Oct 28, 2009

Last Cake, Next Cake

Not as many people made this cake as made the apple upside-down cake, but most of those who did liked it as much as I did, even Raymond, who tells a funny story about a cake that nearly ruined his childhood: his aunt's dreaded Mazola oil cake. He was afraid he'd end up hating this chiffon cake as much as he hated his aunt's, but he didn't. If you haven't taken a look at his version, you might want to check out how beautifully he decorated it.
Jenn decorated her cake by making a heart-shaped design made out of whole almonds on top of the cake. Very simple, but pretty!
Nicola whipped up her cake while she was packing for a trip to New Zealand--with her 15-month old son! And she doesn't even sound frazzled. The cake looks great.
This week's featured baker is Vicki. I like reading Vicki's blog because, like me, she sometimes feels inept in the world of baking. She couldn't find blanched almonds, so she blanched them herself, which I thought was pretty gutsy. And she nearly forgot to add the almonds and flour, and had to toss them in at the last minute--a mistake I've made myself once or twice. Although her cake turned out just fine, Vicki has volunteered herself to be the tester that Rose really needs: the "unskilled-wanna-be-baker .... The simpleton tester. Like a lab experiment behind one way glass. To see when confusion sets in." This is not a bad idea, although I'm not so sure that Vicki is really the one to do it. I was thinking more of myself, to tell you the truth.

Next week: The Great Pumpkin Cake, just in time for Halloween. This looks like an easy-enough cake. You probably have everything you need to make it in your pantry or refrigerator right now, at least you do if you've been heeding the warnings about the Pumpkin Shortage of 2009. You also need walnut oil, which you may not have on hand. A word of advice: put that walnut oil in the refrigerator after you've used it because it can go rancid pretty quickly.
The frosting looks a lot trickier than the cake. It has three components: a creme anglaise, and Italian meringue, and then the completed "Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream." The only other time I've made a frosting that needs five words to describe it is when I made the "Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting." And guess what book that's from?
Then there's the decorating! If you use the pumpkin mold, you can decorate it with marzipan stem, leaves, and tendrils. Although I've never tried to make marzipan leaves and tendrils, I have an uneasy feeling that I'm not going to take to it like a duck to water. If you don't use the pumpkin mold, why bother? This might be a good argument in favor of using some other kind of pan. It looks like the kind of cake that would do very well in a bundt pan or in loaf pans.
Good luck!

Oct 26, 2009

Almond Shamah Chiffon

I loved this cake! And herein is an advantage of deciding to bake every recipe in a book. If I hadn't committed myself to that, I would never have baked this cake. Too putzy, too many steps, too spongy a cake, too cute and pink.... But now I'm thinking that I might want this cake for my birthday cake instead of the passion fruit, which was my previous choice.
It is putzy, though. I took a vacation day to stay home and bake this cake so I could serve it to my investment club. When my friend Teddie asked me why I hadn't been at work, and I told her I'd stayed home to bake a cake, she was astonished. How long did it take? I told her about five hours, counting everything including cooling times. Then she asked me what had taken so long. I told her about toasting and grinding the almonds, sawing off the tops of the cakes, beating the eggs for five minutes, making the Amaretto syrup, etc. She replied, "No normal person would bake this cake! It's way too much trouble!" She might be right. If you're a normal person, stay away from this recipe. I must add that she stopped insulting me after she ate a piece.
No individual step is hard, but there are a fair number of steps. My mom taught me to put all the ingredients out on the counter before I started cooking something. She didn't know, I'm sure, that there was a French name for this common-sense step. Mise en place does sound more chef-y than put the ingredients on the counter.

I couldn't figure out how the almonds were going to work in the sponge cake. Sponge cake is light, ground almonds make a cake dense. How can you have a light, dense cake? Amazingly, that's pretty much what you get. It's so moist and tender, yet it has the slight texture of almonds, which gives the batter )made with egg yolks beaten for five minutes)

and a meringue, some heft.

There are lots of warnings about how fragile and tender the cake layers are, so I held my breath every time I handled them, which was a fair amount of breath-holding.

