Monday, June 14, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Mousseline and Miss Irene Thompson's Dark Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Mousseline and Miss Irene Thompson’s Dark Chocolate Frosting

Saturday 12 June:

Today’s exercise In Heavenly Baking was very odd – to say the least. Since I have had some not-too-nice results with my cakes, and since I still had not acquired an oven thermometer, I did so before beginning this week’s cake, and placed it center-stage in the oven awaiting it’s debut.

All the mis en places for the mousseline and the cake were set up this morning
 and I turned the oven to 350’ F. to preheat/heat. This is an electric stove about three years old. At a certain time it dinged and presented the digits 350F.  All good to go.

--- until I looked into the oven at the thermometer, which said 335’. What? I looked again and saw that it indeed said 335’. This could not be possible. I raised the oven to 355’. The thermometer now looked as if it were going lower. I am delusional. I raised the oven to 360’ – nothing. Now I am really frustrated and I snap the oven up to 365’. After a few minutes, the thermometer deigned to slowly raise it’s temperature to 350’, where it proceeded to remain in concert with its wily companion.

I am nonplussed, to say the least. I make the batter, which is fluffy and divine.

 I now have doubts whether it will stay that way. I set the timers [two] for 30 minutes. Rose says 30-40”.  And I then sat on a Rubbermaid stool in front of the oven window, and stared, and took pictures of the cake layers. Well, it rose, making bubbles. I thought I would turn the pan that was looking a bit lopsided. I touched it and it jiggled like jello. I got out of there in a hurry. And sat. And waited. I didn’t even know what I was waiting for.

Calculating and reasoning are not my forte. I couldn’t figure out whether the temperature of the oven was really 365F or if the oven thermometer was not accurate. Moreover, I couldn’t figure out what the cake would like best – higher, faster or lower temperature longer baking. I reasoned that what I was going to have to do was to watch and wait. The sides were coming away from the sides more, and the domed tops were beginning to turn brown. Having been frightened by the soupy encounter earlier, I decide to let the cake become just a little more brown. The timers were still not ready to ding.  Finally, I summoned enough nerve to take a temperature with my Thermapen. I recall 190 – 200’ as being good, and I removed the cakes at 200’.                          I couldn’t really see the reading very well, but rechecked when out on the rack and it was indeed spot on 200’. Aha, something favorable. And having the oven calibrated is something very favorable to look forward to next week!
I Let the layers have their 10 minutes of glory in the pans on their racks, unmolded and re-inverted them, and went the h--- out to dinner, passing by Williams Sonoma, where I exchanged the OXO thermometer for a Taylor. At present the poor cakes are still resting on their racks, and I shall now wrap them and refrigerate them to ready them for their next onslaught tomorrow with the addition of strawberry mousseline and chocolate frosting.  I hate to contemplate what these cakes are going to be like inside. You’re right. I just may be presently surprised.

I know my friends, Patricia, Julie, Rozanne, Roxanne, Carolita, Matthew, Bill, Jenn, Jeanne, Cass, Sugar Chef, and many more, will be laughing their heads off. I feel like Calamity Joan, one more time. But I know these friends have answers for peculiarities, and I can count on that. Hector says he doesn’t have to use a thermometer any more because he has his oven spot on. Who knows, this may lead to a great genoise and biscuit for me!

Sunday, June 13

Well, this morning first thing I tested the replacement oven thermometer. Actually it acted exactly the way as the other one – my oven at 365’ and the thermometer at 350’. I am very happy to know this. It can reduce my baking problems a lot. After all, I can make enough mistakes without being sabotaged by my oven!

On that happy note, we went to the strawberry mousseline. I could not find American Spoon so obtained the preserves that looked the least seedy, so to speak. Therefore, did not strain. I decided to use Plugra butter after reading Rose’s comments and the Forum’s take on it. I, of course, don’t know if it was due to the Plugra , but the Mousseline came together in a snap. It kind of looked at me for an instant with that cottage-cheese look, but I stared it down and it just continued happily along. I didn’t use the Pyrex cup, just measured the temp of the sugar and dribbled it in at a steady stream and whipped it on high. Got a little heavy-handed with the red food coloring, but made up for it by putting in some wild strawberry essence.

The cake layers:  Believe it or not, although they had small holes, were very light and great crumb.       As you can see, a friend came by and before he knew it he had become addicted to the slices I was leveling off, spreading the pieces with the mousseline.
So, the cake came together well.
Miss Irene Thompson would most likely be displeased at my choice of chocolate. I only had Valrhona Le Noir 61% on hand, so I went ahead without the 99%. The frosting liquid covered the top in a perfect glaze. I did not use the spatula on it. Took a little work to keep it from cascading itself forever, but finally I got ahead of it, fighting it back up over and over on the sides, and finally the glittering, glazed treasure is holding court like the ugly duckling, all decked out in its finery. I think it is heroic.

My husband just loooves this cake!
I am excited to think I may have a calibrated oven soon, and I may love more cakes too!


  1. ב''ה

    Looks lovely. My oven also needs to be 265 to get to 250 in the middle. Except that my oven is not digital, so I just figured the handle was not calibrated properly. Now I'm thinking that maybe it is 250 on the sides or something.

    Wild strawberry essence sounds nice too.

  2. Looks great and like you had my issues with the actual cake... grrr... but at the end it was a great delicious cake enjoyed by the birthday boy and its guest.

  3. Yes, it all turned out well, considering. All this time, it never occurred to me that the oven needed calibration. Anyhow, live and learn. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Beautiful! Love the color of the mousseline against the chocolate.

  5. It is such a pretty cake coloration, I agree. The mousseline is divine - I think I am converted. Your things are always so nice. I will be over after work to see what everyone did

  6. Joan, beautiful cake. I'm glad to know that your chocolate frosting turned out even though you use all 61%. I thought that was the issue with mine. Hm.. now I don't know why mine hardens up right away.

  7. A very impressive looking cake!

  8. Beautiful cake and your crumb is so perfect! I am a little jealous :) My oven needs to be set at 325 for it to actually be 350--hooray for oven thermometers otherwise I would never have known!

  9. You all are so kind. It was sort of a comedy of errors, but one can hardly complain when one muddles through. Thanks for your enduring support, and for stopping by.

  10. Looks yummy and gorgeous!! I love that your frosting is so pink! sometimes i'm like you too..sit in front of the oven and!

  11. Thanks, Faithy. You have been making such great things. You cookies just blow me away!!!!!!! I used red food drops and wild strawberry essence. I wish I could have found American Spoon. It is on-line but $8.00 something a bottle --

  12. What a beautiful cake, Joan. That slice of cake looks very appetizing. No wonder your husband liked it. Love the deep pink color of the filling too!!

  13. Thanks Hanaa! Good to 'see' you - know you have been having a great time. Yes the mousseline was awesome. I will definitely make this cake again. Even with all the oven problems, it still was light and airy.

  14. I love that plate!

    Gorgeous looking cake. This one seems very popular with the blokes...

    I can totally relate to sitting in front of an oven waiting but not sure what I am waiting for!!

  15. Thanks Nicola. I collect various patterns of old French faience plates just for fun. I can visualize all of us across the country/ies staring into our ovens at the same time, pondering what's going on inside there. lol.