Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Never-ending Cake of Doom
We are actually in the middle of moving right now so forgive me if this post is a bit scattered. I made the cake pretty early in the month so I could pack up all my baking stuff. It’s way too hot here to bake!
So, I planned on stretching this over 2 days, but it was actually more like 3 days. I’ll be honest, I don’t like finicky multi-step cake recipes so this was a real challenge for me. I’ve never made buttercream before, or ganache, or cut my cake into layers. I thought it was all just too fussy.
For my flavours, I went with hazelnut gateau, but added coconut to my praline paste (I’ll explain!) and used a watered-down maple syrup for my sugar syrup. Instead of apricot, I did a pear glaze. I ended up with not one, but TWO layers of ganache, one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate (more on that later).
Ok. First thing I made was the hazelnut praline. After roasting the beautiful hazelnuts and rubbing *most* of their skins off into the melted sugar they went. After it cooled I ran into my first glitch:
The praline almost destroyed my blender. It was a sticky, sugar-cement mess. I tried to unclog it by adding some coconut milk to loosen it up, which worked ok but I still ended up wasting a lot of the paste because it actually burnt to the blades the motor was getting so hot. Next tiem I will probably substitute this step with a blend of hazelnut butter (the real stuff, NOT Nutella!) and maple syrup.
The genoise went really well. I used ½ cup ground hazelnuts that I already had in my fridge and substituted arrowroot for cornstarch. This part of the recipe was a bit confusing for me and I ended up clanging around with far too many different bowls, but I figured it out anyway. I made half a recipe and split the batter between two 6” springform pans. I was very happy with how it baked and how fluffy it was!
Then onto the swiss buttercream disaster. Looking back, something may have gone awry at the whisking over simmering water stage, but I’m not sure. At the time I thought it looked OK. It may also have been that my butter was too soft. After a 3-4 rounds of beating/chilling I gave up. I kept thinking “this stupid stuff is just filling anyway, who cares if it’s lumpy?!” But my perfectionism got the better of me and after reading through the DB forum and seeing how hard everyone was working to get this stuff right I vowed to fix my buttercream. But at this point I was totally exhausted and decided to take that project on the next day.
Day 2 I reheated my buttercream and whisked until I thought my arm was going to fall off. Then I chilled it and whisked some more. And it worked!!!! I was thrilled. Time to get this bad boy cake assembled. I used the toothpick method for slicing the genoise. I really didn’t think that the cake needed the whipped cream layers, but I did it anyway. I put some vanilla in the whipped cream for extra pizzazz since I omitted all the liquors in the recipe.
I used Green&Blacks dark chocolate for the ganache, and everything seemed fine until the very end when it started to separate. I think it was too much stirring. I admit I was anxious the get this cake finished. It wasn’t very thick either. I should have let it cool a bit more, but never having worked with ganache before I didn’t really know the consistency I was aiming for. It turned into a sticky drippy mess. Instead of throwing the cake out the window in frustration, I took a deep breath and put it back in the fridge overnight.
Day 3 I made a ¼ recipe of the ganache, this time with Green&Blacks milk chocolate. Yum! This one worked much better, although it was still a bit runny when I poured it over top of the defective ganache. The final cake was very yummy. I froze ½ to have with my parents while they are helping with the move.