Some of the five hours it took to make the cake included a run to the liquor store to buy some Amaretto.

My little cache of liquor has quite an amazing number of bottles of expensive things I've bought for one recipe and never used again. In fact, I've bought three different bottles of Calvados on three different occasions for three different recipes. Each time, the bottle has been pushed to the back of the cabinet and I forgot that I already had some. If anyone needs to borrow a quarter-cup of Calvados, I'm your go-to woman.
The syrup is easy enough to make. It just has to cool for a while. Once you denude the cake of its top crust and brush off any crumbs from the bottom crust,

you can happily brush alcoholic syrup on the layers

As I remember from my chocolate-raspberry tiramisu, however, after you do that, the cake becomes very, very fragile and will fall apart when moved. This was not a tragedy with the tiramisu because you could pretend that's how you wanted it. It's hard to pull that off with a layer cake.
I got so nervous I ordered Jim to put the first layer on the cake plate while I closed my eyes.

Meanwhile, I made the raspberry whipped cream.

I still had half a jar of seedless raspberry jam that I'd used for the tiramisu. It seemed like a lot, but was about 40 grams short of what I was supposed to use. Good old Jim offered to run to the grocery store and get more, but I decided it was close enough. I added 40 more grams of cream to make sure I had the correct total amount, and I added a little sugar to make up for the absence of jam. It was perfect.
I adore whipped cream, and I love the idea of using it for frosting. It seems more like you're required to eat it when it's the actual frosting, whereas when it's just a dollop served on the side, you always think that if you were a better person you wouldn't eat it. I always eat it anyway, but I appreciate not being put in that moral conundrum.

My investment club was awed. We'd already gone through a few bottles of wine and decided on a few stock purchases which we bought with money we'd made from selling stocks at a profit, which is not our usual modus operandi. So we were already a cheerful group, and we became even more cheerful when we started eating
this cake.

I don't know why I chose this for an autumn cake. It you were to attach this cake to a season, its pale yellow cake layers and girlishly pink whipped cream would definitely attach it to spring. It would be an adorable cake for a baby shower or for a Mother's Day dinner. On the other hand, it was pretty darned good on a chilly October night.
Joyce: "Divine! This is the best cake I've ever had."
Betty: "Fabulous! The texture is so light you can hardly tell there are almonds in it."
Patty: "The raspberry is nice and tart--I like it that it's not too sweet."
Barbara: "This is a good alternative to chocolate."

* * * * * * * * *
We have another new baker. Lisa, who describes herself as an avid photographer and baker, is joining up. It's a perfect combination of interests for this project, and I'm looking forward to following her blog.

Oct 20, 2009

Last Cake, Next Cake

The apple upside-down cake was a winner! There was a wide variety of apples in use (Cortlands, Honey Crisps, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Cox (from England), and Ginger Gold). There were also a few people who didn't know what kind of apples they had, but everything worked.
The featured baker this week is Sugar Chef. When you look at her blog, you won't be surprised to learn that she's a professional pastry chef. All the Heavenly Bakers turned out lovely cakes, but not all of them are decorated to the nines, as Sugar Chef's is. Her apple pattern is perfect, and she also shows a piece of the cake plated with an amazing-looking icing flower and green leaf. How did you do that? But what can you expect from someone who's won a L'Affaire Chocolat competition and who markets her own homemade peanut brittle?
From the sublime to the very funny, I must also mention Nicola's account of her dinner party disaster wherein she bakes the upside-down cake in a springform pan that is not fully leak-proof. To quote her blog: "Our poor dinner guests had to listen to me witter on about the bloody oven (it is atrocious), while sitting in an ever increasing smoky haze, in the cold (had to get rid of the smoke by opening the door and windows!). They were even more surprised when I started to take photos of the disaster. After all, who would blog about smoking a cake?"
Finally, a little shout-out should go to Raymond, who gamely used his cell phone to take pictures of his upside-down cake because his camera was out of town.

