egg yolks
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract (not really needed; be careful when adding extracts because you can accidentally put too much)
600g Whipping cream
2 tbsp Cocoa powder
Step 2: Sponge Cake (classic Genoise Sponge Cake)
The base for the cake will be a classic Genoese sponge cake. It's the easiest and most effective recipe for a sponge cake that I know. I like it because it always rises a lot, has a very spongey texture and does not have a strong taste, so it's good for soaking and adding other flavours on its surface.
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
- Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until you get a smooth mix.
- Melt the butter and add it to the mix.
- Add the self-raising flour and mix.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and add them to the other ingredients making gentle circular moves (we want to keep the foamy texture of the whites).
- Put the mix in a mold (20cm / 8 inches) for about 30 minutes at 180ºC (355ºF).
- Take it out of the oven and once it has cooled down cut it into 3 layers.
Step 3: Soaking Syrup
- Put the sugar, water nd liquor in a pot and bring the mix to boil.
- Once all the sugar has dissolved, turn off the stove and let it cool.
Step 4: Toasted Yolk Topping
- Bring to boil the water and sugar in a pot. Cook it for about 5 minutes.
- Remove to pot form the stove and let it cool down a bit.
- Beat the egg yolks along with the cornstarch.
- Incorporate the yolks to the pot and stir rapidly so that they don't get cooked before you have mixed them in.
- Cook this mix at very low temperature until it thickens, stirring often so that the bottom does not get burnt.
- Let it cool down to room temperature.
Step 5: Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling
- Whip the cream and add the sugar at the end.
- Divide the whipped cream into two bowls: 2/3 for one layer of the filling and the coating; 1/3 for the chocolate layer of the filling.
- Add the powdered cocoa to the 1/3 of the whipped cream.
- Keep both bowls in the fridge until you assemble the cake.
Step 6: Assembling the Cake
In order to get a perfect flat top, I flip the sponge cake upside down to change the order of the layers. Like this, the uneven top surface is now touching the dish and the flat bottom surface of the sponge cake is the one on top.
I like to put the sides of the springform mould I baked the cake in around the cake while assembling it. Like this the layers will remain aligned and no cream will fall down the sides, but the main reason why I do it is because you can gently push the cake layer to distribute and level the cream beneath it, making sure that it has the same thickness and has no air gaps.
- Put the first layer of the sponge cake on the dish and soak it with the syrup.
- Put all the chocolate cream on top.
- Put the middle layer of the sponge cake. Push it downwards to level the previous cream layer. Soak it with the syrup.
- Put half of the white cream on top.
- Put the last layer of sponge cake. Push it downwards to level the previous cream layer. Soak it with the syrup.
- Cover the top with the toasted yolk.
- Remove the mould and cover the sides with the rest of the whipped cream. You can also put sliced or chopped almonds on the sides to add a crunchy texture to the cake.
- Dust some caster sugar on top. If you want, you can also toast this sugar with a kitchen blowtorch or spray a little vodka on top and flambe it.
Step 7: Enjoy
I know that it may seem like a lot of work for such a simple cake, but once you try it you will love it.
I give you a 100% guarantee that your favourite part will be the yolk topping!
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