Everything about the cake that Peabody had chosen this month had me excited for so many different reasons. The most obvious being that it seems like ages since I have made a mirror cake which is weird in my field since it is a very attractive cake, and has a perfect mix of light vanilla sponge cake and creamy bavarian cream, and travels and keeps well. Thus, having to make it for our challenge was a great way for me to reconnect with an old friend. As I was thinking about writing this very post I figured that you will have the chance to read about its making process, texture and taste and many other blogs (there are over 90 of us), and realized that for me this cake and its whole making experience was centered around friends. Building, sharing and entertaining friendships.
Soon after we were given the challenge, I started preparing for my trip to visit my new best girlfriend, Lisa. That was a big deal: the Queen of Dorkdom herself, co-founder with Ivonne of the Daring Bakers and accomplished Italian chef! Since we had decided to spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, I asked her if there were specific pastry items she wanted me to teach her, like macarons, caramel work and others. I also asked if she wanted to make the challenge cake that weekend. Her answer was "Oh my god, I am so glad you mentioned it. I was about to beg you to help me with it". Folks, although she feels quite nervous about pastry, Lisa rocked that challenge like a pro! I knew her back and feet were killing her we had done so much walking in the heat so I helped with little things like straining the fruit for the puree and juice, measuring little things and washing bowls and cups. Any nervousness about the cake were quickly dissipated, maybe by the fact that I could give her explanation on what the Bavarian should be like, how to decipher a pastry school recipe, giving her tricks like tapping the side of a pan with the back of a knife to get rid of air bubbles and so on. When other Daring Bakers started to ask how long it took to make certain parts of the recipe, I know we were giggling together, although miles away from each other, because we took the entire day and the next morning to make it. See, much like Tanna and Karen did in June with the bagel challenge, we truly shared a great moment of friendship making this one. The high point being when we sat down Sunday evening with her family and shared a great dinner ending with this gorgeous looking cake.
When I got back home, I tackled the cake challenge yet again but this time on a different feeling. I was by myself in the kitchen that Saturday afternoon, and after such a high friendly first time, I felt quite lonely making it. Instead of making one 10 inch cake like the recipe suggested I decided to make 4 individual ones (4 inches wide), kept one for us and brought the remaining three for our weekly cookout with the neighbors. At that point, the cake screamed friendship to me: sharing, laughing, eating…There was not one moment when I was making it that I did not think about Lisa and her family, the laughs and giggles we shared that weekend. Because I went with individual ones, I had quite a bit of cake and cram leftover so I layered them in glasses and we ate cake that week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we are up for that in this house, trust me on that! It is light and refreshing, not too sweet and filling enough in small quantities. I used Lemon Vodka instead of the kirsch and did not use any food coloring as B. is allergic and the strawberries were bright red enough.
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup water
1/3 cups sugar
2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree(1 ½ baskets)
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring
1 ½ pints of strawberries(18 oz)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water
1.Preheat oven to 450F. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan(rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.
2.Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.
3.In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, ad cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks(do not over beat).
4.Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
5.Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch(7 to 10 minutes). Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside. Cake may be frozen at this point.
6.To make soaking syrup: Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.
7.To assemble cake: Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
8.Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets(1 to 2 hours).
9.Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.
10.To serve: Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
1.Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.
2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl' beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Pour hot milk into yolk mixture ans stir with a wooden spoon(it doesn't say so but I would temper the egg mixture first to be safe). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon.(Do not boil or mixture will curdle.) Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
3.White gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.
1.Prepare strawberry juice.
2.Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.
Strawberry JuiceWash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).
Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993
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Thanks Peabody for giving me the chance to share great moments both away and at home while making the challenge! Looking forward to August!