Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas Trifle


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Bull's Eye Cakes

Well - Amazing, but there were no MaryAnn pans among my arsenal. So, since I had admired other little cakes made by some of us in the past using that pan, I went to Amazon and acquired a sweet-looking MaryAnn by Nordic Ware that would produce six baskets. I considered how pretty the little basket-shaped cakes would be for all kinds tarts and short cakes in the future.

Although my finished little cakes showed the hatch-mark design, I thought, in retrospect, that I possibly should have filled the cups with more than 3/4 full of batter. In comparison to the other, plain, MaryAnn pans, these seemed somehow smaller. And then, I figured it out:

Of course, and more to the point, the answer just could be the faulty genoise batter-folding by me, causing them not to rise properly, fully, when filled to the 3/4-point specified. 
Yes, indeed, there was actually a huge problem for me with the genoise this time.


In the first place, I made it in my smaller lift-top KA. Now, I have a problem folding in the flour in this more narrow bowl, and I know that. Also, for some odd reason, I decided to use the slotted spatula instead of the whisk - Wrong decision! I began getting Wondra flour-egg-foam-gunk on the thing, and couldn't get it to fold without accumulating more thick stuff - 
Finally, I took the KA whip to fold with, and things got a little better; and then the beurre noisette and egg foam mixture lightened it up some more. But, I am certain this genoise didn't like that treatment one bit! Why should it do it's lovely job as genoise after being manhandled?!

Fortunately, these delicate little genoises didn't decide to totally punish me for my carelessness, and they managed to come forth with a small basket weave showing. They were very fragile, not plump and tall like those from other MaryAnn pans. Kind of adorable, in their own way, just sitting there, daring me to touch them lest they dissolve.  

When cool, and still hoping for the best, I carefully drenched the little cakes with the Grand Marnier syrup - no apricot eau de vie in the house, or Cognac; I do have some Armagnac, but decided against it. Then I glazed the outside of the cakes with the apricot glaze, also with a little more of the Grand Marnier in it [orange flavor of brandy of Grand Marnier must have some affinity with apricots]. I ran out of glaze; I think it was too thick.
It was only when I saw Marie's post with her beautifully glazed cake interiors, that I realized, sadly, I had entirely forgotten to glaze the interior bottoms of mine at all. I know that glazing would have given them an extra lilt of flavor from under the chocolate filling. Also, I had to make more chocolate filling.

I feel that next time it would only be prudent for me to double the batter recipe and make more cakes. Since I ran out of all apricot glaze, chocolate filling, and drizzle this time, I shall prepare double in case I come up short again. For me, it is too time consuming to make just six little cakes. And - I shall also revert to the Prince whisk, along with my larger KA standing for the folding.

Finally, I would like to acquire another MaryAnn pan. There is one by Chicago Metallic on Amazon with 12 cavities for $35. Hmm - 
After all, this is a marvelous dessert, and I do intend to prepare it again soon; this time can be considered a dress rehearsal, with great revues.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake

Once again, a luscious cake, and a chance to employ one of my batterie de cuisine of NordicWare beauty pans!

This one was not difficult and not time consuming. I took a few pictures just for fun, but there were no techniques that I thought needed to be discussed - except perhaps that I need to learn marzipan. Instead, I just dusted with confectioner's sugar and cocoa.

I gave this cake as a gift for an office party and it received rave revues, tender and fudgey!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Lemon Canadian Crown -

After deciding not to bake the ladyfingers myself, and finding only the crunchy Italian ones in the store, I was fortunate to recall our wonderful little Bistro Bakery up the street, where Madame was happy to bake divine ladyfingers for me.

I cut the bottoms off the ladyfingers and lined them around the sides of the sprayed 9" spring-form pan, using the balance to line the bottom of the pan. Then the pan was placed into the fridge.

 Next to make the curd - I used turbinado sugar
 with the eggs and lemon juice. This sugar leant a beautiful  amber, caramel color and flavor to the curd. The curd was then            cooled.

Next a cup of soft-peaked whipped cream was used to lighten the curd, and then the rest folded in, and placed into the frozen crown shell. This was frozen again, over night. This lemon, turbinado sugar, whipped cream mixture was so addictive that by the time I had licked it from everything in sight, there was barely enough to use for it's real purpose! Yum!
The next day, the meringue was prepared and put atop the crowned pan. Then placed under a broiler for less than a minute. A band of foil around the perimeter to protect the meringue, and back into the freezer after wrapping tightly after an hour. Then with heavy-duty plastic wrap for as much time as one needs it frozen up to 3 weeks. This do-ahead option is nice.

I really enjoy this torte. Even though there are periods of start-stop-wait, this was not bothersome because the overnight ones worked out well and the other cooling times were just time to do other things [lol that usually needed to be done anyway].
Everyone was captivated by the torte's appearance, and the frozen surprise inside!! My husband has fairly swooned.

For me, this is not a difficult torte; even with it's little starts and stops of cooling and freezing, it is definitely a keeper.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate Genoise with Peanut Butter Whipped Ganache

This cake was without problems for me. The genoise was baked at 355' instead of 350', for 35 minutes [mid-range]. This temperature seems to be the best for this oven and me.

