Monday, November 21, 2011

Bernachon Palet d'Or

This cake is the one on the cover of the book; a single layer, richly chocolaty cake enrobed in the shiny lacquer glaze and fancied up with currants and edible gold leaf. The recipe for the Bernachon Palet d'Or takes up several pages and looks daunting, but I assure you there are only three components and all of them are easy. If you love chocolate then you need to make this cake.

Bernachon Palet d'Or

November 21, 2011
Name of Cake: Ta-Da!
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: one 9 inch layer sour cream chocolate cake, frosted with creme fraiche ganache, glazed with lacquer glaze and decorated with currants

The cake, made with sour cream and a good amount of butter, is baked in the familiar two-stage method. Instead of blooming the cocoa powder in boiling water, it is mixed in with the sour cream and eggs. Half of that is added to the dry ingredients and butter which are beat for 90 seconds. The rest of the sour cream stuff is added in two parts. The resulting batter is so thick and rich that had I not known better, I would have thought it was a bowlful of chocolate buttercream. This gets baked for about 30 minutes.

Bernachon Palet d'Or

The ganache is made with creme fraiche, a little bit of heavy cream, and a couple of tablespoons of butter. There is the option to make the sour cream ganache, but I thought I'd try the creme fraiche version. It is not quite as tangy as the sour cream ganache but just as velvety. I made the ganache the old fashioned way, by chopping up the chocolate very finely and pouring the scalded dairy products over.

Bernachon Palet d'Or

After the cake is frosted with the ganache and all surfaces smoothed out, it is time to make and glaze the cake. The glaze is easy to make and it is always fun to pour it over the cake. I decided to do two coats, as I missed a couple of spot on the sides and it was just fun to do. It take several hours for the glaze to set, but since my kitchen is quite cold this time of year it didn't take nearly as long. I had frozen some red currants over the summer in anticipation of this cake so I defrosted some for this photo session.

Bernachon Palet d'Or

This is a wonderfully decadent cake. The cake itself melts in your mouth it is so tender, and the rich ganache and bittersweet ganache are excellent components. I think I will need a little vanilla ice cream and a cup of tea to accompany my slice of cake, which is never a bad idea. I like that it is pretty easy to put together and yet is a show-stopper of a dessert.

Bernachon Palet d'Or

It is quite dark this time of year in the PNW; not only does the sun set around 4:30 but the skies are laden with dark gray clouds. Check out how dark my living room was by 4:00!

Bernachon Palet d'Or

Anyway I brought that up because I had fun photographing this cake, on that glass plate, with my limited light.

Bernachon Palet d'Or

Bernachon Palet d'Or

Bernachon Palet d'Or

Bernachon Palet d'Or

I almost forgot! Here's Marie's Bernachon Palet d'Or from the original bakethrough, and the Last Cake, Next Cake roundup of participants.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Baby Lemon Cheesecake, and a bonus cake

The Baby Lemon Cheesecakes are everything you'd expect a Rose cheesecake to be: creamy, soft, lemony, and absolutely delicious. Rose's cheesecakes have unanimously won over cheesecake-haters, which really is all that needs to be said.

(Baby) Lemon Cheesecake

November 9, 2011
Name of Cake: A Cheesecake Everyone Will Love
Occasion:HCB
Constituents: a cheesecake, atop a sponge cake layer and topped with lemon curd

I am the opposite kind of baker from Jenn. While she makes cute, delicious, mini versions of RHC, I like to mash all the individual portions together and make one large cake. The Coffee Chiffonlets became a Coffee Chiffon cake, the Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes became one 8-inch cake, and the Barcelona Brownie Bars became an 8x8 pan. So for my last project in the Babycakes Chapter of RHC, I decided to make one 6x2-inch cheesecake instead of 12 mini cakes. Much better.

I added up the total amount of batter and it comes out to 26.4 ounces, which was just perfect for a 6x2 inch cake. I forgot to take the sponge cake layer into account so I had about 1/4 cup of batter that wouldn't fit. I baked that separately and ate it as a midnight snack.

(Baby) Lemon Cheesecake

The first step in this cheesecake is to make the sponge cake layer. The recipe is attached to the Caramel Apple Charlotte, and to me it is a very confusing recipe. I had to re-write it, Cliffs Notes style, to make sense of it:

(Baby) Lemon Cheesecake, biscuit recipe cliff notes

(I did something similar when baking the Chocolate Apricot Roll.)

After cutting out a round to fit in the bottom of your pan (or cupcake molds, if you are making the individual cakes), it is time to make the cheesecake batter. Mixing up a cheesecake is so dead simple I keep thinking I've missed a step; in fact, Rose spells it out in only four sentences. There is no other cake in this book that only takes four sentences to tell you how to mix it up. The cream cheese and sugar are creamed in the mixer, then the eggs are added, then the lemon juice and salt. Lastly the sour cream, or in my case full-fat yogurt, is beat in. Like all of Rose's cheesecakes, there's more sour cream/yogurt than cream cheese which is probably why it comes out so creamy and light. One of these days I'd like to use full-fat greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute. (Or have I already?)

The cheesecake gets baked in a water bath until the insides register 160°F. I have made cheesecake soup, so I really like having the internal temperature to go off of now. Unfortunately I can't recall how long it took to bake the cheesecake as I was baking by temperature. It took more than 30 minutes but less than 45.

