|Miette in San Francisco|
April 11, 20100
Name of Cake: Awfully Frilly for a Tomboy
Constituents: one 7 inch chocolate cake filled and topped with vanilla mousseline buttercream
This cake is supposed to be baked in a 6x3 inch pan, but can also be baked as two 6x2 inch layers. I thought I had a 6x3 inch pan, but what I really had was a 7x3. I decided one extra inch in diameter would be just fine, and got it ready for baking.
The cake is rich and chocolaty, with a texture reminiscent of box cake--a coarse, open crumb that is moist and fudgy, yet better than a box cake as it isn't full of weird chemicals, and was made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Well, almost fresh as it calls for buttermilk and my buttermilk has been happily fermenting away since January. I've had it for so long I can't remember why I bought it in the first place, but that is exactly why I love fermented dairy.
This cake is a little more unusual than most of Rose's chocolate butter cakes. Instead of blooming the cocoa powder in boiling water, chopped 70% chocolate is melted in boiling water. Cocoa powder is also used, which gives the cake that deep chocolate flavor, but it is sifted in with the rest of the dry ingredients.
Mixing this cake is an interesting departure from the two usual ways a butter cake is made. There is the Rose two-stage method of starting with the dry ingredients and adding the butter and liquid first and eggs last, and the more common creaming the butter and sugar then alternating the flour/leavening with the liquid/eggs. The Tomboy method starts with the egg, which is whipped until light in color, and proceeds with emulsifying the oil (in place of butter) and adding the liquid (buttermilk and melted chocolate water). Lastly the dry ingredients are added, and instead of gently mixing in the flour to prevent the cake from getting rubbery as you would think, the whole mixture is brought up to medium-high and mixed for a couple of minutes. The resulting cake had a lovely texture so color me intrigued.
The cake is baked for almost an hour, and when mine came out it had a funky top and was only 1 3/4 inches high. Bummer; I guess that extra inch did make a difference.
About this time I realised I forgot to add the vanilla extract, and that I accidentally used the regular sugar instead of the superfine. Oops! Oh well.
After letting the cake cool, it was time to start the persnickety mousseline buttercream. I have made the Cake Bible's mousseline many times before, and I don't remember it being so problematic. But perhaps I have wiped my memory clean of any mousseline mishaps.
It is important to have the butter and the meringue at about 70F for everything to go smoothly. My butter was hovering around 60F, so I cubed it and shoved it in the still-warm oven. The oven was reading at about 65F so I thought it was perfect fix.
The meringue is an Italian meringue, which means the egg whites are stabilised with a sugar syrup. This went off nicely without me spinning a bunch of sugar onto the edges of the bowl like usual, and there wasn't much crystallized stuff left in the pot. Hooray!
The meringue was hovering around 80F so I refrigerated for 5 minutes and re-took its temperature: 75F. I decided to stick it back in the refrigerator for another 5 minutes which unfortunately brought the temperature down to 65F. The butter by this time, which had been beaten until soft, I had left out on the counter and had dropped down to 62F. Argh! The oven was still a little warm so both mixing bowls were shoved in the oven, and getting impatient, I turned on the oven to warm to get some heat going. Eventually, both were back to 65F which I thought was good--the book says between 65 and 70F.
Let me be the voice of experience and say 65F is too cold, or at least for my kitchen 65F was still too cold for when I added the meringue to the butter and began beating, the curdling only got worse until the mixture watered out. Argh again!
I put the mixing bowl over simmering water, turned on the oven and left the door open to create some ambient heat, and eventually when the butter stuff along the sides of the bowl melted, I resumed beating the mixture. And lo and behold, I finally had a mousseline buttercream. I added an extra 1/4 tsp vanilla extract to the frosting, bringing the total vanilla to 3/4 tsp which I think might be a permanent change.
I piped as best I could after splitting the cake in half and filling. Even though the sun was pretty much over the horizon, I ran the cake outside and snapped a few pictures.
I had a slice last night, and then again this morning. Last night the mousseline was too much--too buttery, too aggressive against the cake. Today, the mousseline mellowed out, the vanilla is present, the texture is silky, and it is a perfect accompaniment to the cake. This just reinforces my feelings that Rose's buttercreams need to stand at room temperature overnight before they are fit to eat.
A delicious cake with an intriguing mixing process, bold in flavor and moist as they come with a silky, buttery, vanilla frosting. This Tomboy is welcome in my house anytime.