November 18, 2006
Name of Cake: Eat My Birthday Cake, Fools
Occasion: One Year and One Month of The Cakeblog!
Constituents: three-layer Devil's Food Cake with Coffee Buttercream and some toffee chunks
I mean, Evil Cake Lady should bake a Devil's Food Cake for the blog, ya know?
I had all these wonderful plans for how this baking process would go. I would make the toffee early on in the week, maybe Monday or Tuesday. Thursday I would make the coffee buttercream. And Friday night, I'd bake the cakes. Saturday, sometime between oozing out of bed around noon and the party at seven, I would put the thing together, and lo, the masterpiece to behold.
Then my last birth client of 2006 told me she was getting induced Wednesday night. Which meant the end of my week would disappear into the hazy fog of laborland, and instead of making frosting or baking cakes I would be escorting a new couple through the dark and twisty maze that leads to the gates of parenthood--a journey fraught with unknowns and who knows whats that I knew would leave me exhausted and unable to operate heavy machinery.
So I decided to at least get the cake ready for baking by measuring out the dry ingredients and setting them aside in a tub until the baking day. That way, when I was ready, most of my prep would be done and I'd just have to deal with the wet ingredients and bringing the butter up to room temp. I think it would be cool to have pre-measured dry ingredients for several of the butter cakes measured up and set aside--a home made version of cake from a box. With like, way better results and stuff.
And I am SO glad I did do that, as I discovered that I was out of baking soda. One crisis averted. (check!)
Then on Monday I made the toffee, which didn't really come out right, but The Guy Who Doesn't Like The New Nickname (name changed to make fun of him) gave me the Key To Making Toffee In A Humid Environment for which I am eternally grateful. (Grateful enough to call him The Guy Who Doesn't Like The New Nickname instead of something else, that is.)
Wednesday I got antsy and decided to bake the cakes. I figured I could do a double wrap of plastic then foil and store them in the refrigerator until Saturday. The frosting wouldn't take that long, so I felt okay about leaving that task until Saturday.
I like that the cakes are leavened with baking soda and the cocoa powder is the non-alkaline kind. It gives the cake that cool reddish hue (not the be mistaken with the chemical red velvet cake which requires enough red food dye to mutate your unborn children's children's children.)
As cool as I thought I was to have the dry ingredients pre-measured, I didn't bother to take out the eggs and the FROZEN butter until only a few minutes before I was ready to get my bake on, and I still had to boil water to make the cocoa paste which would have to cool down to room temperature before I could mix it into the batter. So the oven patiently pumped out 350 degrees of heat for a good hour before I put anything in it, and I wandered around and around waiting for butter to warm up and cocoa paste to cool down. I cubed the butter and stuck it on a plate on top of the stove with hopes that the warm stove would encourage a little softening, but never ever a melting. The cocoa paste was in a ceramic bowl and cooling down slower than hot magma. Let me remind you that ceramic is a great material because it holds its temperature for a long time. Yeah I know, duh. I should have used a stainless steel bowl. In a fit I put the hot steamy bowl in the freezer. And paced around the kitchen some more.
Luckily for me, some dude named Aaron made a breakthrough with RLB's chocolate cake enigma. Many people, myself included, would follow her recipe for chocolate butter cake to the letter and would end up with a dry product. I thought I had fixed the problem when I started measuring yolks and whites separately. It did help, but Aaron, that smart mofo, put steam and evaporating water together and realised valuable moisture was being lost as millions of cake bakers waited for the cocoa paste to cool down to room temperature.
May the cake gods always smile on our friend Aaron.
Finally, the cakes were baked, cooled, and double-double-wrapped. I left them out overnight by accident and shoved them into the refrigerator Thursday morning.
That evening, I stepped into the labyrinth.
Very early Saturday morning I stumbled out of the labyrinth and fell asleep on my couch.