(Baby) Lemon Cheesecake

The cheesecake will still jiggle in the middle but all is well. The cake gets wrapped up and refrigerated for at least an hour before the curd is applied, and gets another 2 hours afterwards. Since I made a larger cake I chose to refrigerate it overnight before serving, just in case. I also unmolded the cheesecake before adding the lemon curd.

For the lemon curd, I already had some homemade curd leftover from January of 2011, plus I also had an open jar of store bought curd from a different previous project (the Lemon Meringue Cake). I was able to use up all the homemade and most of the store bought for the topping. The curd needed to be hot to pour over the cheesecakes, so I cooked it over low heat, stirring constantly until hot and pourable. Once the curd is on the cake it goes back in the refrigerator for at least two hours to firm up.

Like I said, this cheesecake is everything you'd expect from Rose: creamy, light, rich, and not too sweet. The lemon curd pairs perfectly with the cake. The sponge cake is lost amongst the cheesecake, but it does make a nice presentation. My cheesecake was quite wet--from using yogurt instead of sour cream maybe?--and the sponge cake layer did a nice job soaking up the liquid. Honestly, I'd prefer the classic cookie crust, be it graham or gingersnap.

bonus chocolate-raspberry roulade

I turned the extra sponge cake (I needed less than a quarter for the cheesecake) into a bonus roulade using leftover ingredients from other cakes. I defrosted the 1/4 cup of caramel ganache leftover from the Big German Chocolate Cake, I used up the last of the raspberry puree from the Moist Chocolate Raspberry Ganache, and the last of the raspberry whipped cream from the Almond Shamah Chiffon. I love raspberries and chocolate so this is a nice little extra cake to have around.

Here's Marie's Baby Lemon Cheesecakes from the original bake-through, of which she made proper individual portions, and right before her daughter's wedding! Lady, where did you find the time?
The Last, Cake, Next Cake round-up for these cakes includes lots of variations; worth checking out!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Almond Shamah Chiffon

A lovely and light cake with the warm flavor of toasted almonds and paired with a simple raspberry jam whipped cream. Although this dessert would seem more appropriate in the spring, the toasty nuts make this just as good for a crisp fall day. And as I have said elsewhere, pink frosting makes everything cheery.

Almond Shamah Chiffon
although i just said pink frosting is cheery, i presented you with a photo of pink frosting on a dark gray morning and didn't process it for light, so instead of cheery i see dreary. oh well!

November 1, 2011
Name of Cake: Toasty!
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: two 9 in layers of almond chiffon cake, filled and frosted with raspberry whipped cream

I am fascinated by chiffon cake. Not quite a genoise and too light for a butter cake, chiffon cake straddles the middle between light and spongy, and substantial and rich. This cake, in particular, blurs the boundaries even more by not being rubbery like standard chiffon cakes, baked in layer pans like genoise cakes, and employing ground toasted almonds like a nut cake--or even a financier.

The Almond Shamah Chiffon, named after Rose's former assistant David Shamah, starts with toasting the almonds, then grinding them up in a food processor with the wondra flour and baking soda. The recipe calls for an equal weight of egg whites to yolks, which means you'll be freezing extra whites for a future white cake, or egg white chocolate buttercream, or italian meringue buttercream, or...you get the idea. (A large egg has about 30g egg white to about 19g egg yolk.)

The yolks and half the sugar are whipped up to the ribbon stage, the oil and some warm water and flavorings added, and whipped back up to a frothy mass. The ground nut mixture is sprinkled over the top and set aside while you tend to the egg whites. The egg whites are beat to soft peaks, the other half of the sugar is beat in until stiffish peaks. Then the meringue is folded, in three parts, into the yolky stuff.

Almond Shamah Chiffon

What you get is what Rose describes as a very thick batter.

Almond Shamah Chiffon

This batter fills the pans about 1/3 full and bakes for about 20-30 minutes. The cakes need to be unmolded as soon as they are pulled from the oven and set upright to cool.

In the meantime, I made the sugar syrup for the cake. This is super easy: the sugar and water are combined in a small pot, brought to a boil, covered and pulled from the heat. That's about it. Once the syrup cools, the liqueur can be added. The original recipe called for Amaretto, but I choose to go with something I already had in my pantry: Tuaca. This is a lightly citrusy/vanilla liqueur and I thought both the citrus and the vanilla would go well with the almondy cake, as well as the raspberry frosting. To be honest, in the final product I can't really taste it. (However it hasn't been 24 hours yet, maybe by tomorrow it will be more boozy?)

Almond Shamah Chiffon

Once the cakes are cooled, the top and bottom crusts are removed and the syrup painted on. Then was time frosting time. The frosting was just about as easy to make as the sugar syrup. Heavy cream is whipped until beater marks leave traces, then the raspberry jam is added in, and the whole thing whipped to stiffish peaks. I had homemade raspberry jam left over from when I made it for Coleen's big birthday cake last December, and was happy to use it up.

Whipped cream frostings apply to cakes very easily and so filling and frosting were a breeze. The cake needs about 24 refrigerated hours to set up and let the flavors sort themselves out. After about nine hours I decided it was time to try a slice. It was delicious. The cake is soft, but it still has tooth. The toasted almonds and the raspberry jam play off each other in a way not unsimilar to peanut butter and jelly. A simple cake, with lots of delicious flavor that could be dressed up for a dinner party or left casual for tea time (or breakfast).

Almond Shamah Chiffon

Almond Shamah Chiffon

ETA: Here's Marie's Almond Shamah Chiffon, which she took the day off work to bake. Apparently not a lot of bakers made it through to the Last Cake, Next Cake round-up, but Vicki was named featured baker.