The syrup made with Chambord was delicious. I let it soak overnight and made the ganache the next day.
The ganache went just fine.

Everyone liked it this cake ~ We kept half and gave half to friends. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake aka 'WLLLC' - for my daughter's 50th

For our free choice week, I am re-posting this elegant cake because on Wednesday I flew to San Diego and baked it for my daughter's surprise 50th birthday party. There were four days of surprises for her, culminating in the 'Closing Ceremony' dinner, including her cake.

Here, I am not posting pictures of the steps of baking since I did that the first time I baked the cake in August. Nothing was different this time except that when I made the buttercream the temperature in San Diego was 98'. I had no problem with the buttercream itself, but thought I would set in in an ice bath for a few minutes just in case. I was taking its temperature when the bowl dipped and a slight amount of water leaked over the side into the mixing bowl. I removed as much as I could, then refrigerated it covered with plastic. It was hot and I was tired. I really didn't want to remake this frosting.

Hastily, I went to the Forum and asked what to do. Charles showed up quickly, and said to uncover it and the water would most likely dissipate. Julie also helped, as she always does in times of crisis. I had been curious if, like stabilizing whipped cream, one could do something like that with gelatin. Of course I had no idea how much water really went in. I was short on time since there were many activities scheduled and it would really be better if it worked the first time. There were many questions and answers on the Forum about problems and solutions so I always turn there. This time I shall post the cake to say thanks.

The cake sat wrapped in plastic in the fridge overnight and Friday it looked fine. In whipping it to soften for frosting it was soft, but in that heat, why wouldn't it be, I reasoned. My hostess was kind enough to torte it and put on the curd that I had made at home, frozen and carried with a blue-ice in a zip-lock bag in the suitcase. That way, I only had the custard and completed buttercream to do the day after arrival. We crumb-coated it Friday and waited until Saturday to frost it. All went well.

The cake was light and tender; the curd was just tart and lemony enough, and the buttercream-lemon- white chocolate delicate and delicious. Everyone enjoyed it. Personally, I love this cake, even though I do think it is easier to make it in two sessions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Bostini [I had posted this out-of- turn so here it is again]

Since I first came across The Bostini in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes", I have been captivated by the thought of the patisserie cream, fluffy orange chiffon muffins, and splendiferous chocolate glaze cascading down the cappuccino cup. How Italian, insouciant, and romantic, at a tiny marble table in the candlelit garden after dinner - I waxed enthusiastic. I thought Rose's rendition of the Boston Cream Pie would be even more decadent. And so I chose it to create for our Heavenly 'free week'. I thought of the history of the recipe so protected by it's creator that he required a contract from his restaurant, guarding his inception of it. All that being said - I had no doubt that anything named "The Bostini" would be great!
So, today, we approached the baking as usual, setting up four mis en places: One for the orange chiffon cupcakes; one for the patisserie cream; one for the chocolate butter glaze [chocolate and butter adornment. All the trays looked very neat and colorful on the table.
I went into the kitchen for a moment, leaving my camera on the tea cart since I planned to take a few pictures during activities. And when I passed back through the door into my workstation [which is more aptly the dining room table covered with a thick plastic cloth], I was met by sous chef, "Mercurious Sublimatus," the Baking Cat.

He was hard at work weighing and measuring.
The following work involved tasting and his
decision that whatever it was did not appeal
to him. Mostly, however, what didn't appeal to him was the realization that the Chef
was not only in the
house, but watching him!

Setting up!


I should taste it!


Oops! Chef in the house ~~~~~~~

The Bostini is not actually difficult at all. One must put together the orange-zested batter by folding stiffly
beaten egg whites into it.

I use the large balloon whisk from J. Prince. The Lekue muffin pan works well with foil liners with the paper left in and sprayed with Baker's Joy.

You may see them rising nicely in the oven.
I had enough batter to make some Madeleines, that were exquisite. Light bites of faerie delicacies. The muffins, themselves, were light and airy with their fragrance of orange. They were beyond compare. It was hard to believe.

The patisserie cream was lovely with its vanilla pod and seeds.
Clearly, the Bostini is becoming more than the sum of it's parts. The little cappuccino cups are filled over half with the custard, covered with plastic, and placed into the fridge to chill.

Next the glaze - The chocolate Valrhona and butter are set to melt. Chocolate in a Lekue bowl over hot water and butter in a small pan, whisked together and cooled. I was pressed for time so I cooled the glaze in the fridge for a short time.
And last, but not least, the cups of patisserie cream emerge from the fridge to receive their muffin. Rose suggests they be placed upside-down for a cork-like effect to keep the cream from over flowing when the cake is eaten. Now to pour the chocolate over the tops, hoping they resemble the photograph of the gorgeous one in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes".

Of course, it didn't really matter because they were so marvelous and unique. The flavor and consistency beyond belief - How could one adequately describe how airy, filled with fragrance of orange,
this melt-in-the-mouth confection truly is? Is it possible?
Come and experience the essence of chiffon!