Next week's cake, the Almond Shamah Chiffon, is not on the quick-and-easy list, and that generally means that there are a lot of steps involved. And, being a chiffon, it generally means a lot of eggs are involved. Again, no oddly-shaped cake pans to purchase, although it's time to start thinking about whether you're willing to pop for the pumpkin pan. (Check EBay). There were only five cans of Libby's pumpkin on the shelves of Whole Foods when I last checked, and I took three of them, feeling mildly guilty for being a hoarder. I'm very sorry if I got there before you did and bought up the pumpkin.

Oct 19, 2009

Apple Upside-Down Cake

This is literally the first cake in the book, and you could do worse than choose it to be the first one you make. Everyone likes apple, right? Apples are tasty and all-American, even if this is cake instead of pie. And it's easy, too--#1 on the Quick-and-Easy list. I'm afraid I'm going to work my way through the quick-and-easies and end up where I have five cakes left to bake and they're all killers. But this isn't a killer at all.
It was apple season even in the grocery store; although I didn't get to an apple orchard, there were lots of local apples at Lunds. I was pretty sure I'd end up choosing Honey Crisp, and indeed I did. The Macouns that people from the east coast are so fond of aren't available here. When I was at Martha's Vineyard, I was briefly excited when our host pointed out a big bowl of apples and said that some were Macouns. At last, I thought! I'll be able to see what the fuss is all about. But when I asked her which ones were Macouns, she said she didn't know. I ate an apple, which may or may not have been a Macoun.

Rose even gives instructions on how to most efficiently cut apple slices. She recommends using a melon baller on a halved apple, cutting each half in half, and cutting each quarter into three slices. I couldn't find my melon baller, which is not surprising. What's surprising is that I have a melon baller. Slices or square pieces of melon are just fine with me. So I did it the way my mom taught me.
This recipe requires toasting walnuts, but not rubbing the skins off. I don't know why some recipes demand skinless walnuts and others don't, but that's one of my least favorite steps, so I'm glad that this cake is less fussy than some others I could name.
The apples are sliced and sugared before the batter is made--you can do this up to one and one half hours before making the rest of the cake, and at least a half-hour before, but it doesn't get a "Plan Ahead" label. So you can just try to fill in a few words in the Saturday crossword while the apples are giving up their juices.

The Saturday crossword always makes me feel stupid. I go through the entire puzzle and I'm lucky if I know three or four words. Somehow I almost always end up completing it, but usually not until the afternoon. I hear that there are people who can do even the Saturday crossword in fifteen minutes. I'm glad I don't know any of them.
My nerve failed me a little bit in the next part, where you boil a mixture of the apple juices, brown sugar, and butter until the mixture is "bubbling thickly and deep amber in color."

I was afraid it would burn, and it looked deep amber to me, but if I'd let it boil for just 30 more seconds, I think I would have gotten a deeper caramel flavor.

Are you thinking I should have put the walnuts on first? That's what I thought, but I read the recipe again, looking for the instructions to scatter the walnuts on the sugar mixture. It turns out you don't do that until the cake is done, probably so the walnuts, which have already been toasted, don't get too brown. Jim is on red alert when he sees a bowl of some ingredient that's not been used. Ever since I forgot to add some key ingredient and then blamed Jim for not telling me about it, he's been on the lookout. But he's too polite to say, "You idiot! You forgot to add a key ingredient again!" So he said, "Umm, just wondering....do the walnuts go in the batter or on top?" I said they went on top but not until the cake was done. "You just think I forgot them, don't you?" I said in an accusatory tone. He admitted that was sort of true. But even I realize I can't yell at him for failing to remind him and then yell at him for reminding me. So I didn't yell, or even snarl.
Batter gets plopped on the apples. This is satisfying for some reason.

The cake was done after 35 minutes. When I use the convection setting, I can almost always count on the least recommended time. If I don't use convection, it takes longer. I know I should have a thermometer, but I don't.

The hold-your-breath moment comes when you have to turn the cake upside down and then carefully lift the pan off the cake. You know it's not going to be good when Rose tells you what to do if the apple slices stick to the pan. In fact, a few of them did, but it was nothing to ease them back into place.

When you start breathing again, you can scatter the walnuts on top.

