Thursday, July 16, 2009
It seemed reasonably simple........
The idea was a simple cake to take to the office as a stress-reliever during a busy tension-filled week. It sounded like "fun" and I thought it would be a great learning experience. Most off all - it was important that it look good (to me anyways) and taste good!
The basic premise was a 4-layer frosted chocolate cake filled with pecan/coconut filling. The chocolate cake and filling came from "Baking Illustrated" (a favorite as it talks about the process involved in fine-tuning the recipe). I was expecting the frosting would be a challenge...
Well - there is that saying about "best laid plans" (or is it "good intentions"?). Whatever the case may be, there were a few challenges - but - some great learning opportunities for me!
#1 - While the cakes were baking (no problems so far), I started the pecan/coconut filling. Not really wanting green accents in the filling - I had to toss the moldy coconut and plan a quick trip (there is no such thing here) to the store. This was a surprise... the dacquois wasn't THAT long ago!
#2 - The chocolate cakes didn't rise as much as I hoped and I was hesitant to slice the layers. No big deal - right? To get the height I wanted - I pulled an extra white cake layer from the freezer and sliced the top off. Problem solved (actually, that should be "sort of solved") and the 4-layer chocolate cake became a "3-layer chocolate & white" cake.
#3 - Frosting (this word is starting to scare me)......... On a recent trip to B&N - I checked out Martha's cake book and she used Swiss Meringue Buttercream all the time. Trusting just about all things Martha, I figured that is the direction I would go! After one completely failed attempt and another not-so-quick trip to the store for eggs, it was on to batch #2. This one came out well but did seem a little soft.
#4 - Hmmm, the white cake was 8" round, the chocolate cakes were 9" round. I figured this out after the first layer was filled and the white cake was stacked. A serrated steak knife (I later found my serrated kitchen knife in the dishwasher... why it was there, I am not sure) made quick easy work of trimming the top layer. Clever I thought not realizing the challenge to come later.....
#5 - The assembled cake now looked like a mutant wedding cake - one big layer and two smaller layers. A few slices and I had an 8" 3-layer cake! Again, I was thinking about how clever I was!
#6 - The frosting did not want to stick to the crumbs on the cleverly trimmed chocolate cakes so things got pretty messy (obviously). Having recently watched a DVR'd episode of Cake Boss - I tried "dirty icing" the cake. It was dirty - very dirty - but after a few minutes in the fridge to set the frosting - it worked well and I even got a pretty smooth finish on the sides (although it doesn't look that way in photo below).
#7 - Little scraps of butter wrapping accidently left in the frosting do not let piping tips work to their full potential!
Next time, I think I will try a very thin layer of frosting on top and bottom of each layer to help keep the filling "clean"..... any thoughts?
I WILL DOUBLE CHECK INGREDIENTS!
I AM GOING TO TRY STEPH'S (at whisk/spoon) SUGGESTIONS RE: FROSTING
The cake got good compliments and really was a great learning process for me! I am anxious to try it (or something like it) again soon!