Monday, July 30, 2007

Pretty in Pink - Daring Bakers July Challenge



The July Daring Bakers Challenge was organised by Peabody of Culinary Concotions fame, who chose Strawberry Mirror Cake.

A colleague recently left her job to move back to her hometown and during the time we worked together she became a good friend to me. I wanted to make something special for her farewell morning tea and I thought that the mirror cake would be perfect for her since one of her favourite colours is pink.

It’s winter in New Zealand right now so the only strawberries in the stores are imported from the US. I couldn’t find frozen strawberries so as per the allowable ingredient deviations I opted to make a raspberry mirror cake. Wouldn’t you know it on the day I chose to make the cake I went to the supermarket for some fresh cream and saw Australian strawberries at a very reasonable $3.95 per punnet. I chose to stick with the raspberries because I needed to free up the space in my freezer.

I have come to the conclusion that the degree of difficulty of a Daring Bakers challenge should be measured by the number of bowls you dirty during the process. Mirror cake is certainly up there with the best of them. I dirtied 2 bowls for my Genoise sponge, 1 for the syrup, 3 for the Bavarian Cream and another for the mirror – total bowls used = 7 and let’s not count the saucepans.

Getting started....

What went wrong along the way and what would I do differently?

1. I didn’t have a pan suitable for making the sponge so I just used two round cake pans. I think it was a better way of doing it – no wastage.

2. I queried the baking temperature of the sponge because it was hellaciously hot (450 degrees F) and other recipes I’d read were 100 degrees lower. Of course I didn’t query this until I was about the start baking so went with my gut feeling (which turned out to be incorrect) and baked my sponges at the lower temperature. They still turned out OK. A little tip for contact lens wearers – do not be too hasty to peer into the oven or else your contact lenses will feel like they have melted to your eyeballs. I expected them to be all crinkly round the edges when I took them out but I guess they’re made of stronger stuff that I thought.

3. This was really my first attempt at working with gelatin and I had no idea what to expect. The instructions said “Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.” What spongy meant I didn’t really know. The raspberries I used were pureed straight from the freezer and I worried that my gelatin wasn’t going to do it’s first dissolving bit so I scooped off as much as I could without disturbing the puree. The top had gone a bit wrinkly but I wouldn’t have described it as spongy. I thought it would be a good idea if the raspberries were at least at room temperature so I stirred up the stray bits of gelatin and nuked the puree and tried again. Seemed to work OK.

4. When making my Bavarian cream I think I may have been dangerously close to curdling my mix. I blended it with the gelatin mixture but there was no sigh of it being remotely like the texture of softly whipped cream and I panicked and added some more gelatin (previously softened in water of course). When I layered all the components and put the cake in the fridge to set for the allocated 1-2 hours I was not at all surprised to find that my Bavarian layer was a little on the firm side – oops.

5. Unlike my lucky US counterparts I do not have a fridge with an icemaker and one tray of icecubes wasn’t going to go very far so I just used a bowl of cold tap water to cool my Bavarian cream

6. When it came to making the mirror I didn’t have anything to drain my berries through and sorta kinda maybe just a little bit pressed down on them to extract the juice which of course is what gives you a foamy appearance and why the recipe says not to do it! Fortunately, because I had used raspberries and the colour was very dark it wasn’t too noticeable.

7. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have spent $40 on a bottle of booze just to used a couple of tablespoons in this recipe. I don’t think you could taste it. I’m pleased that I hadn’t splashed out and got a slightly more expensive but delicious sounding “raspberricello”.

The verdict – a heck of a lot of faffing about with all the steps involved in creating this masterpiece but I would describe it as gorgeous, impressive, and delicious.

Special thanks to Lis for helping me out with my post this month. You're a doll!

20 comments:

Peabody said...

Well done. Yes, there were many bowls used in the making of this cake!

Ivonne said...

Morven,

I love your equation of dirty bowls to degree of difficulty. Very true! Great job!

Hilda said...

You got a good deal using the raspberries, because I made it with raspberries a week after making my posted version with strawberries, and it was much tastier. Good work on making the cake.

Quellia said...

Nice work Morven!

breadchick said...

Morven, I like your scale of difficulty! This one really was up there wasn't it. Nice work using raspberries.

Tartelette said...

I agree with using raspberries instead. I like it better that way. Beautiful job Morven!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Aaa, no ice cubes here Morven!
Long story short: last year my two ice makers 6 months apart leaked and caused massive damage to our house. Although they are repaired, neither have water going to them. So I put a couple of plastic bottles in the freezer before I needed cold water baths.
While I did enjoy the strawberry, I'm thinking your raspberry looks maybe even better.
Great cake Daring Baker.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh yes you are right on about the clean up to evaluate level of difficulty.

Lis said...

Total droolworthiness, my love! You so kicked this recipes ass! heheee I love the color you got and I'm so glad you got to share it with Jackie. =)

I just read your email, will reply this afternoon.. how is it, we've never met face to face but if we don't correspond every few days I miss you tremendously?!

It's a beautiful cake, you done good, sweetie!

xoxo

Deborah said...

Your cake is beautiful! Yes, my kitchen looked like a war zone with all of the dirty dishes!!

Belinda said...

I'm still completely captivated by the collection of Mirror Cakes I've been reading about from all of the Daring Bakers...and raspberries sound like a heavenly substitution for the (equally heavenly) strawberries.

veron said...

Uh...I think I used more bowls than that. In fact , I should have taken a picture of the chaos I had in the kitchen...the hubby had to wipe up the food coloring on the floor or I would have tracked it everywhere ..he he...
You're raspberry mirror looks gorgeous and delicious indeed!

Elle said...

Oooh you made raspberry...great! I love respberries. It looks more to the purple side than pink, but very pretty and well made. This must be a five whisk recipe...the crepe cake was probably 1/2 a whisk :) ...even though it used plenty of pans and dishes.

Culinarily Curious said...

I'm looking forward to trying this one again with raspberries, and wondering how it would work with cranberries or a cran-raspberry combination.

Thanks for sharing your lessons learned.

Cheryl said...

I tend to clean up my dishes as I go, and yes there were so many. No wonder my nails are not looking good. You did great with your cake!

Inne said...

What a great-looking cake, Morven. I'm sure it tasted way better with the raspberries, I found the strawberry version a bit bland.

Jenny said...

I wish I still worked in a commercial kitchen where I could breeze through a bunch of bowls and wash them at the end. I had to continue washing as I went.

I think I would prefer the raspberry flavor!

Kelly-Jane said...

Your cake looks great, love your presentation on the glass stand :)

Amy said...

Nice job! I love the dark ruby color of the raspberries!

beth in ky said...

Hello! What a lovely cake! I've never seen such a thing, but if I get the time maybe I'll try it.