Serving is easy, because it looks pretty either without whipped cream:

or with (mine is just plain whipped cream, not the bourbon whipped cream in the recipe, because I don't like bourbon):

There's a peach upside-down cake variation, which replaces walnuts and vanilla with almonds and almond extract, but peach season is over. I'd like to try it sometime--maybe when I finish this project and can bake something just because I feel like it. I can't really complain about being forced to bake this cake, however; it's a reach, moist sour cream cake with a good appley taste. A lovely dessert for a fall evening.


Doug: "Much better than my mother used to make, but then she wasn't a very good cook." (Talk about damning with faint praise).

Laurel: "The walnuts are critical."

Mary: "I love the apples--what kind are they? The cake is so moist too."

Jan: "I liked it both ways, [with and without whipped cream], but "with" was best."

Jim: "It smelled really good when it was cooking, and it tastes great."

Karen: "I taste a kind of toffeeish flavor. It's really good."

Oct 12, 2009

Last Cake, Next Cake

Everyone loved the Barcelona Brownie Bars, and there was a great deal of ingenuity involved in how to make them. People who didn't have the financier pans, and there were many, used mini-heart shaped pans, mini muffin pans, and a variety of other shapes and sizes. Some omitted the nuts (or wished they had), some did the cherry variation, and one person ingeniously made ghost brownies! I had some serious ganache envy when I looked at some of the other photos, but then reminded myself that it's not a contest.
Our featured blogger today is Kristina (or anitsirK--it took me a while to figure it out), at EatsNDrinks. Kristina used the 8" square pan, cleverly reading Rose's directions so that she knew to 1 1/2 times the recipe. (Coincidentally, Kristina also baked Rose's butter-dipped rolls over the weekend, which was also my other baking project). She did the cherry variation, purchasing a dusty bottle of Cherry Heering for the occasion. She poked ganache holes in the cake, and then (very neatly) added ganache from a pastry bag made from a plastic bag. She had enough ganache left over that she drizzled more on top of the brownies. (There's that ganache envy rearing its ugly head again).
Check out Kristina's version, as well as the brownies made by the other Heavenly Bakers. The list is getting long--we added three more people since the last post.
We already had geographical diversity, and now we have a little gender diversity as well. Raymond at YourJustDesserts discovered a few years ago that he loved cake decorating. He has a picture on his blog of the first wedding cake he made a while back--in his blog, he notes the "amateurish" nature of the cake. Since I am a person who thinks that baking and decorating a wedding cake is as achievable as me flying to the moon, I nearly choked when I read that apology! Raymond is especially interested in getting tips on photography and presentation.
On the other hand, Mendy, over at GreensteinsBakery, admits to being a newbie, although his stuff looks pretty good too. Mendy, who describes himself as "just a Shmo who lives in Brooklyn," bakes only Kosher, and makes the recipes containing dairy in a toaster oven. I'll be interested in watching how he deals with the additional challenges this must present.
Finally, Jana, of SmartCookie, works at John Wiley & Sons, and is actually the person who sent out the copies of Heavenly Cakes to the first ten to sign up. Jana is a baking masochist. She's already a member of Tuesdays with Dorie--and now this! She was a huge help to me in setting up this bake through, and, in fact, is the one who introduced me to the whole concept.

Next week is Apple Upside-Down Cake. I wanted to make this during the heart of apple season, and, at least in Minnesota, that's just where we are. It requires no weird equipment - just a 9" round cake pan - and no weird ingredients (unless you count Muscovado sugar, which is not even a requirement or Maker's Mark Bourbon for the Bourbon Whipped Cream topping). I'll be curious to see what apples people use for this cake: Rose says her favorites are Macoun, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greenings, and Golden Delicious. I think I'll probably use Honey Crisp, unless I can find Sweet Tango, the new University of Minnesota variety which is supposed to be even better than the Honey Crisp.