Around 5:30 this evening I started in on the coffee buttercream and discovered I didn't have enough corn syrup to use the Neoclassic Buttercream recipe. I like the Neoclassic Buttercream because you use corn syrup for a part of the sugar-water solution, and once it all comes up to a boil you're done. No temperature taking, no overcooking, just bring to a boil and off you go. Damn, I thought, almost made it through this bake without any cake trauma....
So I began the Classic Buttercream recipe. As I was making coffee buttercream, I dissolved a couple of tablespoons of Megdalia D'Oro instant espresso powder (where's my check for product placement?) in a teaspoon of boiling water. A teaspoon? I think RLB must have meant a tablespoon because the paste got really stiff...and...I probably should have covered it in plastic wrap too.
Anyway, here it comes, the REAL cake trauma:
I set up my little digital thermometer to alert me when the syrup's temperature reached 237 degrees, for at that point I was to immediately transfer the syrup to a greased pryrex measuring cup which was placed right next to my boiling pot in order to stop the cook and keep the syrup from reaching the hard ball stage. I added in my sugar and water, turned the burner on high, and began beating up the 5,000 egg yolks. I glanced at the sugar syrup, I glanced at the thermometer readout, and began to clean up some of my mess. Another glance at the readout a few minutes later said the syrup had cooled down a bit...enh?? A little bit later the thermometer was beeping and the temperature was already at 242--yikes! I quickly poured the syrup into the glass, scraped out the pot and began to alternate between adding incremental bits of syrup and mixing furiously to keep the eggs from cooking. After a few rounds I noticed something peculiar was forming at the bottom of the bowl. "Kathunk," said my KitchenAid, "kathunk." There was this growing chunk of syrup at the bottom of the bowl. "Crap," said I. "Kathunk kathunk kathunk," said my KitchenAid. "Shit crap damn no!" "Kathunk kachunk karunch."
My roommate, who has been the unfortunate spectator of countless ECL cake tantrums, coolly glanced over and said, "huh." She mumbled something about "do-over" to which I replied: "I don't have time for this shit damn crap fuck! Shit shit shit." "Kathunk karunch kerackle kachunk," my KitchenAid replied sympathetically. It sent out a little splatter of egg yolky-syrupy stuff which hit my face and stuck in my hair.
Luckily for everyone, especially my roommate, I was really too exhausted to work myself into a good tantrum. In desperation I just dumped the rest of the syrup into the bowl and ramped up the mixer.
And lo, that seemed to do the trick. The karunching and kerackling started to mellow out, the hard chunk of syrup began to chunk up, or soften up, or dissolve, or something, and with a good long beating that yolky stuff seemed to sort itself out.
I added in the butter and soon the mixing bowl held an almost silky smooth buttery frosting. It was a little more buttery and a little less sweet than usual, as well as a little bit chunkier. Little sugar crunchies sparkled in my frosting like diamonds. Hey, who needs toffee crunchies when you can have sugar crunchies?
The cake assembly went pretty smoothly, hahaha nice pun. (You do realise I'm a little delirious, don't you??)
Everyone, please take a moment for the Jellos for giving me a rotating cake stand for Christmas last year. You kids are my favorites. Don't tell everyone else.
I did end up using Heath Bar Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch in the filling for one of the layers (why not both? not sure) and to decorate the top. Apparently they were tasteless as many people asked me, "hey what were the crunchy things?" And I would answer, "heath bar crunch," and not mention the sugar syrup mishap at all. They were on a need-to-know basis, and they didn't need to know.
Many fun people showed up to celebrate thirteen months of Eat My Cake and the introduction of ECL to the internet. We had coffee drinks, red wine, cake and ice cream, and the highlight of my evening, baby-holding! My roommate, who is a celiac and can't Eat My Cake even if she wanted to, baked up a couple of experimental gluten-free, agave sweetened cakes which people were curious to try. I have not tried them yet as I have fuzzy teeth and a high glucose count as it is. I am saving her cakes for breakfast. Heck yeah.
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