FEATURE: Cooking With Anime - Butter Cake from "WorldEnd"
What do you do when you have an insatiable desire for cake? Are you busy? Will you bake it?
Any anime with three questions in the title is sure to be a winner of some sort. WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? fulfils this promise in spades. It's not exactly unique, really, but it's cute, has some (sorta skewed romance), and some trippy-weird mind trickery going on.
Honestly, this show is kinda sad and messed up. In a world where there is only one human left alive, other species have taken over and are embroiled in a battle with mysterious creatures that are hinted to be the result of the humans' chaotic lifestyles. Special warriors (Faeries) are raised to battle these creatures, and are the only ones who can wield the weapons that can kill the creatures. Without exception (I wonder why...is this a genetic thing?) all the faeries are girls, typically very young, because the don't really tend to live long enough to have a full life. Thus, the two protaganists meet- a fairy who is looking for love in a life that is too fragile, and the last human alive, who is recovering from the traumas of his past.
Chtholly, the fairy, is ordered off to a battle where she is instructed to sacrifice herself if necessary. The human, Willem, agrees to give her anything she wants if she returns back from battle alive. She asks for a butter cake, a recipe that one of her fellow Faeries used to make for her (before she also went off to die) when she was young. Willem (apparently an amateur chef) agrees. SPOILER ALERT! She returns alive, and thus, the butter cake was made.
Now, when I heard butter cake, I was thinking a heavy crumbed, super moist, decadent cake, like a pound cake. I was really excited! Do you know how often you see those kinds of cakes in anime? Almost never. I waited TWO EPISODES to find out what this cake looks like, and I should have guessed. When Chtholly says 'butter cake', what she really means is a BORING OLD SPONGE CAKE, which is basically the ONLY kind of western-style cake you find in Japan. At least, that is what the anime depicts pretty clearly. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Sponge cakes are not really my thing.
So, I decided to up the game with this cake. Sponge cakes are light, airy, and have a looser crumb. They tend to be pretty bland, in my opinion- just sweet and spongy, with very little to add more depth to the flavor. This makes them great if you want to flavor them with a liqueur, a jam, or cream, but in the anime Willem serves it up very plainly- no frosting to add moisture, and very little (that is visible) to change the flavor. In order to rectify this, I took my basic sponge recipe and swapped out the vanilla extract for almond extract, to compliment the almonds on top. I also added melted butter to the top, to add a salty hit of flavor, paired with a cinnamon sugar mixture to compliment the candied almonds on top. All in all, these simple additions really upped the flavor level and took this cake from a basic, boring sponge, to something a little more decadent and fancy.
Best of all, if you don't like almond extract, you can just switch it with vanilla for a more subtle flavor. If you don't like candied almonds, just swap them with another kind of nut. If you don't want sugar and cinnamon on top, feel free to dust with something else: perhaps some cocoa powder? Regular powdered sugar? Dehydrated berries? Or just serve with cream and fresh berries. The opportunities are endless with this recipe!
Watch the video below for more details on how to make the cake.
Ingredients for Butter Cake:
- 1 1/3 cup cake flour, sifted 3 times
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 4 tbs melted butter, divided
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tsp almond extract
- Candied almonds
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
To Make Butter Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Line a 7 or 8 inch baking round with parchment paper. Grease, and set aside.
3. Mix together 2 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Set aside.
4. Put egg whites and sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, and mixture is glossy and smooth.
5. Fold in egg yolks. Then, fold in milk, almond extract, and melted butter.
6. Sift in cake flour, and fold into batter, being careful to stop as soon as you no longer see unmixed flour.. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl!
7. Fill prepared cake pan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.
8. Remove from oven. Brush the rest of the melted butter over the top. Place candied almonds. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place back in oven for 3-4 minutes, to allow the sugar to melt very slightly, and to let the candied almonds stick to the cake top.
9. Remove from oven, and let cool completely. Serve within the day- best on the first day.