Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Genoise (Rose)

I put the Rose in parenthesis since the cake is named after the rose tube pan (and Rose, the author too I bet!) and I didn't bake my genoise in that pan. If only I knew the name of my tube pan, then I could call it Genoise [insert name of tube pan here].* Oh well. You get the point.

Rose Genoise

June 27, 2010
Name of Cake: A Giant Genoise
Occasion: HCB
Constitutents: Literally, a giant genoise with triple sec syrup.

I may be having not-so-great luck baking butter- and cheese-cakes in my new apartment's oven, but I seem to be having great luck baking genoise cakes. For the first time, in like, ever!

And now, a public service announcement.

For anyone needing proof that egg yolks and egg whites aren't what they used to be, please see the following:

The recipe calls for 5 large eggs, totaling 250 grams. 150 of those grams would be egg whites, and 100 of those grams therefore would be yolks.

Here's how many large egg yolks it took for me to make 100 grams:

Rose Genoise

See that? Six egg yolks. Usually I need about 2/3 more yolk, but this time I needed pretty much a whole extra yolk.

And for egg whites, 6 large egg whites was about 57 grams too much, which is almost equivalent to the weight of two large egg whites (30 grams each).

Rose Genoise

So if you do the math, for the equivalent weight of 5 large eggs, I needed 6 actual large egg yolks and just a little more than 4 actual large egg whites.

Now, this may be just a strange problem with the cage free eggs the various brands around Portland get from their suppliers, but I'm just saying. Take the time, next time you bake, to weigh your yolks and whites and see what you get. I would love to hear your results!

Back to cake.

Beautiful well-beaten eggs and sugar. The recipe says 6 minutes, I let it go for 7 just in case.

Rose Genoise

Ready for the oven.

Rose Genoise

Just out of the oven.

Rose Genoise

I have two things to confess:

1. I have been too cheap to buy more Baker's Joy, so before I moved I made myself a batch of Baker's Grease. Not as poetic as Joy, but Grease has been working pretty darn well. It gives the cakes a nice, shiny, tight crust and releases the cake well. There is a lot more human error however, as the Grease needs to be brushed into the pans. I brushed my bundt pan very liberally which made the cake easy to release, but alas, the very tops of several of the points remained in the cake pan. I'm ok with that.

Just unmolded.

Rose Genoise

2. I didn't have enough cornstarch so I decided to substitute with potato starch flour, of which I have quite a bit. I thought about sweet rice flour, after reading Kate's inspired blog post about starch gelatinazation, but decided to stick close to cornstarch's profile just in case. This also turned out great. No grainy or gritty texture or off flavor, at least not that I or the Jellos noticed. So if you want to bake this genoise but don't have any cornstarch and don't want to go to the store, pull out your potato starch flour and get to it. (Provided you don't have to go to the store to get that either, I guess.)

Another thing I have noticed? If Rose says to let the cake sit for 24 hours, I need to let mine sit for 48 hours to get the same results. Tonight, at 24 hours, the cake was very moist and light and delicious, but tomorrow I bet the cake's moisture will be even more evened out. (Which it is, just a hair.)

And 24 hours later.

Rose Genoise

Cabbage felt this was a nice light alternative to all of our other recent cake adventures. Cookie loves a good sponge cake and loved everything about it. I thought it was a great, light cake that paired well with super ripe strawberries and whipped cream. I'll admit that I am a butter cake, or even better, a butter AND sour cream cake person but this genoise was wonderful. It definitely isn't something I'd eat on it's own, but with whipped cream and farm fresh berries, it is perfect.

Today's breakfast! (We ate all the strawberries last night, had to break into the raspberries.)

Rose Genoise

Also, as much as I am not enamored with my tube pan, it does make for fun photos!

