Our great-grandmother, Rosalia Becker, was a wedding cake baker and made tortes for the receptions in the village. Weddings had an assortment of cakes and on average 90 eggs were used to bake for just one festivity. Our father recalls having to endlessly carry cakes down into the earthen cellar and back out for the celebrations. This cake was my favourite as a child and is ‘the’ cake in our family line. – Eva

12 eggs
12 tbsp white sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds
scraped out
12 tbsp plain flour, plus extra
for dusting
¼ tsp baking powder
Chocolate buttercream
200 g dark chocolate
(60–70% cocoa)
300 g white sugar
3 eggs
350 g butter, at room

COOK’S NOTES: You need to work gently yet quickly with the cake batter, so it stays fluffy and does not deflate. Ideally it is made a day in advance so the buttercream can soften the layers. If you prefer coffee flavouring, you can substitute the chocolate for a shot of strong espresso to make a coffee buttercream instead.

Heat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Prepare two round baking trays by buttering and dusting them with flour. I use the bases of springform cake tins for this – they must be at least 26 cm in diameter. Alternatively, trace two 26 cm circles on baking paper and line regular baking trays.
Separate six eggs, placing the whites in a large mixing bowl and the yolks in a smaller one. Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until quite stiff, then add 5 tablespoons of the sugar, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until fully incorporated.
Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean to the egg yolks and whisk with electric beaters until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the egg yolk mixture to the egg white mixture and very gently fold in until just combined.
Sieve 6 tablespoons of the flour and half the baking powder over the egg mixture and, using a whisk, gently fold in until just incorporated. The goal is to keep the mixture as fluffy as possible.
Next, take one-sixth of this mixture and carefully spread it evenly onto the prepared baking tray, forming a 26 cm diameter circle. The circle should be approximately 5 mm thick. Repeat with another one-sixth of the mixture and the second baking tray. Place in the oven and cook for 8 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and, with care, immediately remove the cake layers from the trays and place them on wire racks. Again, prepare the trays with butter and flour – you may need to wipe them down before doing so – and repeat until you have six layers of cake rounds.Before spreading buttercream on the top layer, trim the edge of the cake, the whole way around, into a nice and smooth round shape – kind of like cutting the crusts off toast! Lastly, spread buttercream over the top and side of the cake and smooth it out as much as possible. Any remaining mixture can be piped onto the top as decoration. Refrigerate the cake for 24 hours and make sure you bring it back to room temperature before serving.

CREDIT: Kindred by Maria and Eva Konecsny, published by Plum, RRP $49.99, photography by Armelle Habib & Amy Whitfield.