Monday, 30 July 2007

grmph

translated in English: the Daring Bakers’ July challenge - strawberry mirror cake

A few months ago, I read something about a group of Daring Bakers, and then forgot about it again. But a month later, I found more Daring Baker stuff popping up on various blogs. And another month later, yet more of the same. By the time Martha’s darkest chocolate crepe cake came around, I found myself reading all the DB entries, which made for some very amusing reading. After that, I found myself keeping an eye on the DB blogroll and eagerly anticipating what they would make the next month. The Gateau St Honoré sounded rather scary, what with the puff pastry and pate à choux and all, but I thought it would be a nice challenge and encourage me to make things outside my comfort zone, so I asked them if they would have me (pretty please) and luckily enough, they had a little place for me available.

And so, this month, I prepared for my first challenge: strawberry mirror cake, chosen by Peabody's culinary concoctions. I printed the recipe, read it again and again and again and planned when to make the whole thing. It would be a challenge for me to follow the recipe to the letter (that’s a DB rule) but I was looking forward to trying something I’d never made before. Normally, when I make an American recipe, the first thing I do is reduce the sugar, as I usually find American recipes too sweet for me. Also I don’t really liked the idea of using red food colouring (I like my food all natural) and I can’t say I’m fond of gelatin - I’ve only used it a few times in the past, usually with disastrous results, and I don’t particularly like the way texture feels in my mouth. Plus I once did an evening course in conservation and restoration of paintings, where we would often use animal glue, which smells exactly the same as gelatin. But, as a true Daring Baker, I would fearlessly give it a go.

I have to admit though, I’m not that much of a cake eater, never have been and never will be - at birthdays and other occasions I always skip the cake part. Making and assembling the whole thing took ages and was a lot of bother (partly because I didn’t have all the required equipment), and I wasn’t really impressed when I tasted it (but that’s because I’m not a cake eater). It must have been good though, because S took the finished cake to work and his colleagues absolutely loved it.

To me, this cake ended up being one of those things that sound good on paper, but somehow don’t work. Like clothes in a shop that look fabulous on the hanger, but are not a good fit when you try them on. But I am glad I did try this recipe on; at least now I know it’s not a good fit for me. I would try something similar again, maybe with a pound cake or a less sweet sponge and a mousse that doesn’t need gelatin. The mirror bit I think is something would look quite pretty on any cake, so I will try that again as well.

Here’s how my weekend of cake making went down.

Friday night I made the sponge - I don’t have a jelly roll pan, so I used a 24cm round spring form and baked two separate sponges. The first one was a disaster, which I blame on my oven. I’m sure that in new and well-behaved ovens, baking a sponge for 7 minutes at 230˚C works just fine, but in my oven that resulted in a burnt top and liquid centre. Attempt number two, baked for 20 minutes at 150˚C was somewhat more successful, but the bottom of the sponge remained rather sticky. I confess I did substitute the vanilla essence with vanilla bean paste, because I had a whole bottle of the latter and none of the former. Hope that doesn’t mean I broke the rules.

Saturday I went grocery shopping for eggs, strawberries, sugar and cream. Being half space out on antibiotics must have messed up my intellectual capacities (such as adding up and reading) though, because I ended up buying way too many strawberries. And instead of 1 1/2 cup’s worth of cream, I bought 1 1/2 pints worth of cream. Also I was feeling quite sick, so I didn’t get around to making the cake that day.

Sunday I was feeling a bit better, so I started the day full of hope and good intentions to get the whole cake together. First thing was making a new sponge, as the one I’d made on Friday had gone stale. The strawberry juice and Bavarian cream were fairly easy to make, only I misread the recipe (damn those antibiotics) and found out afterwards I hadn’t added enough gelatine to the Bavarian cream. And I only have a tiny sieve with fine mesh, so it took me ages to strain the strawberry purée, so now a proper-sized is very high up on my wishlist. The red food colouring did make the Bavarian cream a bit more pink rather than the original - but natural! - muddied pink colour. Around 7pm I was quite fed up but finally ready to assemble the cake. I used an 18cm round spring form (I didn’t buy any new equipment for this recipe, but just used the things I already have), with a cardboard circle covered in aluminium foil at the bottom (very handy tip!) and a ‘collar’ of baking paper all around. I thought I had some vanilla vodka left, but I didn’t, so I didn’t put any liqueur in the soaking syrup at all. The four layers of the cake already came higher than the spring form - luckily I had added a collar to it.