Rose Genoise

* UPDATE: Hey everyone! I found my cake pan online! It is the Wilton Dimensions® Cascade Pan! So I guess this cake would be called the Genoise Wilton Dimensions® Cascade. Hmm. Let's call it the Genoise Cascade for short.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Coconut Cheesecake Pudding with Coconut Cookie Crust

Well, baking friends, this cheesecake turned out to be more like a cheesecake pudding than an actual cheesecake. And when I say pudding I mean like the stuff in a cup that Bill Cosby used to pimp. Which isn't bad, necessarily.

Coconut Cheesecake Fail
don't let this shot fool you!

June 21, 2009
Name of Pudding: Coconut-Cheesecake Pudding
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: Coconut-cookie crust (sorta) with coconut cheesecake filling

So the whole thing was easy to assemble and put together, which is nice so I don't feel like I spent a whole day making a failed cake. With The Cake Bible's cheesecake, it often would come out of the oven looking runny but a good 24 hour rest in the refrigerator always helped. This time, the cheesecake came out of the oven looking very wobbly, but I let it cool in all the various ways it needed cooling and then stuck it the refrigerator for it's overnight rest. The next morning I pulled it out, removed the sides of the springform pan no problem, and then decided to slide it off the springform base and onto a plate. Here's where things got bad. The crust started sliding out from under the filling, leaving the filling on the plate. The filling didn't like this so it started oozing out from the middle and that's when I discovered that this must be the most seriously undercooked cheesecake I have ever made. I eventually blobbed it all onto the plate, and here's how pretty it looked after I added the toasted coconut top:

Coconut Cheesecake Fail

At least it tastes delicious.

This is best served in bowls with spoons. Also, I couldn't find any non-imitation coconut extract that actually had coconut in the ingredients, so I decided to use Malibu rum which was leftover from an island party a few years back. That seemed to work out fine--in fact the cake could have used a little more booze. As could I.

Coconut Cheesecake Fail

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta Tart

It is strawberry time here in Oregon and we've had so much rain up until last Saturday that the strawberry fields have been left alone to grow big, plump, super ripe berries. Luckily, Saturday was a sunny and warm day (the first this season!) and the Jellos (Cookie and Cabbage) invited me to go strawberry picking with them. The farm was situated on a lovely hillside looking west over the Tualatin valley, and the day was gorgeous. We stayed for maybe a couple of hours. I picked for myself 6.75 pounds of strawberries. The Jellos collectively picked 19.25. We paid a dollar per pound. I know! A freaking dollar per pound!

I froze some berries, turned most of them into jam, and then decided to try this tart for the doulas.

Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta tart

June 13, 2010
Name of Tart: Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta Tart
Occasion: Fresh strawberries! And a doula meeting!
Constituents: Short crust filled with cream cheese-ricotta filling, topped with fresh strawberries

strawberry fields

I found the recipe in Rustic Fruit Desserts, and it sounded intriguing. Also, the tart calls for a short crust, which I tend to have more success making than a pastry crust. So, why not?

The short crust is first blind baked in a 10 inch tart pan. I need to remember that dark pans need the oven temperature turned down 25 degrees! My crust burnt a bit around the edges which was sad. But I soldiered on. We could always pick off the crust.

Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta tart

The filling gets mixed together in about 2 minutes. Whole milk ricotta, cream cheese, the seeds from half of a vanilla bean, sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, and salt are mixed together for an indefinite amount of time. I am so used to Rose's detailed instructions that reading "mix together on medium speed" is entirely unsatisfactory. For how long, people? Till mixed, or until light and airy, or for a minute or what? Maybe this filling is pretty forgiving and it doesn't really matter how long everything gets mixed for. Anyway, I let the mixer run for a minute and called it good. Then 2 eggs are added, one at a time, and mixed until blended in. After that, a tablespoon of vanilla extract is blended in and you're done. Pour this creamy delight into the prebaked tart shell and bake for 30 minutes.

Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta tart Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta tart
pre-bake and post-bake

After baking, the tart first cools to room temperature and then is refrigerated for an hour, presumably to firm things up. In the meantime, the strawberries are washed and hulled, and the bigger berries are halved.

