Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Inspiration in Cake Form

We got together later than usual on Tuesday. Usually we bake in the morning, about 9 am or so (Usually, I seem to be running late at that point, but I do make a stop at Dunkin' Donuts.) Today we started at 1:45 or 2.

So it began for me, harried, late and frazzeling (ok, I have no idea how to spell that word). It started out, for Janet a bit on the rough side, too. The leader of the Tour de France's last section was kicked out for doping. And it was a rest day so there wasn't much being said about it on our news. I just noticed that it was in the headlines on my homepage, so it's news here too.

You could say we both got up on the wrong side of the oven. Given these bumps and the fact that last week's cake was very, very good, it's safe to say that we both expected today's cake to be ok, alright, not great, plodding.

We made the Golden Luxury Butter Cake (pg 48) I know, it's another butter cake -- but we are only 4 away from the end of the butter cake chapter! This cake goes together like most of her butter cakes, sift dry ingredients, aerate, add butter and wet ingredients in 3 batches, only for 20 seconds after each batch....This one came together with no problems. We did notice a bit of bubbling on the tops when the layers were cooked, so we probably over mixed, but it wasn't a problem overall.

RLB suggests that we make a Lemon Buttercream for the cake, but we had done that with our Buttermilk Country Cake
(Mar.30.07) And since we want to cook as many things as possible without making duplicates, we made the Mousseline Buttercream (pg 244) We do realize that we made it the last time (Ju.17.07). This time we made the Orange version,

For a fruit Mouselline RLB suggest using puree or curd. Due to my tardiness and Janet's feelings of stir craziness she made Orange Curd (pg 342) before I came. Following the directions as written it came up a bit pasty, floury without the almost silky, slightly opaque quality of curds.

"This really frosted me!" Janet said grumbling under breath. I burst out laughing, cause, near as we can tell, the reason would be we used frozen eggs yolks -- remember the 4.5 egg whites from the last cake? We assume that being frozen changed the proteins and made them coagulate in tighter balls. At this point Janet said, "Ok Alton." I grinned and said I don't know if I'm channeling Alton Brown or Shirley Corriher. (Mr. Brown is the host of Good Eats, probably one of my favorite all time cooking shows. Ms. Corriher wrote a wonderful food science book _Cookwise_ that would be the entire text of my food class.)

At this point, we're both thinking, "Rats, this is going to be a big let down." It's followed by a comma when the feeling's not as strong -- can anyone tell us where that's from?

Then, the cakes came out of the oven. They were lightly golden brown, the edges were that crisp, crepe like edge that we both like. They turned out easily -- well it was easy for Janet, mine got a bit of a crack in the top.

Both of us looked at it like them like they were the Holy Grail. They smelled righteous.

The Mousseline turned into its fine self. And Janet and I got the idea that we'd place the curd between the layers. A great idea until it started to slide. Domed cake tops will do that! So I sliced off the dome of one and they fit together much more nicely. As I said, "There are no accidents here, only snacks." We placed the domed parts in a bowl and continued to eat them up. With a fine crumb and a dense texture, it was a pound cake without the weight. Kathy, who got a drive by caking last night, said to me on the train, "That cake was so good. It's texture...great."

What is beauty? To me along with a good long dinner with friends, it's a cake that inspires you. Janet and I were so happy with the outcome of this cake that we both started to spout out ideas of what would work as an addition to the frosting.

We said nuts finely chopped, almonds, walnuts, pecans, placed between the cake layers would be good. So, Janet turned around and pulled out a bag of each. "You're so like me, only prepared." Strangely enough it's true. We do work well together.

In the taste test: Untoasted almonds were quite bland. Walnuts caused such a reaction on my face that Janet said, "If it did that, I have to try it." Way too bitter for the cake frosting combo. Pecans were quite a nice addition with their texture and their sweetness. Janet still holds out for toasted almonds.

This led to a discussion about what herb would we use. I suggested Basil. Orange and basil often work well together. Alas, we had no basil to test.

With the orange, we did decide that blackberries would be wonderfull added to the plate. Then we found blueberries in the fridge. Adding a splash of orange flower water, a bit of sugar and muddling that with the blueberries was a wonderfully refreshing, perfumy addition to the cake. Try it. It was a bit like sex.

"Don't get me wrong, I like sex...a lot. But it's never going to replace cake." Stephanie Plum. Thank you Kristing in West Lafayette for the quote. Read Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series, they are a hoot!

Bake through....


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