Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bakesale for Japan, Saturday April 2!

bakesale for japan

Hello bakers. This coming Saturday there is a nationwide bakesale for Japan being held. The proceeds will go to Peace Winds Japan. The baked goods will be donated by professionals and amateurs alike. Last year the same organization raised $23,000 for Haiti, and it looks like this year's bakesale will be even bigger.

This map shows participating bakesale locations, but I don't think it is too late to join in if nothing is going on near you.

There are so many disasters and causes out there to support. It's not like Haiti is back to normal, or the many countries in Africa are sorted out, or even as if the poverty in our own country has been addressed.

However, this is one small thing to do, and it will be delicious. And then after Saturday, maybe our nation of intrepid bakers will continue to reach out and give in such a united effort. The whole world is our backyard!

Locally, Portland will be hosting the bakesale in two locations on Saturday: Ristretto Roasters at 3808 N Williams Ave, and BARISTA at 539 NW 13th Ave. The sale is from 10am to 2pm, and it looks like lots of yummy bakers will be donating baked delights, including myself. Show up! Treat yourself!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

I used to dislike chiffon cakes as the texture often was rubbery instead of spongy. In 2005, I tried Rose's Lemon Chiffon Cake in The Cake Bible, and everything I thought I know about chiffon cake was turned on it's head, and rightfully so.

Chiffon cakes tend to be baked in a tube pan so that the middle can get some support and heat. This cake is baked in a springform pan to create a typical layer cake look, and so requires a flower nail to stand in for the center tube. Fascinating!

March 26, 2011
Name of cake: Spongy Orangness
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: an orange sponge cake

So I'm sure I could look this up, but let's just wonder for a moment here. A genoise is a cake that is leavened entirely by eggs, has fat in the form of yolks and butter, is baked in a layer cake pan, and needs to be unmolded right away to prevent the cake from collapsing in itself . An angel food cake is leavened entirely by eggs but has no fat, and is generally baked in a tube pan but can also be made into cupcakes. It needs to be cooled upside down to prevent the cake from collapsing in in itself. A chiffon cake is like a a crazy hybrid: it has a little leavening, fat in the form of yolks and oil, but also relies on well-whipped eggs, needs a tube pan for support and heat distribution (probably to set the egg structure so the cake doesn't fall), and needs to be cooled upside to prevent the cake from falling in on itself. I would think that a cake made with fat and leavening could be made into a layer cake easy-peasy, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Rose and Woody discovered that using a flower nail to replace the center tube and using a tougher flour (unbleached all-purpose) resulted in a lovely orange sponge cake layer.

I completely glossed over the fact that the recipe called for unbleached AP and just used the BAP that I keep around. Oops!

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)
egg yolks, oil, orange juice and zest

The cake is the same cake component we made for the beloved Bostini. The eggs are separated, and the whites are set aside until they get whipped into a fluffy meringue. The yolks are added to oil, orange juice and zest, and whipped with the flour and sugar until nice and ribbony.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

I used the whisk attachment to fold in the meringue, and scraped it all into my 9 inch springform. My springform has a dark exterior so I turned down the oven by 25 degrees, and put the cake on a silpat-lined baking sheet. I heard that would keep the bottom of the cake from burning, which cakes in this pan usually do. I covered the outside in two layers of cake strips as per instructions, and inserted the flower nail I rescued from my mom's Goodwill pile.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

The cake took the full time to bake, and when it came out of the oven, it had risen past the top of the pan!

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail) do I cool this upside down? In the book, Rose says to let it sit upright until the cake sinks down to the level of the pan before inverting to fully cool. Of course, I forgot all about that step. I wished I had some sort of fancy rigging to prop against the outside of the pan to support it above the cooling rack. But instead, I propped the cake pan inside my angel food pan, hoping that it would give the cake enough air circulation so that it wouldn't fall out of the pan.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)
Bakers of the world: DO NOT DO THIS

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

Well, it was a nice thought. The middle of the cake fell out of the pan, so I pieced it back together for photos. Guess I won't be taking this one to Cookie's work.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

Interestingly, the outside of the cake that stayed in the pan has the characteristic light and fluffiness that I have come the expect from a Rose chiffon cake. The middle, the part that fell, is really moist, slightly rubbery, and a little more dense. However that wonderful orange flavor permeates all parts of the cake, saving it from total disaster.

orange glow chiffon layer cake (fail)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

This is a catch-up cake for me as the Heavenly Cake Bakers took care of this one a week and a half ago. I was up to my eyes in visiting Grant brothers, and although that would seem a perfect time to have a homemade cake handy, them boys are not the biggest chocolate fans. Plus I would rather play with the Grant boys than hole up in the kitchen for a day in order to feed them. So, the cake passed us on by.

the boys at the voodoo
maybe I didn't bake because we were too busy eating the voodoo doughnuts

As any regular reader would know, I am a little obsessed with keeping up with the group so missing two cakes in a row left me a little twitchy. So after baking the vanilla cupcakes (which would have been a hit with the Grant boys but...oh well), I decided I needed to get on it and bust out another cake.

Seeing as my internet moniker is the Evil Cake Lady, and I use a Devil's Food Cake as a descriptor of who I am, it just seemed right that I bake this freakin cake. I mean, if I were to have a signature cake, wouldn't a Devil's Food Cake be it?

devils food cake with midnight ganache

March 21, 2011
Name of Cake: ECL's Cake!
Occasion: HCB catchup
Constituents: two 9 in layers decadent sour cream chocolate cake filled and frosted with midnight ganache (a caramel-dark chocolate ganache). Optional cognac cherries omitted.

