Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bernachon Palet d'Or Gateau

It all began quite innocently. I couldn't find my usual Green&Black's cocoa. Williams-Sonoma doesn't carry it any longer, and all I could find was another brand of Unsweetened Natural Alkaline. I will have to send for the Green&Black's, although when I looked online I couldn't find it there either. I don't know if this was just an omen or not.
I was interested in baking the cake by internal temperature. I have read recently that 190' - 205'F is a good range. I thought I would go for 200' and the 35 min. of Rose's recipe. Well, I guess this would have been closer to fine if I had remembered to start the timer. By the time I remembered, it was half-time. I was studying the cake. It was rising, but the sides were already giving evidence of shrinking yet the middle was looking wet. More of this exercise led to my finally taking it's temperature at 149' - uh oh. Very goopy and I have used up a peek. I waited a longer time. Watching. I had already set up the ganache, so that was ready to do, but I am not very multi-tasked and was suffering along with this cake, bemusing why this has to be so difficult for me. I had done everything just as directed, weighing, sifting - then I realized - Along with undermining myself by not starting the timer, I had neglected to use a cake strip. Well, that was part of the problem. Now, by the looks of things and the time elapsed, it was time for a temperature check. I don't want to open that door again, especially since it is looking moist in the center, but the sides are looking dark. So now the temperature is about 180' - I decide to wait to 200'. So I let it stay in and of course it went overtime. Just as the Forum advised it might if not on guard, and I frantically grabbed it out at 225'. It had increased temperature very quickly, just like caramel, and now is dry as a bone and has holes. So much for that. I still could blame it on the cocoa. On the plus side, I had remembered to add a few drops of chocolate essence.
Also, in retrospect, I see that the oven rack was in the middle. When will I learn. It usually just stays in the lower third of the oven but this time it wasn't. So we have three problem areas, and a lousy cake. It had to be the cocoa.

Next the ganache.
Once again, the alternate cocoa. This was easy. I mixed the ingredients and let it sit for the hour; then covered it in its glass bowl, letting it sit for the hours it took for the cake to cool. When I did take the plastic wrap off, there was a layer of glacine looking liquid butter on top. Even though the butter I had added was still holding its shape, I thought it could have been too high in temp. I just stirred gently for a long time to incorporate it, and had no further problem with the ganache.

When the cake was cool. I 'crumb coated it' for drill; refrigerated it for an hour and then frosted it.

I am aware this cake has big problems, but now the exercise at-hand is the glaze. The ganache is on the cake crumb coated refrigerated, then frosted as smooth as I could make it. After a couple of hours of hot knives, I was exhausted and went to bed with it tucked away for the night in the fridge. I laughed as I recalled the days when a few of us close girlfriends would say, "We know each other so well we know all the lumps in our leotards."

Still smiling about my friends' jesting, I realize the case of leotard-glaze revealing frosting-lumps has been daunting for me. As they say, "It's sheen is like the cover of a baby grand piano"- it does look so beautiful on Rose's book cover--- I check and double-check the mis en place. Then I begin. In retrospect, the first thing I think went wrong was that while I was quickly taking a few pictures of it, the glaze quickly reached the first plateau of 190'F even though I was taking it's temperature. Before I grabbed it, it was boiling heavily around the edges and getting thicker - too thick I thought, hastily removing it and straining the glaze into the metal strainer until 122'F. Reprieve.

Now, however, came the downfall of the glaze: - Unfortunately, my eyes had slipped down to the next paragraph in the recipe, and I had now begun to strain the glaze into the 2 cup measure [which was meant to be the step after the stirring in of the gelatin]. About 4 ounces into that task, my eyes suddenly caught sight of the little green bowl full of bloomed gelatin set to the ready. Drat. Now I am panicked, trying to stop the straining, finding another receptacle, and chocolate is oozing. I find another bowl, retrieve most of the chocolate and try to stir the gelatin into it. So, finally as directed in the first place, I strain these ingredients into another bowl stirring it gently - it looks like grits. However, I still cling to the hope that it will dissolve the gelatin since it is very warm. But it doesn't. And I wait to pour it onto the poor rock of a cake, and continue to take its temperature many, many times until it finally falls to just over 80', but it has gotten so thick. I remove the cake from the fridge and begin to pour - lukewarm brown grits fall from the cup, plopping onto the top of the cake. Well, now we know. I take the small offset spatula and begin to push it here and there, hoping to effect some semblance of a flat surface. So, the glaze was ruined by my allowing it to thicken past its 190'F, and by not stirring in the gelatin at that time the temp fell to 122-140', and then re-straining it. I feel it would have been pourable when it reached 80' under normal circumstances, as Rose directs. I refrigerated the cake over night. In the morning, I then applied a hair-dryer to it - partly to obtain shine, and partly in the desperate hope that maybe one gelatin grain would disappear. The leotard was just unforgiving. I don't see the glaze as being difficult at all, and will be comfortable making it again, just following directions! I can't even blame the cocoa.