I sped up the cooling time, or so I like to believe, by sticking the tart outside to cool. The filling is all puffed and pretty when first pulled from the oven, but as it cools it shrinks a bit down onto itself with only occasional tiny hairline cracks. I will also confess that I did not give it the full hour in the refrigerator that the recipe recommends; this tart got at most 30 minutes with no noticeable bad results. I had doulas to feed, I couldn't wait the full hour!

The strawberries--about 3 pints worth, did I mention that--are supposed to be tossed with a bit of warmed and strained strawberry jam. This does give them a nice juicy glisten, but I decided I didn't want to artificially sweeten these beautiful berries in any way. I picked out a few mushy berries, maybe 1/2 a cup total, and mashed them up in a bowl with a fork. I then pushed this mush through a fine sieve, and voila! Fresh strawberry puree, which I tossed with the berries and gave them that juicy glistening shine without all the extra sugar.

Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta tart

I say this every time I mention them on this blog, but I love my doulas. They dug into this tart, along with all the savory snacks they brought, with the same gusto as they do everything in life. Our midwife and our pregnant post partum doula were seen snacking on this tart with their hands. It was a perfect, light yet fancy summer dessert. The nutmeg gave a little bit of contrasting warmth to the filling, while the super ripe berries got to play center stage. It would be fun one time to omit the nutmeg and go with the more ordinary accompaniment of lemon zest. As burnt as the crust looked on the edges, it didn't taste too bad, at least not to me. This is a great potluck dinner dessert that plays well with others, and can satisfy a pack of lively, courageous, fierce doulas. It would also make an excellent breakfast tart, but all I brought home from the meeting was a dirty tart pan. Oh well, I'll just have to make another!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chocolate Strawberry Cake

When I got my copy of Roses' Heavenly Cakes I was so excited to see this cake in there as it looks so pretty! A local coffee shop/dessert house often has a cake like this which you can buy by the slice, which I have, but their cakes are often mediocre. I looked forward to baking Rose's version and proclaiming it The Winner!

Chocolate Strawberry Cake

June 13, 2010
Name of cake: Chocolate Strawberry Cake
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: 2 layers white chocolate whisper cake, filled with strawberry mousseline, frosted with Miss Irene Thompson's Dark Chocolate Frosting

UPDATE: After 36 hours at an ambient room temperature of 60 deg F, this cake has been transformed!  The gummy cake layers have dried out a bit, and the mousseline!  It is now a silky, fluffy, ethereal layer of strawberry buttercream--not a heavy overly buttery frosting.  Who knew?  Maybe I should hold all mousseline frostings for 36 hours before using.  Miss Irene Thompson's dark chocolate frosting has remained perfectly hot fudgy as always.

I have been using UBAP flour for as many cakes as Rose allows, since it is cheaper than cake flour and I need to cut some costs around here somehow. But I will now confess that the UBAP cakes have not been as light or as tender, nor has the crumb been as perfect, and the middles always seem to sink as well as be a bit gummy. So I think I am firing the UBAP and going back to cake flour, despite the unfavorable difference in cost.

I really wanted these cakes especially to be perfect but of course, being UBAP, they were a bit gummy in the middle and even a bit dense! Hmm, maybe my baking powder is old.

I made The Cake Bible's strawberry mousseline for my 31st birthday and I remembered that it wasn't strawberry enough--I used strawberry jam. This version calls for American Spoon Foods' Strawberry Butter which is a very concentrated thick strawberry jam, and I looked forward to the results. It made an awesomely strawberried buttercream. As I started making the mousseline last night I remembered why I never make mousseline: it is a persnickety frosting that requires frequent temperature taking and I consider it a pain in the ass. It comes out great and buttery and I love watching it go from a curdled mess to smooth loveliness, but it is not my first choice.

The two cake layers are split in half to make a very fancy presentation. One of my cake layers broke as I was lifting it onto the cake, but once you smear it with buttercream and encase it in frosting, no one is the wiser, unless you are looking at the cake from the right angle and notice it is crooked.