This cake is the ideal chocolate-chocolate bomb. For anybody in your life who loves death by chocolate, for anybody who lives a rich fudgy frosting, this is your cake.

devils food cake with midnight ganache

Just look at that ganache! It does take at least six hours to firm up to frosting consistency, but look at how voluptuously it swirled. It was a dream to work with; smooth, thick, luxuriant, and forgiving. I added more frosting, I took away frosting, and at no time did the ganache throw up its hands and start pulling crumbs off the cake, hardening up to chocolate bar stiffness, or curdling into an ugly mess. I keep thinking I have found my favorite frosting in the book but yet again, I think I have found my favorite frosting in the book.

The ganache starts with making a caramel with cream (add it to the caramel in the sink!) and a bit of butter. This looks lovely all on its own and I could have stopped there, but why would I when I can pour the hot caramel over a bowl of chopped 99% chocolate? The caramel ganache also looked lovely and I could have stopped there, but why would I do that when I can add a cocoa powder paste and intensify the chocolate even more? That is the genius of the Midnight Ganache.

devils food cake with midnight ganache

The cake is a creme fraiche or sour cream cake, with both chopped 60% chocolate AND cocoa powder paste, also intensifying the chocolate flavor. I used Felchlin cocoa powder, which is 22-24% cocoa butter and non-alkalized. I think that is why my cake came out so red. The recipe calls for alkalized chocolate. I also subbed full-fat yogurt for the sour cream option because that is what I have. Full-fat yogurt has less fat than sour cream, which has less fat than creme fraiche. I wondered if the decrease in fat would make the cake less tender, which would actually be desirable since Rose found the cake to be a bit too tender. She gives an optional mixing technique on her blog to combat the tenderness, but I didn't do it. I figured with the combination of non-alkalized chocolate (which is more acidic) and full-fat yogurt (which is less fatty) I'd better stick with the usual mixing technique. I didn't find the cake too tender.
devils food cake with midnight ganache

Did I mention yet this cake is made with light muscovado instead of white sugar? That is lovely.

I have no complaints about this cake, except that it is so rich and decadent it needs a dairy accompaniment (hence more calories). Those who like to drink milk, I say pour yourself a tall glass. I chose a couple of scoops of Coconut Bliss and that is a good choice too. If this should be my signature cake, I would embrace it wholeheartedly.

devils food cake with midnight ganache

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yellow Butter Cupcakes

Hello bakers. I fell off the baking wagon two weeks ago, missed two delicious-looking chocolate cakes, and just yesterday got my baking mojo back. The clinic is closed for repairs this coming week so I have plenty of time to bake a couple of chocolate cakes, and an orange chiffon layer cake as well....So I hope.

In the meantime, Free Cake Week is upon us and I decided to do something that would pair well with the tub of white chocolate lemon buttercream leftover from the cake tasting. Looking through my choices, I decided on good ol' yellow butter cupcakes. A nice easy project to ease me back into the rhythm of weekly baking.

yellow butter cupcakes with white chocolate lemon buttercream

March 16, 2011
Name of Cupcakes: Good Ol' Yellow Cupcake Friends
Occasion: HCB, and I need to use up the frosting
Constituents: Sour-cream yellow butter cupcakes frosted with leftover white chocolate lemon buttercream

There is nothing wrong with these cupcakes. They are a little bit dense, springy, tender, and full of flavor. They don't really need any frosting but while you're at it, you might as well. Truth be told I would have preferred a nice fudgy chocolate frosting, as yellow cake and rich chocolate frosting is my favorite cake combination, but the lemon buttercream was a perfectly good second choice.

yellow butter cupcakes with white chocolate lemon buttercream

My only complaint with the recipe, and it has been complained before, is the batter makes 16 cupcakes, when a standard cupcake tin holds 12 cakes. Instead of making four extra cupcakes I made an extra little bundt cake, which I ate while still warm without frosting. Just so I could honestly tell you these cupcakes don't really need frosting.

yellow butter cupcakes with white chocolate lemon buttercream

The cakes are made in the classic two-stage method, and by now I know that method by heart, as I assume all of you do too. I mistakenly set up the crock pot in front of the mixer, so instead I used my hand held. My butter wasn't quite up to room temperature, and although the Kitchen Aid doesn't complain when that is the case my poor hand held mixer started to smell like burning motor parts. Sorry little mixer!

yellow butter cupcakes with white chocolate lemon buttercream

I love that Rose gives the exact weight of each cupcake--50 grams--which means that all the cupcakes were finished baking at the same time, and all of them cooled to nice flat tops even with the cupcake papers. So perfect! The little bundt cake had a bit too much batter as it domed over the top and filled up the hole, but no worries (all perfectly edible).

yellow butter cupcakes with white chocolate lemon buttercream

I know I complain about how cold my apartment is--and it is my fault as I am a heat miser--and it really works against me when I am softening butter or buttercreams. The frosting was hard as a rock even after sitting on the counter for a couple of days. Even after taking the hand mixer to it, the frosting just kind of curdled a bit. I probably should have done the whole remelt-rebeat thing, right? I didn't and the cupcakes got slightly chunky tops.

yellow butter cupcakes with white chocolate lemon buttercream

No matter--even if they look a bit rustic, the taste is pure heaven.