So much baking, so little blogging. I did bake the chocolate butter cupcakes last week. And the German Chocolate Cake. But nary a word nor photo hit this blog. I have some catching up to do. Like a poor inventory manager, I will adopt the LIFO approach to blogging. In all honesty, I can barely remember the finer details of making this cake, let alone cupcakes and chocolate cake from over a week ago.
First off - mis en place. Actually, this was the mis en place photo I took for the Chocolate Butter Cupcakes - strangely, the mis en place is exactly the same for this cake also.
I know, I embarrass my self constantly on this blog. I am hoping that the sharp intake of breath around the world will give me the impetus to sort out my "pantry". Yes, that is the extent of my food pantry. Massive isn't it? For scale, that is a 5lb bag of flour and the smallest jar ever of skippy peanut butter. It can barely contain the eight varieties of chocolate, six different grades of sugar and countless experimental purchases of flours of differing proteins and packaging. I must confess that I have a separate cupboard for oils and spices.
Enough shame, onto cake. I was a bit dubious about this cake. Back when I was less of a juggler, I watched three professionals tear apart amateur cooks in a show called Britains Best Dish. Can I tell you how annoyed I am that the link doesn't explain the concept of the show - just gives you recipes!?! In a nutshell the show pits amateur chefs against each other, course by course. To cut an extremely long story short (even I am bored by this paragraph), they rabbited on and on about how the pairing of strawberry and dark chocolate is akin to crimes against human taste buds. But you know what? I might just go on that show and teach them a thing or two about strawberries and dark chocolate. I am here to say that they can work. And here is how.
First make a white chocolate egg white & butter cake. Which is actually pretty simple. The tricky bit is baking them for exactly the right amount of time. I got one right. One just the far side of right. There has to be some law of physics driving the last three minutes of cake baking. From toothpick pulling out wet to toothpick coming out dry from a rapidly shrinking cake is about three minutes - less than 10% of the entire baking time. Will have to get the husband onto that calculation. I followed Vicki's tip and depanned the cakes immediately - I think this helped alot actually.
I am very short in photos this week. The other HCB'ers have fab photos, so if you want to see the entire process click around.
Like Marie, I was astounded by the mousseline. Before the HCB group, I hardly ever iced my cakes - primarily because I don't like super sweet, grainy icing, and secondly because I am at my core, a lazy person with a morbid dislike of sifting icing sugar. But now? Now I didn't even think twice about making this mousseline. Whipped egg whites, beaten butter, a candied sugar syrup, strawberry jam (no I didn't sieve it and I lived to tell the tale) all at just the right temperature and mixed in just so? Not even phased. I think that cavalier attitude worked in my favour, because this mousseline was amazing. A doddle in fact. Assuming you have a thermometer, some scales, two mixers, a perfectly temperate room and said cavalier attitude. Just look at it - doesn't it look amazing? Not bubbly or split or anything. Just creamy pink tinged perfection.
The next step is to split the cakes and fill them. Rose instructs a cake, mousseline then jam on the top. That sounded tricky, so I decided on cake, then spread on the jam then the mousseline on top of that. Much easier to spread jam on a dry surface than a soft creamy fluffy surface. But then I guess a pike dive is much easier than a triple somersault with double pike - so I guess I lose points for complexity?
I definitely also lose points for misplaced mis en place. I was retrieving something (vanilla extract I think?) from my oil/spice cupboard and something happened to topple out midst cake composition.
I can tell you that this cake is very robust. You can drop a bottle of balsamic vinegar from height and it will do no damage. I like to think that the strawberries were calling to the balsamic, like a siren. Then you just keep layering until you run out of cake. You don't have to drop the bottle of balsamic on each layer - but whatever works for you.
The biggest tip I have for this cake is do not, under any circumstances be tempted to smooth that leftover stunning mousseline around the outside of your cake. If you do, you may end up with less than attractive sides to your cake... The glaze of dark chocolate (and in my case) golden syrup and vanilla essence is relatively warm when it goes on the cake. Relatively warm chocolate glaze onto light as air mousseline means that things end up looking a bit smeared.
The next biggest tip I have is to have Rose or Woody come around to your place to put this top dressing on your cake. What a flipping palaver. Cavalier attitude be buggered. I am not sure what you need to do to get the gorgeous swirls a la Rose. That glaze is sticky (as my grandmother used to say). Touch it at your peril. I swear it could trap stray animals. I could barely extract the cake from beneath its foil cage. I poured mine on (without protective wax strips in place) and then just had to cut the cake from its chocolate feet.
This cake was a hit. The cake was light and fluffy and perfect, the mousseline perfect, the chocolate glaze (sticky as it was) rounded out a fantastic trifecta. This is the perfect way to eat strawberries, cream and chocolate.
My little assistant was particularly keen on this cake. Even before it was dressed, he was reaching into the cutlery drawer to find forks which were then used in attempt at self service. I will definitely be making this again. I can imagine finely sliced strawberries replacing the jam. Maybe even strawberries sprinkled with balsamic?
I have also signed up to make a three tier wedding cake for a woman at my work. Am I insane? So far three different flavors to be finalised amongst the contenders in their Strawberries and Cream themed wedding cake (they are getting married in Wimbledon at the end of July) are this cake, the chocolate wedding cake in HCB, banana cake, carrot cake. All with the dreamy creamy white chocolate icing. Then encased in white chocolate cigarillos. At the end of July. Yes, clearly I am insane.