Chocolate Strawberry Cake

By the time I had filled and stacked the cake it was midnight and I was tired. I almost considered storing the cake overnight and getting to the frosting in the morning but recalled Raymond's post, and his description of how easy it was to make the frosting inspired me to finish the stupid cake before going to bed. I put on one of the Ricky Gervais/Steven Merchant/Karl Pilkington old XFM shows which kept me laughing as I melted the chocolate and butter. Once the chocolate and butter are all nicely melted a bunch of corn syrup is stirred in as well as a little vanilla and the frosting is complete. No problem!

The frosting is dark and sticky like Rose says, and first off while it is still fluid it is poured over the cake and smoothed out over the sides. Getting this frosting to stick to the sides was tricky as my sides weren't even, so it took a lot of persistent smoothing the frosting drips upwards to get it to minimally coat the sides. Rose instructs to wait about 30 minutes until the rest of the frosting (I took that to mean to not pour all the frosting over the cake and reserved about a cup) was thick enough to spread well but hold swirls. I realised the genius of this is that the swirls cover up the uneven sides of the cake so it generally looked much nicer. I kind of suck at making swirls but did a passable job. I thought it would have been more fun to make spikes in the frosting like Rose did with the Chocolate Spike in The Cake Bible, but thinking it didn't translate into doing it.

And off to bed I went.

This morning, I shared the cake with my friend Coleen. She was impressed by the strong strawberry flavor of the buttercream, and felt that it competed with the chocolate frosting and won. She would have preferred the chocolate to win.

Chocolate Strawberry Cake

I was disappointed by the cake, which was so sad. I wanted to love the fudge out of this cake, but the poor texture of the cakes really brought the whole dessert down. It made the buttercream too buttery and rich, and the chocolate frosting a sad afterthought. I have learned my lesson: cake flour from now on.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Chocolate Butter Cupcakes

There comes a time in every girl's life when she really needs her chocolate fix. Like, when all she is thinking about is chocolate, and when she can get some chocolate, and what kind of chocolate, and in what form of delivery she wants her chocolate, and when this chocolate consumption can take place. You may think she is listening to you talk about your in-laws, or your back pain, or that she is hard at work, but really she is just running through all of her chocolate options and deciding which one she will take advantage of. You may be able to distract her for awhile, or satisfy her temporarily with some other delicious something, but it won't be long before the chocolate cravings begin again. She might try to settle for an easier, cheaper, and less delicious chocolate option, but oftentimes that will only make the chocolate cravings more insistent and cranky. A girl knows better--she has to have her chocolate, the kind she wants, the way she wants it, and RIGHT NOW.

Luckily for me, these chocolate cupcakes were right on schedule.

chocolate butter cupcakes with milk chocolate butter ganache

June 3, 2010
Name of cupcakes: The Fix
Occasion:HCB, and a girl just needs her chocolate
Constituents: Chocolate butter cupcakes frosted with milk chocolate butter ganache

I have baked The Cake Bible's All-American Chocolate Butter Cake countless times since receiving the book back in like, 2003 or whenever that was. It is my go-to chocolate cake recipe--delicious, tender, chocolaty, not too sweet, all the things we love about a Rose cake recipe. So coming back to basically the same recipe I know and love and can make without question the week I needed some freakin chocolate cupcakes NOW, was perfect. Good planning Marie!

chocolate butter cupcakes with milk chocolate butter ganache

These cupcakes are mixed in the classic two-stage method: all the dry ingredients are first whirled together for about 30 seconds to mix and aerate. All the butter and some liquid is next added and beat for 90 seconds to coat the flour and protect against overmixing. Lastly, the eggs and any other liquid are added in a couple of parts and then you're done. You can have cake batter ready to bake in about 2.5 minutes!

Rose has tweaked the recipe ever so slightly--The Cake Bible version tells you to take about 1/3 of the chocolate paste and mix it in with the eggs and vanilla. The rest of the chocolate paste gets beaten in with the butter. The Heavenly Cakes version has you leave all the chocolate paste together and adds a few tablespoons of water to the eggs and vanilla. All the chocolate gets mixed in with the butter. And that's pretty much the difference between the two cakes.