Monday I finally added the mirror (I didn’t add any food colouring to it, because I thought it had an all natural beautiful intense red colour already). By then I was so fed up with it all, I couldn’t be bothered to do something about the bubbles in the mirror. Nor did I feel like adding any decoration to the cake at all. I snapped a few quick piccies (maybe I should have cut the top of my sponge, because the browned top made a dark line in my cake), ate a piece and was not impressed.

Tuesday I made S take the whole shebang into work and told him I didn’t want to see a single crumb of it ever again. And I threw the recipe printout in my paper recycling bin, feeling strangely satisfied while doing that.

Check out the other Daring Bakers' cakes here.

29 comments:

Deborah said...

Well, even though you didn't enjoy the cake, it sure looks pretty!!

breadchick said...

Welcome on board and good for you completing your first challenge. I agree, this cake wasn't for all of us. Nice job though

Anh said...

Inne, I am glad you finished the cake even you were sick...

I love the way your cake looks. So pretty in pink.

Hilda said...

For all your trials and tribulations, your cake came out beautifully. I made it a week later with raspberries and it tasted much better. I think it might be even better mango-flavored...

steph- whisk/spoon said...

I felt a similar way about my cake (grmph). Your pictures are really lovely tho, at least.

Beatrice said...

Oh, what a delicious cake and photos!

Bea
La Tartine Gourmande

creampuff said...

Oh, Inne!

I'm so happy you joined our group! You're so talented. Your cake is beautiful ... like you ... I threw the recipe out, though. I don't EVER want to see it again!!!

Ivonne

Connie said...

wow, you were so well prepared and spread the recipe out over so many days. that was a good idea.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

ummm, grmph, ahem, I think maybe this is not going to be your favorite cake then.
My favorite part of this cake is the strawberry juice that becomes the mirror - I'm thinking I really love that stuff and one day it will emerge as a totally different character on my table . . . one day.
Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Anita said...

Sorry you didn't like the cake Inne, but I'm glad you perservered through the recipe. It looks very lovely and I'm sure everyone loved it!

DaviMack said...

I must say that I, too, tossed the recipe.

I did, however, do something about the bubbles: I took a straw and slurped at the (truly harsh tasting) jello, until I had ... well, harvested them.

I was going to comment that your addition of a layer of chocolate was probably a brilliant idea ... but, you know, the dark streak? Maybe if you had put a layer of chocolate it would have been more flavorful. :)

It still looks quite good, even if you don't enjoy it.

-D

Patricia Scarpin said...

Inne, your cake is really beautiful! And I'm sure delicious, too!

Lis said...

What a pretty cake, Inne! I love it. And God, I wish I had your aversion to cakes! My hips would love me so much more. :D

Way to go.. you completed your first challenge beautifully!

xoxo

Kelly-Jane said...

Welcome to the DBs!

You did really well with your first challenge, lovely cake :)

ChichaJo said...

What a lovely cake! You are truly a daring baker now :) And I love that plate with the pink flowers!

Dharm said...

Inne,
Your cake looks lovely.. well done especially for doing it while you were sick...

Peabody said...

Good job on your first challenge. I'm glad you now know that this type of cake is not for you.

Veron said...

You're such a trooper ,even when you were not feeling too well you finished the challenge. I'm sorry you did not enjoy the cake, it looks really beautiful though, you did a great job!

Cheryl said...

I hope your feeling better, but your sure did a great job with the cake while sick.

Tartelette said...

Let me congratulate you on making it through your first challenge feeling as bad as you did!
Although I like the cake it is not one I woud run too at the bakery.
Your cake looks gorgeous!

Laura said...

I can't say I agree with your opinion on your cake Inne it looks lovely to me.

Nazca said...

I made it all in one day, started at 4 and finished around 11... I slept well that night! Luckily it wasn't too warm up here in Manchester :-)

Anne said...

Beautiful cake, lovely plate :) Well done on your first challenge!

wmpe said...

Inne, Your cake is lovely, and you made it when you were ill too. Wow!!! I love that rectangular dish you served your slice on.
Wendy @ wmpesblog

KJ said...

Well your cake looks lovely. I agree it's not for everyone.

Quellia said...

Good work on your first challenge! Even if you didn't like the results, you pushed through!

Elle said...

Love the comparison to a dress that should look good, but doesn't when you put it on. This cake was like that, although my guest liked it. Glad that you are a Daring Baker and completed the challenge. Sorry that I'm so late commenting.

Chris said...

Congrats on your first challenge! Your pictures are wonderful!

Culinarily Curious said...

I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the cake, but I'm glad you joined in anyway. The final result was lovely.