Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Assembled the white/lemon/blackberry cake today. Took a lot more buttercream than I expected, but it turned out pretty well. One thing about this cake, it is freakin' tall. Way taller than it looks in the picture in the book. I almost couldn't fit it in the box. Perhaps I should bake less batter per pan next time. Or perhaps freakishly tall cakes are the hip new wave of the future. Here are some construction pics:

test_white_halfway test_white_stacked test_white_frosted

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Oh, I also forgot to mention that while I was up in Julian this weekend checking out the site of the wedding, I found a copy of The French Cookie Book by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat, authors of the cake book I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. It was in excellent condition at a used book store and I think it's out of print, so it was hard to pass up.

Made my first curds tonight: lemon curd and blackberry curd. These will go into the white cake with lemon and blackberry. I'll probably do the buttercream tomorrow and then assembly on Wednesday. I'm thinking about buying a real double-boiler, instead of trying to manage a bowl balanced over a pot of water. Maybe that will help me reach optimum curdling temperature within the recipes' estimated times.

curd_blackberry_cooking curd_blackberry_lemon

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Okay, so tonight I assembled the chocolate with raspberry buttercream cake and the chocolate raspberry truffle cake. In the first picture, you have the two layers of chocolate sour cream cake with their tops trimmed flat, stacked together with the raspberry buttercream in-between. You can see a little of the pink buttercream showing through in the center there. At this point, I'm midway through the crumb coat. Next, the cake frosted and decorated with some piping around the edge. And check it out, the piping is almost even. It's not perfect, but it is WAY better than any of my in-class attempts. I call that progress. Next picture, the finished cake. Yeah, I kinda pulled the chocolate-chip triangles out of nowhere. In the book, this cake has shaved chocolate curls covering it's sides, and flowers on top. I'm still looking for a local source for organically grown (pesticide-free) flowers (anybody??) and my chocolate shavings were... not ideal. Lastly, d'oh! I lost control of the cake while lowering it into the box. But see the picture before that? Proof that I had it right, if only for three minutes. Man, that was not a fun occurrence.

test_choc_crumb test_choc_frosted test_choc_decor test_choc_smashed

Next row, the chocolate raspberry truffle cake. The picture on the left is the cake freshly unmolded and undecorated. Yeah, that's the cake without frosting. I can't imagine how rich that thing's going to be. Finally, on the right, the same cake with a lovely and simple bittersweet chocolate ganache, ganache bead trim, and fresh raspberries.

test_chocras_undec test_chocras_dec

Okay, taste-testers, you know who you are. Let's get to the comparing and contrasting!

Monday, May 17, 2004

I'm going to split today's update into a couple posts, since a lot got done recently. I spent the whole weekend preparing cake components. I want to bring one of each of the three kinds of cakes my sister and her fiancé picked out to their engagement party at the beginning of June. I also wanted to do a test run of each cake so wasn't surprised by anything right before the party. I think I baked ten cake layers on Saturday. Everything was wrapped and tossed into the freezer for later assembly. I figure it makes sense to prepare as much as possible in advance to avoid a last-minute panic.

In the first picture, you'll see the first two layers of chocolate sour cream cake, for eventually inclusion in the chocolate with raspberry buttercream cake.


Next, you'll see three phases of the white cake layers (for the white cake with lemon and blackberry curds). First, the batter in the pans. Next, the pans in the oven, part-way through baking. Anyone see disaster looming? The first batch of those ended up rising past the edge of the pans and overflowing onto the oven coils. Smokey! I ended up cooling down the oven and scrubbing it out before I started the next batch. The second time around, I poured some of the excess batter into a cupcake pan. Bonus. I used the same white cake recipe as for that lemon-filled cake I made a few weeks ago. If you recall, I had some problems with those cakes being fragile and crumbly, which at the time I attributed to the whole wheat pastry flour. I had a little bit of the same problem again this time, although not quite as much. Moreso with the crazy overflowing batch. How would I change it next time? Maybe include some higher-protein all-purpose flour? Not sure. You can see in the next picture how the first couple cakes started to crumble around the edges. Hopefully, they will hold together enough to assemble them into whole cakes later.

test_whitebatter test_whitebaking test_whitecakes_done

The last picture is of the flourless chocolate raspberry truffle cake, part-way through baking. That one was really fascinating. Since it's made without flour, it was really almost more of a flan or custard-like recipe. Melted chocolate, eggs, cream, raspberries. That one should be interesting to taste. Also interesting, the recipe called for a single three-inch deep layer. Well, I don't own a 3-inch deep cake pan, and I couldn't find one at any of the stores I checked, either. I ended up getting a 3-inch deep springform pan, which you would normally use for something like cheesecake. It ended up working out well. I wrapped it in foil to seal it enough to put in a water bath, as you can see in the picture.


Finally, on Sunday I made a couple batches of chocolate italian buttercream (egg whites + almost-caramelized sugar + lots of butter + melted chocolate) and a batch of raspberry italian buttercream (egg whites + almost-caramelized sugar + lots of butter + pureed raspberries). I declined to strain the seeds out of the raspberry puree. That's texture. Good, bad? You decide. Oooh, and I got to buy a candy thermometer just for the occasion.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I finally got to run the books by my sister and future brother-in-law. They found three cakes that they really liked, so I'm going to get started on some samples to try out: sour cream chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream, white cake with lemon curd and blackberry curd, and chocolate raspberry truffle cake. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

As promised, pictures of the chocolate chip cookie experiment. If you're someone who got to try one, post an opinion.

chocchip_sucralose chocchip_mixing chocchip_oven chocchip_done