One of the most delectable Indian desserts is all dressed up in the form of a layer cake! Spongy cake soaked with a saffron-cardamom milk, filled and topped with a creamy homemade ricotta cream.
Rasmalai is a chilled dessert that consists of soft and fluffy paneer dumplings soaked in a thick milk syrup, flavored with cardamom and saffron. One creamy, dreamy dessert! Now, transitioning to our cake, it has three components – a spongy cake, saffron milk and ricotta cream and garnished with nuts.
The cake recipe is a tweaked one from Joyofbaking. Stephanie creates such perfect baked goods in her blog and she does an incredible job. The cake is very spongy and airy is perfect to soak up all the saffron milk. To make the cake…
— beat eggs whites until soft peaks form
—beat egg yolks and sugar until thick
—warm butter and milk until butter is melted
—sift all dry together
—fold beaten yolks into whites…fold in flour and finally fold in melted butter-milk
— bake and cool
Try to fold very gently, so we don’t lose much of the air.
The saffron milk is very similar to the traditional milk in the actual dessert. Milk is simmered with saffron, sugar and cardamom powder. This can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Finally ricotta cream, rasmalai dumplings are made with fresh panner kneaded until very soft and then cooked in a light sugar syrup until soft and fluffy. Paneer is milk curdled with vinegar and then drained to get all the whey out. Ricotta is a creamier version of that. The obvious question here is, why not store bought ricotta? I found that homemade ricotta is so much fresher, creamier and better tasting! Go ahead and take that extra step. It’s worth it! Whip fresh ricotta with heavy cream, sugar and cardamom.
Liberally brush saffron milk in the cakes, and then fill and top with ricotta cream, and garnish with chopped nuts!
Let sit in the refrigerator for few hours for all the flavors to mingle and cake soften.
-Eggs are much easier to seperate when they are cold, so seperate them when cold and leave it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. They whip up to full volume when at room temperature.
-Ricotta can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. It also helps in firming up a bit.
-Saffron milk can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator as well.
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablepoons sugar
1 healthy pinch saffron threads
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablepoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup pistachios, sliced almonds and cashews, chop finely
To make sponge cake,
Seperate cold eggs and place whites and yolks in two different bowls. Let stand at least for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 x 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray, line with parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
Place butter and milk in a small microwavable bowl, microwave until butter is just melted (don’t let it get very hot). Set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat yolks and sugar with a hand held electric beater for 4 minutes until thick and pale. Set aside. Wash and dry beaters.
Beat egg whites for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form. Switch to a rubber spatula. gently fold beaten yolks in 2 additions.
Gently fold flour mixture in 2 additions. Finally, fold all the melted milk-butter mixture.
Divide batter equally in the 2 prepared cake pans, place in oven and bake for 19-20 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes clean.
Place pans on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make saffron milk,
Combine milk, sugar and saffron threads in a small non-stick saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced to 3/4th cup.
Pour into a bowl, stir in cardamom powder and let cool to room temperature.
To make ricotta cream,
Combine milk, 1 cup cream and salt in a medium non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, take off heat and add vinegar. Let milk stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread cheesecloth on a strainer and place over a bowl. After 5 minutes, pour curdled milk into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let stand for 1-2 hours, until all whey is separated. Transfer ricotta into a covered container and store in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.
Just before finishing cake, add ricotta, remaining 1 cup cream, cardamom powder and sugar. Beat with a hand held electric beater, until soft peaks form.
To assemble cake,
Place one cake on a cake platter, liberally brush about half the saffron milk, spread 1 cup of ricotta cream on top and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts. Gently place the other cake on top, brush remaining saffron milk and spread remaining ricotta cream on top and sides. Smooth and decorate with chopped nuts.
Store cake in the refrigerator for few hours before serving and serve with any remaining saffron milk.
Makes one 8-inch cake