(How Not to Make) Barcelona Brownie Bars

Every recipe from Heavenly Cakes that requires you to do something ahead of time has a note at the beginning of the recipe called Plan Ahead. After I got the book I went through it and underlined all the "Plan Aheads" so I would be sure not to miss them because I know I'm prone to do just that. And yet, inexplicably, I ignored my clearly underlined "Plan Ahead" that told me to make the ganache at least an hour ahead of time. Dear readers, I hope that none of you do the same thing, because, as you will see, the result is a big chocolate mess in the kitchen and brownies that are less than photo-worthy. Have you ever heard of Dark Restaurants where all the food is served in pitch-black surroundings? No lights, no candles? This is how I plan to serve my brownies. If you want to see what they're supposed to look like, you must look at the picture in the book.

Before you start mixing the batter, you toast some pecans for about seven minutes. One advantage of using pecans over walnuts is that you don't have to try to take the skins off of pecans. I love avoiding that step. I also love pecans.
Next you melt some bittersweet chocolate with butter.

Mixing up the rest of the batter couldn't be easier. It's just add and mix--sugar, eggs, vanilla, cream cheese, cocoa, flour. Then the pecans, and it's ready to spoon into the financier pans.
Here's where everything started falling apart. Jim said, "Are you making the brownies or the ganache?" I said, "The brownies, of course." He said, "What about the instruction to make the ganache plugs one hour ahead if you're using them?" I was dumbstruck. Damn! What could I say? So I claimed to have planned it this way. I believe he was unconvinced.
I also ignored the instruction to use a pastry bag when filling the financier pans, even though I remembered using it last time I made financiers and it was easier. Nevertheless, I decided it was a pain to get my metal pastry bag out of hiding and read the instructions. So I filled the financier pans--quite messily--with a spoon.

I smoothed them out and put them in the oven to bake. Then I turned to the ganache, which was supposed to have been made an hour before I even started.
Again, an easy ganache, but I couldn't buy enough time. I melted some chocolate, heated some cream, and mixed them together.

After a few minutes, the chocolate melted into the cream, but it was still very liquid. I put it in the refrigerator, hoping that it would turn into a spreadable consistency by the time I needed it.
By this time, the brownies were ready to come out of the oven, and to have three small holes punched in each one. I used a wooden chopstick, as recommended. That was fun. I've never poked chopsticks into brownies before.

But the ganache was not spreadable yet. I decided to use it anyway and hope for the best. Then I couldn't remember how to put the pastry bag piping attachment and when I turned the bag upside down, half of the ganache dripped out onto the counter. I shrieked. Then I decided I might as well taste it, so I swooped some up on my finger. Ummm. Very delicious. The deliciousness gave me some hope, even though it was now apparent that the looks of these brownies were going to be decidedly amateurish.

Can you see that I have chocolate all over my hands? You can't see that it's also on my arms and my sweater. The ganache kind of melted into the holes instead of filling them up niciely. I managed to get some more from the bowl and use the bulb baster to fill up some of the holes, but the end result wasn't pretty.

Despite their general lack of attractiveness, they served very well as Jim's birthday cake.

And I didn't make good on my promise to serve the little cakelets without any lighting. After all, you have to have a candle on a birthday cake.
I've cooked enough of Rose's recipes to know that you have to work to screw it up so much that it's inedible. It may not be pretty, but it's probably going to taste okay. In the case of these brownies, the taste was better than okay. I wish that I'd read the recipe ahead of time, and that I'd actually planned ahead on the "Plan ahead" part. But I'm willing to forgive and forget because the brownies are so good--moist and chocolatey, with the unexpected crunch and flavor of pecans and the smoothness of the ganache. Just about a perfect brownie. My guess is that some of you will actually read ahead and do what you're supposed to do. Then you'll have a perfect brownie that also looks perfect.


Sarah: "This texture is perfect, and the ganache totally makes it. The nuts add a lot of flavor and texture."

Jim: "They have a great chocolate flavor. The mixture of textures is wonderful--the crust, the nuts, and the softness of the ganache. I'm glad I took two."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We've added another baker: Rebecca Khair, from www.sugarmother.blogspot.com. She's from Australia, and her cookbook hasn't crossed the Pacific yet, but she'll start baking as soon as she gets her copy.

Oct 5, 2009

Last Cake, Next Cake

"Last Cake, Next Cake" is where we can all talk about any problems or questions we had about the cake we just baked, and answer each other's questions about the next project.
Starting next week, I'd like to feature a blogger every week. If there's a particular cake you want to make, give me a Monday date that works for you, and you'll be featured on that date. Otherwise, I'll just go through the list (featuring someone who baked the cake that week, naturally).

