Introduction: Basics - the Basic Russian White Biskvit
This instructable is about the basics of making Russian Biskvit or white cake. Once you have the basic white cake, there are endless variations you can make on it with icings and toppings. The cake itself is delicate and requires tender love and care in making it. Folding, not mixer mixing, is the primary mixing method. Except for beating of the egg whites and making the icing, you do not want to use a mechanical mixer in this process.
Step 1: The Ingredients
Ingredients are very simple and few:
5 eggs separated into whites and yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup white flour
1 cup of moistening agent such as sugar water, sweet tea, fruit juice, etc.
The ingredients list gets trickier when you start to decide what kind of icing or topping you want. But that is for another time. Meanwhile, we just want the basic cake. Some things to think about when you want to finish the cake: Walnuts, peach slices, apricot slices, strawberries, blueberries, etc. As for icing, it can be anything. My wife's favorite was butter and condensed milk as in:
3 quarters of butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Step 2: Separate Yolks and Whites; Work With the Whites First
We'll work with the egg white first. Add the egg whites to a mixer (an egg beater works fine as well) and beat until the whites mixture is bubbly. Then add 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. The peaks should not be soft enough to fall down, they should just hang in place. Set the mixture aside. And, set the mixer itself aside, we won't need it until the icing part.
Next let's work with the egg yolks. Put the mixer aside
Step 3: Egg Yolks
We should still have one small mixing bowl with 5 egg yolks in it. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Stir thoroughly until the yolks and vanilla are well-mixed.
Step 4: Fold the Egg Yolks Into the Egg Whites
Now fold the egg yolks into the egg white mixture prepared earlier. This is a delicate step, fold gently until the consistency is uniform.
Step 5: Prepare the Cake Pan
The cake pan can be any shape or size large enough to contain the cake mixture. The secret is to ensure that after baking, the cake can be removed easily from the cake pan. A flour and vegetable oil mixture does this job nicely. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of flour. This should be enough to coat any combination of cake pans that you may be using. Mix the oil and flour thoroughly. Pour the oil and flour mixture into the cake pan(s) and using a pastry brush, be sure to coat every square millimeter of the inside of the cake pan(s). Dump the pans upside down so that any excess oil and flour mixture can drain off. Let the pan(s) drain until ready for use.
Step 6: Add the Flour and Fold Together With the Egg Mixture
The egg yolk and whites mixture has been resting for a few minutes now. It is time to add the flour. Using the same gentle, folding technique add sifted flour to the egg mixture. Fold it until there are no noticeable lumps.
Step 7: Bake the Cake
The pans are now coated and drained of excess coating. You can add the cake mixture to the pans and bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
After exactly 30 minutes, the cakes should be a very light brown color.
If you coated your pans with the flour and oil mixture, you can simply turn the pan(s) upside down and tap them a little bit, and the cake should fall right out. You should not need to touch the cake with any scraper or anything; they should just pop out.
Step 8: Slice the Cake and Moisten It
Some people actually bake two half-cakes without needing to cut the cake horizontally. I have chosen to use a big bread knife and slice the cake horizontally into two pieces, laying the cut parts upward.
Moistening the cake is an essential part of the process. This cake is very dry, and pretty much requires some kind of moistening to make it easy to eat. You have a lot of choices of moistening agent here. It can be as simple as sugar in water (say, 1 tablespoon in a cup of water), or fruit juice from a can, or a little sweet tea.
Whatever you use, apply it judiciously. You do not want to soak the cake, or it will fall apart. Just use a teaspoon and spread a little juice everywhere on each slice. This is sufficient to moisten the cake.
Step 9: Icing
This is getting beyond the basics, but the instructable would not be complete without some idea of how to finish the cake off. So, I'm giving a suggestion as to how to do that.
As I mentioned earlier, my wife likes butter and condensed milk the best. All you do with that is make sure the butter is room temperature and you mix the 3 sticks of butter with 1 can of condensed milk. You want it to be smooth and not lumpy. If it is lumpy because the butter is too hard, just place the mixing bowl over another bowl with very hot water, and stir until the icing is smooth.
The icing I'm about to show you is a little variation on the one shown in the picture. It uses whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla pudding, and orange peel zest. Very simply, put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat it until it is smooth.
When the icing is ready, put a layer of icing on each face of the cake. You are now ready for the "middle" topping.
Step 10: The Middle Topping
This is a very, very rich cake. It has topping in the middle as well as on top. In this example, I am using sliced peaches from a can. The slices are a little too thick to use easily, so I use a ceramic knife to cut them in half lengthwise.
Then place the slices in any design you choose. After one of the cake faces is covered with the fruit, you carefully place the other face down on top of the face with the fruit.
That takes care of the middle topping.
Step 11: Finishing the Cake
Now simply take the remaining icing and cover the whole cake with it.
After this final icing, I have "plastered" the icing with crushed walnuts to really make it delicious. This step is optional, but adds more finesse to the cake.
Take the remaining fruit slices and put them on top of the icing (and crushed walnuts).
That's it. You're done. Time to eat.
You'll see a picture of other toppings that I used in the past. One has strawberries, and the other has apricots. The possibilities are endless...
Step 12: Credits
I need to give credit to my friend, Lyubov and especially to her mom for providing the recipe and the guidance for techniques used in making this cake. Lyubov spent a whole Saturday afternoon and evening teaching my wife and me how to do all of these things.