Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Miette's Tomboy

When I was staying with my sister in San Francisco to help her out at the birth (and post partum) of my favorite nephew in the world, she told me there was a Miette down the street from her apartment. It wasn't the main store (that one is in the Ferry Building) but we walked down there (slowly--she was very pregnant) to check it out. I was hoping there'd be a Tomboy to sample so that I would have an inkling of what this cake would be like. The store was cute and inviting with a French-pastel kind of feel to it. Lots of jars of hard candy that looked so good you just wanted to reach in and grab some. There was no Tomboy in their bakery case, but we bought a cupcake and a slice of something similar to sample.

at miette in 2009
Miette in San Francisco
 They were good, but dare I say the Tomboy we made for this week's Heavenly Cakes assignment was better? Well, I just did, and I meant it.

April 11, 20100
Name of Cake: Awfully Frilly for a Tomboy
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: one 7 inch chocolate cake filled and topped with vanilla mousseline buttercream

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

Miette's Tomboy

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.

12 comments:

  1. ECL, beautiful! I love your festive patterned piping on top. Glad to know it worked in a 7x3 pan.

    I've been to the Miette in the Ferry Building and got a couple of macarons. The store is very cute! I wish I had tried their Miette - for comparison - though I believe you that Rose's recipe would be better (always seem to be the case).

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  2. ECL, you used the buttermilk from January? It doesn't go bad? Do you store it in the fridge/freezer?

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  3. Gorgeous! I'm glad your buttercream frosting finally came together; looks beautiful in your Miette Tomboy cake. Love your pictures too, YUM!

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  4. Jenn, thanks! Next time I am in SF I would like to try their Tomboy, for comparison's sake. Yes, the buttermilk is from January!, As long as you don't introduce any foreign objects to it, it will just keep happily fermenting away. I had to shake it as it has separated a bit but the carton went back into the fridge for another day. Same with yogurt--but it is harder to keep foreign bodies out of a tub of yogurt.

    Shandy, thanks! There was a moment when I thought about giving up, but I am glad I didn't.

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  5. Your last photo looks so mouthwatering!! I want a slice! Move over Devil's Food Cake, i'm so going to make this next! LOL!

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  6. That's good to know you can keep buttermilk for that long. I love your cake close-up shots!

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  7. Mine had the same funky top baked in the right-sized pan, so don't blame your 7" pan for that part!

    Your piping looks really pretty. Now. I'm wishing I'd tried for a nicer look on mine.

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  8. Absolutely gorgeous, ECL! I love your piping job. It looks like intricate knitting or something! (Or is it the lack of sleep talking here?) :-)

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  9. I just love how you explain the intricacies of Rose's cakes. It looks adorable and makes me wish I'd wrestled a bigger bite away from the baby and kids.

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  10. ECL, your cake looks awesome! That's fascinating about the buttermilk, too. It's frustrating that they only sell it in quart containers, but now I'll know I don't have to throw it out.
    Also, here are my thoughts on the mousseline--the 2 pages of instructions look intimidating, but I just throw it together like your typical Italian meringue and it works just fine. I didn't take its temperature once. Maybe I was having a lucky day....

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  11. OMG that looks good! Fabulous post ECL!
    :)

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  12. faithy, i can't wait to see yours, it will be so beautiful as always.

    Amanda, thanks! Maybe I've just been lucky with the buttermilk, but it is still good (used it this morning)!

    Nancy, good to know the funky top isn't totally my fault! Thanks for liking my piping.

    raiuchka, thanks lady! I'm not too convinced I like the piping but I'm glad it is pleasing to you.

    Vicki, there is always time to bake another cake!

    Sarah, thanks! I found a store that sells buttermilk in pints and even half pints! But of course, that store is nowhere near me. That's totally how I used to make mousseline out of The Cake Bible. Never took a temperature and it always came out fine.

    Allison, thanks! I've totally fallen off the FFWD wagon, and haven't even checked out any of your blogs as I'm sure you noticed. :(

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