Romanian recipe – Chocolate, orange and cheese sponge cake

Romanian recipe orange chocolate cake presentation

A rather light and fluffy cake, this recipe comes from one of my two hand copied notebooks. With a cocoa sponge, a layer of sweet crumbly cheese, two layers of orange gelatine and a chocolate topping, it is less sweet than it might be expected to be and also flavoursome, as I like them.

Back in Romania, I used to collect cooking and baking magazines. Of the big stash that I gathered in a few years, some recipes survived in my two hand copied notebooks. When I left the country, I could not load up my luggage with these magazines, so I chose and copied my favourites.

Last year I’ve subscribed to Sainsbury’s magazine, which always delivers a great range of lovely recipes. I love it for the variety of ingredients, cooking skills required, and novelty that it brings around. Adding these magazines on top of some cookbooks I have also bought since living in the UK, I have all the inspiration and motivation I need. I plan to share more of my cooking and baking adventures here with you, hopefully inspiring you too.

Start with 7 eggs and 7 tablespoons of flour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Romanian recipe written in my notebook… of course, in Romanian. It is very easy to measure and cook and I translate it all in English. I love the intuitive part of it, where you don’t use grams as units for the sponge, but spoons. It is the way I learnt to bake from my mum and my nan, when I was growing up – the number of tablespoons of flour was equal to the number of eggs included.

For those of you reading in Romanian, I did modify the original recipe slightly. For the orange filling, it says mix orange juice with vanilla custard and I just did not fancy that. I preferred to use gelatine and sugar, and even experimented with melting some white chocolate for it. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as it comes.

I’ll list the ingredients for you below, in English.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

– 7 eggs
– 7 tablespoons of plain white flour
– 2 tablespoons of cocoa
– 100 ml oil
– 150 g sugar

For the cheese filling:

– 200 g butter
– 200 g sugar
– 500 g sweet cow cheese*

*The actual cheese in this recipe is called “urda” in Romanian. It is a soft, sweet cow cheese, but not as watery as cottage cheese. The best English equivalent I could find is cottage cheese. I recommend draining it in a very dense sieve or cloth before using it. I haven’t done so and had to adapt on the way.
It still tastes really good though!

For the orange gelatine layers*:

– 700 ml orange juice
– 80 g vanilla custard powder
– 8 tablespoons sugar

*I modified this to:
– 400 ml orange juice
– 5 gelatine sheets
– 5 tablespoons sugar
– 100 g white cooking chocolate

For the chocolate topping:

– 300 g milk (or dark) cooking chocolate

How I adapted this recipe

The sponge

The process of making the sponge has always been one of my favourite bits when baking a cake. All of these simple chemical reactions look like kitchen magic!

As a passionate cook and content creator, I took photos in the process. You should have seen me holding my cooking spoon with one hand and manoeuvring my Pixel with the other! Yes, I could have used my tripod, but I didn’t want to be too distracted from the cooking.

I prepared the sponge using my hand-held mixer and following these steps:

  1. I separated the egg whites from the egg yolks.
  2. I mixed the sifted flour with the sifted cocoa and I added 7 g of baking soda, measured on my kitchen scales. This was an addition to the original recipe. Also, a pinch of salt.
  3. I started beating up the egg yolks with the sugar, adding two tablespoons at the time, then mixing well. This turned the yolks very fluffy, like a bubbly cream. At the end, I added the oil in four or five goes, and incorporated it slowly.
  4. I beat the egg whites separately until the resulting white fluff held stiffly unto the bowl. It didn’t budge when I carefully turned it upside down!
  5. I added the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk fluff, slowly, making sure the whole mixture stayed fluffy.
  6. I added the flour mix two spoonfuls at a time, folding it well and slowly. You don’t want to rush this stage and get the whole mixture to flop. Mine stayed very nice and spongy.
  7. I baked it for about 35 minutes, in a 20 cm cake tin, at 180 degrees, as our oven in the flat is not too hot and I knew it would be the right temperature. You need to know your oven and adapt accordingly.

    I used the toothpick test, but I knew it was baked by the way it came off the sides of the tin when I took it out of the oven.

And, voila, this is the sponge!
I let it cool down on a rack.

The cheese filling

It was the trickiest part of making this cake.
As I mentioned above, I did not drain the cottage cheese, so when I started gradually mixing it up in the fluffed butter, it kind of failed to mix well. After trying and trying, I decided to drain the whole thing through the only sieve I have, which isn’t as dense as needed for this. I lost some of the cheese in the process, but it worked!

You first fluff the butter, then add the cheese little by little together with the sugar, and when you get a smooth mixture, you put it in the fridge.
When the sponge has cooled down completely, cut it in two and add the cheese mixture on the base.

The orange gelatine

In the original Romanian recipe, you just follow the instructions of making custard, using orange juice as a base instead of milk.

However, I adapted it as I did not fancy orange custard in my cake.
I first prepared the gelatine leaves by soaking them in cold water for 5 minutes. Then I gently warmed up the orange juice, added the sugar and the gelatine leaves until they dissolved, stirring and not allowing it to boil.

I separately melted about 100 g of white chocolate and added it to the gelatine. Next, I put it in the fridge to set. It set in about two hours!
I did not wait for it to set completely as I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to spread it in a nice layer over the cake.

Once it set as much as it wouldn’t drip, I added one layer on top of the cheese filling. I covered it with the top of the sponge, then added the second layer of orange gelatine on it. The cake went back in the fridge.

The chocolate topping

The recipe says you just melt the 300 g of cooking chocolate over bain-marie, let it cool only slightly, then poor it all over the cake. That worked.
However, when you put the cake back in the fridge the chocolate hardens. True, it will soften again if you take it out. I think next time I’ll make a proper chocolate glaze, using butter and water. This will stay soft even in the fridge.

How much a good oven matters

I was very proud of baking my Romanian recipe and took a lot of photos of the cake! You can find more on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

It helps having a really good oven in the flat. When I was living in my partner’s house, his oven tends to overheat and that affects the quality of baking. It works great for roasts, but I haven’t so successfully baked there.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and if you’d like me to post more of these. I’m also going to make a vlog with the whole process, most likely.

Give it a go, have fun and enjoy the cake!

No Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.