Phew! Last week's Heavenly Cake Bakers' project was this gorgeous, delicious, two day project, seven page recipe Apple Caramel Charlotte. I was out of town but there was no way I was going to skip this cake. Especially since Cookie has been bugging me about it since she found out it was coming up.
September 27, 2010
Name of Cake: Cookie's #1 Favorite Fancy Cake. Ever.
Constituents: a biscuit-lined pan filled with apple caramel bavarian cream, topped with poached apples and glazed with an arrowroot-apple glaze
I pretty much cleared my calender for the weekend in order to make this cake. After Cookie and I went to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, where I fell in love with a llama, it was time to get to work.
First up, bake the biscuit.
Eggs, egg yolks, and sugar are beat to the ribbon stage.
Egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks. The little bit of flour is folded into the ribbon and then the meringue.
This is all baked in a sheet pan and, once cooled, cut according to the recipe template.
The strips are spread with a thin layer of apricot jam (or in my case, lekvar from the Chocolate Apricot Roll). An 8-inch round is cut and all the cakes are stuck in the freezer. Eventually, the strips are cut into little stacks, which are lined up on their side around the edge of a 9 inch pan. This is a pain in the ass, because all the strips kept falling down. The cake round is fitted into the bottom, and this is stored in the refrigerator or freezer until the bavarian cream is made.
In the meantime, poach the apples.
The apples poach in a liquid that includes water, sugar, half a vanilla bean, and Calvados or apple brandy. I didn't buy any of that, because a while back friends gave me a little bottle of homemade pear cordial. I thought that would be a good option.
The baker got a little shot, too, and then I went to bed.
Day two was all about the caramel bavarian cream. This is made up of several parts.
Bavarian cream, part one: The whipped cream
I decided that the whipped cream could hang out in the refrigerator until all the components were ready to be combined. So I did that first.
Bavarian cream, part two: The apple caramel custard
This takes three saucepans.
The saucepan on the right is most of the poaching liquid, coming to a boil. The saucepan in the back left are egg yolks. The pan in the front left is sugar and water, waiting to become caramel. The hot poaching liquid is poured into the caramel and after bubbling furiously, is slowly stirred into the egg yolks. This pan of pre-custard is cooked until it thickens. This is strained to sort out the odd cooked egg yolk, and left to cool (oh, somewhere in here gelatin is added, of which I only had 6 grams instead of the called for 10).
The recipe recommends cooling the custard over ice water or in the refrigerator, but I opted to just leave it out on the counter while I made the meringue.
Bavarian cream, part 3: italian meringue
I love italian meringue. Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks are combined with a hot sugar syrup, which makes the meringue glossy and pretty.
At this point the meringue must cool down to about room temperature. After about 20 minutes in the refrigerator, the meringue was ready. The custard had cooled down by this point too. The meringue is folded into the custard, then the whipped cream. This billowy, very delicious cream is poured into the cake form and refrigerated for at least half an hour.
The apples are sliced thin and arranged around the top of the cake like a rose.
A glaze of poaching liquid and arrowroot is made and painted on the apples. It was about now that I noticed I forgot to scrape the vanilla seeds into the poaching liquid. Drat! Had I remembered to do that, the bavarian cream would be dotted with vanilla seeds. I scraped the seeds into the glaze, which gave the rose a speckled look.
Then the cake hangs out in the refrigerator for 8 hours.
Monday morning I had a slice of cake for breakfast. Excellent. Creamy. Caramelly. So soft and light. The apples were a bit too crunchy--I should have poached them longer--but it was a nice contrast in texture. I called Cookie and told her the charlotte was excellent; I promised her I would bring it over later that night.
I must admit that the three of us ate 2/3 of the cake that night. Cookie has declared it her most favorite cake I've made EVER, and that of all the fancy cakes I've baked this is her top pick. She is looking forward to eating it on her birthday.
This was a very involved cake, and very intimidating upon reading the recipe. However, broken down into steps it isn't hard at all, just time consuming. But so, so worth it!