Monday, January 31, 2011

Cradle Cake

This week's Heavenly Cake is magical cake alchemy at its best. A tender, buttermilk yellow cake is baked inside a crispy, nutty dacquoise--something I would never have thought possible. Magic, I tell you!

Cradle Cake

January 30, 2011,
Name of cake: Magic!
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: buttermilk cake, chocolate/pecan dacquiose, frosted with leftover caramel ganche

The original cradle cake won the Pillsbury Bake Off in 1953, and my hat is off to the ingenious woman who figured out what to do with her leftover egg whites (or leftover egg yolks, as the case may be). The cake batter calls for egg yolks plus buttermilk and all the usual cake suspects, and the egg whites are used to make the dacquoise.

A dacquoise is a meringue to which nuts and possibly other stuff has been added--in this case unsweetened chocolate and toasted pecans. I love dacquoise because it isn't all sweet and cloying like a regular meringue, yes still retains that crisp/chewy texture that meringue is famous for.

Cradle Cake

By the way, I've decided eggs are my most favorite food, simply because of all the amazing ways they can be manipulated into such widely varied textures. I scrambled an egg for breakfast and then a few hours later I was looking at a bowl of glossy white meringue peaks and marveled that they were originally the same thing. Plus--when fertile and left alone, they sustain and grow babies. Freaking amazing. Eggs, you rock.

Cradle Cake

To these glossy white peaks the ground toasty nuts, chocolate and a little bit of sugar is folded in, and then spread along the inside of the baking pan. I have a couple different loaf pans, neither the size Rose recommends for this recipe, but I chose the smaller of the two pans because it had a nonstick surface. I was having a hard time believing the dacquoise was going to come out of the pan so I hoped going nonstick would hedge my bet.

I didn't use all the dacquoise since the pan was smaller, and I didn't want a very thick layer of dacquoise. I figured the thinner the layer, the crisper it would turn out to be. The little bit I didn't use I spread at the bottom of this little mini cake pan I have and baked alongside the cake. It got a bit burnt, but it was still edible, and pretty good.

Cradle Cake

The buttermilk cake is the usual two-stage butter cake, and is spread gingerly over the dacquoise. The dacquoise looked like it kept slipping down the sides of the pan--was that because the pan was nonstick? Or was the meringue not stiff enough? Before I scraped the cake into the pan I re-spread the dacquoise up the sides.

The cake batter sat primly on top of the meringue like oil on top of water, which fascinated me. I also wondered if maybe I didn't measure something properly as it looked like there wasn't enough cake batter.

Cradle Cake

After about 45 minutes, the cake was baked and looked like this:

Cradle Cake

Magic!

After cooling in the pan for an unusually long time (20 minutes), I nervously unmolded the cake. It actually came out pretty much in one piece, but one corner of the dacquoise did fall off. Still, I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. Well, I thought the top looked ugly, but that was easily taken care of.

Cradle Cake

Look what I found in my freezer!

Cradle Cake

It was still delicious, and after a little re-beating to fluff out and soften, the ganache was good as new and just enough to hide the top of the cake.

Ah, much better.

Cradle Cake

The cake is ridiculously tender and melts in your mouth, while the dacquoise retains its classic crisp/chewy texture. The bitter, toasty, nutty dacquoise is nice next to the mellow cake, and the caramel ganache is awesome. I don't really think the cake needs frosting to be enjoyable, but I'm not complaining.

Cradle Cake

18 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My meringue kept sliding down the side too, but your cake came out much nicer than mine. We ate it anyway. :D The ganche looks lucious!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Like you and Lois and Lola, my first meringue keep falling off the side as well... The second time I whipped that egg white to STIFF PEEKS... those suckers were not going to fall off if I had a say so.. and on the second tried they stayed put!

    Beautiful... and love your egg comments... made me giggle like a school girl with a secret (I'm at work!).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh does this sound good with the caramel ganache!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lois, I wonder why some cakes fell but others didn't? However it seems all the fallen cakes were still yummy, so it wasn't a total bust.

    Monica, eggs are awesome! I must not have had stiff peaks but only one corner fell off and that part has been eaten by now...so no harm done.

    Vicki, I thought the caramel would play nicely with the dacquoise, and it does!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yours looks perfect; with and without the ganache. I wish there was a good way to cut neat slices without having the dacquoise crack and crumble. But then again, all those crumbs are easily picked up with my fingers :o)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hanaa, it is a little tricky to cut, I agree. I've taken to gently sawing the cake with a serrated knife and that seems to work pretty well. And then I pick up the crumbs with my fingers too :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ooo, I love when the freezer offers up such yummy surprises. Nice job with your cake - I might have to make this one.

    :)
    ButterYum

    ReplyDelete
  9. This was a delicious cake. Your lovely friend Lisa shared a piece with me and it was amazing!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Looks so good! I love that you frosted it too! I still haven't had the chance to bake this...! I have to find time!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wanted to leave a comment yesterday but couldn't access this page - for some reason.

    Your cake looks beautiful ECL. It's awesome that you use leftover ganache and the ganache looks great (no curdling!!!).

    To answer your question, I used 2 different plates for my cake, both from Crate & Barrel. The small one (with just 1 heart cake on it) is called "Wink plate" (go figure). The bigger one (2 cakes on it) are egg shaped. Both are still carried in the store.

    ReplyDelete
  12. ButterYum, me too! The freezer is like a treasure chest sometimes. I think you might like the cake, plus I would love to see how you decorate it.

    Megan, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the cake!

    faithy, you have been so busy, but you've been making such amazing cakes!

    Jenn, oh no, I can still find that egg plate? That is very tempting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes you can and it's not expensive either!!

    http://www.crateandbarrel.com/dining-and-entertaining/appetizer-and-dessert-plates/pinch-appetizer-plate/s527002

    ReplyDelete
  14. ooh, this cake sounds brilliant! who knew you could bake a butter cake inside meringue? I have to make a dessert thursday, and I think I'll do this one.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jenn, thanks!

    Amanda, I know, who knew? Report back after you make it!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh my! That looks so great. Now I want it for my birthday.

    ReplyDelete
  17. It really does look moist. I haven't heard of this cake before Rose put a recipe for it in her book. Where have I been?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ronda, this would make for an unusual, yet delicious birthday cake.

    Melinda, I hadn't heard of it either! What kind of mad genius comes up with a cake like this?

    ReplyDelete