Finally, welcome to Rachelino, a/k/a/ Rachel. She'll be joining us, and baking her first cake in a few weeks.

The Heavenly Cake Bakers came up with some terrific versions of the Hungarian Jancsi Torta. Jenn wanted a smaller version so she divided the recipe in half, using a 6-inch pan, and adding a strip of parchment paper in case it got too tall. (It did).
Nancy B. should get some kind of prize for her determination--she doesn't have her copy of the book yet, so she went to a bookstore and copied the recipe by hand! She served hers with raspberry preserves for the kids and apricot preserves for the adults.
Butter Yum opted for black walnuts because she loves the taste of them--that would never have occurred to me, but she said they were great in the recipe. She has some great photos, too.
Rozanne has a lovely presentation, with artful dollops of raspberry puree. She confessed that she couldn't stop eating it!
Nicola's copy of the book arrived on Saturday--just in time for her to bake the cake! She was also relieved that Rose's version didn't have twelve layers, four fillings, and spun sugar, as apparently some versions do. I'm relieved too.
Faithy made a dynamite-looking chocolate ganache topping. She said she liked its texture better right from the refrigerator.

Next up: Barcelona Brownie Bars. This recipe calls for financier molds, preferably silicone. The silicone molds that are described as "financier molds" (available on amazon.com), are too small.

What you want are the ones that are called "mini cake pans." I can't wait to try these--they're made with pecans, dark chocolate, cocoa, and cream cheese--and filled (optionally) with ganache "plugs." If you don't like nuts, there's also a cherry version.
If you don't have the silicone molds and don't want to get them, I would think you could use mini muffin pans, or madeline pans.
Or maybe you have other ideas.

Hungarian Jancsi Torta

As I started writing about this, I wondered what the heck a Jancsi is. Dear readers, there is an answer to this question, but it's not a what, it's a who. And a romantic tale it is--all about a Gypsy violinist named Rigo Jancsi, who had a scandalous affair with the daughter of an American millionaire. According to the description of the Jancsi torta on wikipedia, Rose's version is not a strictly traditional rendering, because it's supposed to be a two-layer chocolate torte filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate. But this version is quite delicious, and it's my belief that Rigo and Clara would like it even better, if they ever got around to stopping their hanky-panky long enough to test versions of cake.

This is a naturally gluten-free cake, and contains only eggs, chocolate, walnuts, and sugar, plus a little bit of cream and tartar for the egg whites. After making the passion fruit cake, I thought that this one was downright easy, with just a few ingredients and just a few steps.
First, the walnuts are toasted and rubbed in a dish towel to get rid of as much of the skin as possible.

If you wanted to skip any of the steps, you could probably skip the toasting and rubbing steps, but I didn't want to. The only way I could tell if it made a difference would be to bake two cakes at the same time, changing only those two steps. I'm probably not going to do that.
The walnuts and dark chocolate are ground in a food processor. I managed to get my hands on some Valrhona dark chocolate ("powerful and chocolatey").

The ground nuts and chocolate are mixed with part of the sugar and set aside.

The base for the batter consists only of eight egg yolks and about a cup of sugar. It's one of those miraculous transformations that comes from beating the hell out of egg yolks, so they change from bright yellow-orange globules to rich, thick, creamy batter

And then, once you add the walnuts and chocolate, it turns into a rich, creamy spotted batter.

Finally, you beat the egg whites into a meringue. Fortunately, the recipe calls for eight egg yolks and eight egg whites, so there are no leftover egg parts in the refrigerator, reminding you every time you open the door that you are being wasteful.

Meringue is so pretty, isn't it? The meringue is folded into the batter until the batter becomes airy and fluffy.