Of course, Rose now gives the option of using BAPF instead of cake flour, which I have taken to doing as BAPF is so much cheaper than cake flour.

chocolate butter cupcakes
cake mise en place
(actually, you only need about 1.5 sticks of butter)

My complaint with the recipe is that it makes 16 cupcakes. Not 12, not 24, but 16.  That's one full cupcake tin, plus another cupcake tin with 4 cupcakes. That made me a little grumpy so I decided to use my silicone cupcake cups and smash all 16 of them on a baking sheet (however only 15 cups fit). I discovered that these cupcake cups must be slightly smaller than the regular paper cups, because the recipe stipulates 50g of batter per cup, which would fill the cup 3/4 full. My cupcake cups were full at 45-47 g of batter, so I ended up making 18 cupcakes total. That made me less grumpy. I baked the 3 that didn't fit on the baking sheet in the toaster oven. If Mendy can, so can I!

chocolate butter cupcakes
from top left: the 16th cupcake was going into the toaster oven, after stage one of mixing, completed batter one minute later, just pulled out of the oven

Putting this batter together took longer than usual, but that was my fault. I blame it on the funk station I put together at Pandora. Is 10 am too early for funk? James Brown doesn't think so.

I've decided I don't really like using those silicone cupcake cups. The cupcakes always end up imperfectly baked, and it is hard to get the darn cupcakes out of the liners for eating. Also, I am having a hard time with my oven. Sometimes it heats to the perfect temperature, but sometimes it is too hot, and sometimes it starts out too hot but then gets too cold. The oven and I are still working things out. For these cupcakes, it remained a little too high, which led to cupcakes that domed a bit early but stayed a little undercooked at the bottom, leading to some sinking once cooled. Sigh. They were still awesome. And frosting covers a multitude of sins.

Speaking of, I decided to dig through my freezer and see what I had stashed. I found a milk chocolate buttercream that I had made in 2008, and I did a search on this blog to find out what I made it for. It was for this:

S'mores Cake

The s'mores cake! That butter"cream" was a big hardened blob of chocolate. I did have to re-melt it to get it into a tub for freezing. And this is what it looked like after it thawed out and came to room temperature:

milk chocolate buttercream

Not so creamy.

I decided to add a bunch of cream to it, kind of ganache-like, and see what happened. It took almost an entire pint of scalded cream to get that buttercream to a frosting consistency, but when it did, it looked very pretty and glossy:

milk chocolate butter ganache

It also had an ENORMOUS amount of butterfat, but don't tell anyone.

I like to frost cupcakes with the back of a spoon, which leaves ample room for liberally applied sprinkles. I have organized all my baking stuff and now have a sprinkles box. To be fair, I also keep all my food coloring in this box, but sprinkles and food coloring box is too much to say. Sprinkles box sounds much more fun!

the sprinkles box

Out of the sprinkles box I chose the little multicolored nonpareils and went to town. After sprinkling about 3/4 of the cupcakes I realised that it could look much more interesting if I heavily sprinkled only part of the cupcake, and so did some experimenting. I think I like the ones with the sprinkles just around the edge the best.

chocolate butter cupcakes with milk chocolate butter ganache

How were the cupcakes and the excessively butterfatted frosting? The cupcakes were like good old chocolate friends: tender, light, chocolaty, not too sweet, and delicious. The frosting was a bit too rich, but still delicious, and I love the crunch of the nonpareils. Cookie called this "the anti-Cookie" as her favorite cake is white-white, but she ate one all the same. Zetta ate all her cupcake but needed me to finish the other half of her frosting, which I did. The frosting is a bit much. I do understand if one needs to get rid of it in order to finish the cake. The cake is, after all, the most important part. But the sprinkles are pretty important too.

chocolate butter cupcakes with milk chocolate butter ganache