Splitska Torta – Dried Fig and Almond Cake

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oday I’m making “Splitska Torta” – delicious dried fig and almond cake named after my hometown of Split, Croatia!

A Few Words About my Hometown of Split, Croatia

First, let me tell you a few words about the city that this cake was named after – my hometown of Split, Croatia! Now, I have a question for you! The city of Split is old, quite old in fact, so, what would you say how old is it? Two hundred years, three, four hundred years maybe, ha? What do you think? Well, whatever number came to your mind, I’m pretty sure that you were wrong, because, the city of Split, Croatia is…wait for it…seventeen hundred years old!! Yes, you heard it right, seventeen hundred,…or one thousand and seven hundred years,… or one point seven millennia old! Now is that old or is that old?

Split, Croatia
Split, Croatia
Source: Pixabay

It sure is, but hey there’s more! Not only that Split is an ancient city, but, unlike many other cities, it didn’t happen by chance, just like that, no! It was built on purpose and on demand, and when I tell you who was the person that ordered this ginormous building endeavour, your eyes will pop! It was none other than Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, also known as the Roman emperor Diocletian!! How about that?!!

Split, Croatia
Split by night
Source: Wikimedia.org

And it gets even better! You see, Diocletian was the first Roman emperor ever who decided to retire, imagine that! On May 1 305 he voluntarily abdicated the position and became a pensioner! Wow! O.K., you’ll say, that is interesting, but, why do we care? Well, I’ll tell you why! You see, the Roman emperor, the big boss, couldn’t just move to some ordinary house, or a retirement community, he was an emperor after all, so he needed a palace, right? And here comes the biggest “wow” – of all the places, all over the vast Roman empire, Diocletian decided that his retirement palace was to be built – where? Well here, where I stand today!

Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian’s Palace – Split, Croatia
Source: Wikimedia.org

That huge,lavish, magnificent palace was the nucleus, the heart of the city today known as Split, Croatia! How about that, I ask you, how about that?!! Naturally, the emperor had a huge staff, you know, servants, soldiers, craftsmen and so on, and they needed food, fish, meat, fruits and veggies, so one thing led to another and before you could say “Splitska torta”, around the palace community took shape! It grew and grew, and today we are some two hundred thousand strong, and growing! Nothing impressive, in comparison with, say, New York or Mexico Ciudad, but the city of Split is the second largest city in Croatia, right after the nation’s capital, Zagreb. Not bad, I say!

Splitska Torta – Dried Fig and Almond Cake

Splitska Torta - Dried Fig and Almond Cake, Pastry Maestra

So, let’s talk about our hero – Splitska Torta! First I will make four layers of dried fig and almond sponge cake. While my sponge cakes are baking, I will make French buttercream. That means that I will make pâte à bombe mixture – a mixture of whipped egg yolks and cooked sugar syrup. When pâte à bombe mixture cools down, I will add softened butter, and that will be the richest and the creamiest buttercream ever!

Splitska Torta - Dried Fig and Almond Cake, Pastry Maestra

Now, the traditional buttercream for Splitska Torta is made out of same ingredients, but it calls for whisking egg yolks with sugar on bain-marie until sugar dissolves, and then softened butter is added. I opted for French buttercream only because it is so creamy and velvety, and let’s be honest – my stand mixer does all the work! ;)

Splitska Torta - Dried Fig and Almond Cake, Pastry Maestra

Since fig season is in full swing here, I decided to decorate my cake with some beautiful, juicy, sweet fresh figs. If you don’t have that option, feel free to use dried figs for decoration. So, let’s make a delicious traditional Split dried fig and almond cake, better known as “Splitska torta”!

Splitska Torta - Dried Fig and Almond Cake, Pastry Maestra

Splitska Torta – Dried Fig and Almond Cake Recipe

by:Tereza Alabanda,The Pastry Maestra

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Prep. time : 25 minutes

Cook time : 20 minutes

Ready in 45 minutes plus cooling

Level : Basic

Ingredients:
Dried Fig and Almond Sponge Cake:

  • Dried figs 100g (3.5oz)
  • Raisins 100g (3.5oz)
  • Ground almonds 100g (3.5oz)
  • Chopped almonds 50g (1.8oz)
  • Orange zest 4g (1Tsp)
  • All purpose flour 50g (1.8oz)
  • Egg whites 200g (7oz)
  • Sugar 100g (3.5oz)
  • Kirsch liqueur for soaking 20g (2Tbsp)

French Buttercream:

  • Egg yolks 100g (3.5oz)
  • Sugar 180g (6.3oz)
  • Butter 250g (8.8oz)
  • Vanilla powder to taste

Decoration:

  • Fresh figs
  • Chopped almonds

Directions

  1. To make sponge cake put finely chopped dried figs, raisins, ground almonds and roughly chopped almonds into a bowl, and stir well to combine. Next, make French meringue from egg whites and sugar. Put egg whites into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed. When soft peaks form, gradually add sugar, and continue whisking until meringue becomes firm. Add dried fruit mixture into the meringue and gently stir with a silicone spatula until combined. Then, add orange zest and sifted flour and continue mixing until incorporated. Make sure you don’t overmix the batter!
  2. Equally distribute the mixture into four bowls, about 160g (5.6oz) each. Fill four 16cm (6″) in diameter cake rings. Then, smooth the mixture using a small spatula and bake the sponge cakes at 180°C (350°F) for about 20 minutes until nicely golden.
  3. To make French buttercream, first you need to make pâte à bombe mixture, which is a mixture of whipped egg yolks and cooked sugar syrup. Place egg yolks into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and start mixing on medium speed. Put sugar and water enough to cover the sugar into a saucepan and put the lid on. Once the syrup boils, the steam will wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan and you can remove the lid. Insert the probe of a digital candy thermometer into the syrup and continue cooking until it reaches 118°C (244°F). At that point pour the syrup carefully into whipped egg yolks, without turning off the mixer. It is important to pour the syrup between the whisk and the side of the mixing bowl. Be very careful, because if you pour the syrup directly on the whisk while it’s working, it could splatter your hands or face with hot sugar syrup and you could get serious burns! Once all the syrup is in, continue whisking pâte à bombe until it cools down. Gradually add softened butter into room temperature pâte à bombe and continue mixing until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Add vanilla powder to the buttercream and mix well to combine.
  4. Distribute the buttercream into four bowls – three bowls containing 100g (3.5oz) each, and one bowl containing 250g (8.8oz).
  5. To assemble the cake, put first sponge cake onto a plate, and lightly brush it with Kirsch liqueur. Put 100g (3.5 oz) of buttercream onto the cake, and then smooth it using a spatula. Place the second sponge cake onto the cream and brush it with Kirsch liqueur. Again, put another 100g (3.5oz) of buttercream onto the cake and smooth it using a spatula.
  6. Repeat the procedure once more. Place fourth and final sponge cake on the top. Then, smooth the sides of the cake using a plastic scraper, and place the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill.
  7. When the cake is chilled take some more buttercream using your scraper and fill the gaps and smooth the sides of the cake. Place some buttercream on top of the cake and smooth it using a spatula. Repeat this until you get the perfect shape.
  8. Pipe buttercream rosettes onto the cake. Then, decorate it with some fresh figs. Stick some roughly chopped almonds along the sides of the cake.
  9. There, your “Splitska torta” is done! Enjoy!

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