I have two cake strips wrapped around the springform pan. The pink one is Rose's, made of silicone; the gray one is from the King Arthur catalogue. It has to be soaked in water before using it, and it is inferior to Rose's, but I keep forgetting to order another one.
I sailed through this recipe with no problem at all. But when I poured the batter into the springform pan, it seemed to be an overly-bounteous amount. I checked the recipe. It said, "The batter will fill the pan half full." Hmmm. Well, I could either remove some batter or I could just see what happens. Oh, let's just see what happens, I said to myself.

Yikes! Looks what happens!
Well, I thought, maybe it will sink when I take it out of the oven.

Not so much.
It did sink in the middle eventually, but still had the crown around the edge.

I think my pan (a 9-inch springform pan, as specified) must either have been a little smaller than the standard pan, or the volume of egg whites was too great. Rose does give both weight and volume measurements for eggs, but I didn't bother this time. There seemed to be no harm done, however, although I did let the cake bake for the maximum amount of recommended time.
There are several options for serving the cake: topped with a chocolate ganache (this is the way Rigo and Clara ate it), topped with light whipped ganache, or topped with warmed sour cherry or apricot preserves. I went the sour cherry route, with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Jim volunteered to go to the grocery store for me, and he was very apprehensive about the sour cherry preserves. "What if they don't have sour cherry preserves?" I told him that they would; they'd just be expensive because they had the word "sour" in them. He looked at me like I was making that up, which I sort of was, but it turned out to be true.

He was a little bit grumbly when he came home and announced that this jar of sour cherry preserves cost over three times as much as a jar of Smucker's. But the taste was perfect with the torte--worth every penny.
This cake is one of the more interesting cakes I've made from the book--about as different from an American cake-mix-style cake as it's possible to be and still be in the same genre. It's very light and delicate, but still manages to contain the assertive flavors of chocolates and walnuts withouto being overwhelmed by them. It's the kind of food that want to savor, so you can enjoy all the contrasting flavors and textures. I'm sure it would be good with chocolate ganache too--how could it not be--but try the sour cherry preserves too.


June: "Moist and light. I think the combinations of nuts and chocolate do well to balance the whipped cream. The little bit of texture to the cherries makes it really nice."

David: "I think it was wonderful, but I can't tell you exactly why. The difference in temperatures, the difference in textures--it's got some nice combinations."

Jim: "Very light. I like the little bits of chocolate. This one's a winner."

. . . . . . . .
I'm really looking forward to checking out the blogs to see what other people did with this cake. I spent a few hours Saturday afternoon going through the blogs of the people who have signed up for this bake-through. We have some very talented cooks and bakers! Some have been doing blogs for years; some have just started. Some have baked incredible wedding cakes and teach baking classes; others, like me, have a more amateur status. We're from all over--England, Canada, Georgia, California, Colorado, et al. Welcome to all of you!
I will do another posting mid-week that will primarily be a place for you to ask each other questions, to brainstorm, and to offer advice. See you then.

Oct 1, 2009

Getting Started

Drum roll, please.....
Here is the list of the ten people who get the free copy of Heavenly Cakes because they signed up first.

1. anitsirK www.eatsndrinks.ca

2. Jenn www.knittybaker.blogspot.com

3. Hanaâ http://HanaasKitchen.blogspot.com

4. Nancy B. http://nlbarber.blogspot.com/

5. Sugar Chef www.sugarchef.net

6. Sherrie www.forheavenlycakessake.blogspot.com

7. ButterYum www.butteryum.blogspot.com

8. Rozanne http://heavenlycakesenjoyedonearth.blogspot.com/

9. Nicola www.shebakesthecake.blogspot.com

10. Vicki http://baking-with-granny.blogspot.com/

Could all of you send me your full names and addresses ASAP and I will send them off to the publisher. (Email me at mlwolf2@comcast.net)

Rozanne and Vicki, I don't have blog addresses for you yet, so you will have to get a blog site in order to get the book.

Hanaâ, I mistakenly used your email address for a blog link - I need a blog address from you, too.

I will set up a list of blogs that are doing this project so you can check out each others' blogs. Don't forget to copy one of the widgets to your blog! (Not a requirement, but they look cool).

If I haven't responded to you yet, and you've asked to join, the answer is yes! I'm a little overwhelmed--but very gratified--by the response. Please bear with me until everything's up and running smoothly.