You can see how lumpy it was below.

And gritty.

I cut the cake and was confronted by a myriad of holes and dry as a bone. It will require much ice-cream.

My list now includes: An oven thermometer [finally], two more pizza stones, some Green&Black's cocoa -- and learn to use my SousChef software that speaks the directions in its little computer voice!


  1. Sorry about all the mishap. I've had my fair share of reading the wrong instructions too..or even forgetting the ingredients! :) there is SousChef software? Now you got me curious!

  2. Im sorry the cake didnt turn out, but what a great story!

  3. Thanks. LOL. Faithy - yes, a friend put it on my computer but I haven't figured out how to use it. You have to 'scan' the recipes in. It prints them in huge print and then it reads it to you. You even have you choice of voices - naturally I chose a sexy boy computer voice : ) I haven't had time to go online to learn how to work it yet. Let me know if you find out a way.

  4. Joan, I empathize, we've all been there. I thought of two things that might help (in future).

    First, at 350F, near the end of baking time, internal temp rises about 10-15F per five minutes in the oven (without convection). So, for instance, if you are 20F below target, then 7-8 minutes additional baking might do it.

    Second, the cocoa: if you use a cocoa that isn't full fat (like G&B), and you weigh ingredients, this cake will come out dry even when baked properly (the voice of experience, sigh). Check the nutrition label for fat content to see if a cocoa will work, it should be at least 20% fat by weight.

    If you want to use a cocoa with a lower fat content, you can substitute a little unsweetened chocolate for part of it. If you would like more on how to do this, PM me over on Rose's forum and I'll send you my file.

  5. Ooops, forgot, there was a third thought (just box my ears if this is too much advice...).

    If you happen to run into the same problem with the glaze, try warming it gently until the gelatin melts, then cool to glazing consistency.

  6. Oh Joan, I don't know what to say... but hey, I loved reading about your mishaps. Actually, I don't think your cake looks bad - maybe add a sprinkling of Sanding Sugar to help camouflage the bumpy leotard look ;).


  7. I think you have delicious components for an ice cream truffle and judging by last weeks truffle in your beautiful bowl, no one would be the wiser!

  8. I feel your pain! Sometimes you just don't find the cake making zone... but the great thing is, there is always next week!

    But on the plus side, chocolate cake mixed into vanilla icecream.

  9. Thanks Vicki and Nicola - great ideas to save the day. I love strawberry and raspberry with chocolate, and some blueberries in there might be fun. It might just be a great idea to get some vanilla ice cream and do the layers with syruped cake. Yum. Actually the cake flavor was really enhanced by the chocolate essence drops. your ideas were super.

  10. Thanks Patricia and Julie, my two most fav mentors! Wow, I was half joking about the cocoa, and am delighted to hear what you say. I did see some Scharffenberger's on the shelf. I will go over there and check it out. Julie, I was reading the Forum the other day and noticed the caution to watch closely, but I was too addled to catch it. I will see you over there. Your remarks are always so helpful. Sanding sugar might have at least given ann illusion, Patricia lol.
    Thank you both, as always.

  11. I second Nicola's comment, yep, there are those days were we don't have our cake mojo just right and everything seems to go down the drain. Kudos to you for forging ahead.

    And yes, there is always ice cream to fix the dry cake.

  12. I'm just glad my husband isn't set up with a video like yours. It would have looked like a 3-ring circus! It was your easy accomplishment with the spun sugar that gave me permission to do it for the trifle. Thanks.

  13. Sorry you had so many problems with your cake but I loved reading your experience. You are so funny and good natured about it all. I am sure you learned a ton of things that will help you next time.

  14. I just watch your creations and remain inspired!