Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cakey Goodness!

So, recently my hub & I have moved house, and let me just say, our new kitchen is SO. SHINY. I adores it, I do, I do! So lately I've actually been doing a bit of cooking; last week, for example, I made not one, not two, but THREE cakes! Not sure why the sudden spurt in cakeish activity; partially because we had a church fundraising auction on Saturday night, so I volunteered to make a cake for that. But also because cakes are FUN, and I haven't done anything fun with baking in a while.

I learned three new techniques in this latest baking escapade, nearly killed my wrist with the amount of beating required, and totally trashed the kitchen. Several times. Good thing my husband loves me.

So, in order of appearance, here are my latest experiments:

1) Buttercream.

I've made buttercream before, but just your average butter-and-icing-sugar variety, not anything fancy or Proper. This time, I decided to try some recipes out of one of the cake books I got back in (I think) February:

I was going to make one of these recipes with the intent of trying the chocolate painting method - more on that at #3 - but for this cake I thought I'd do something different and try the cream-on-cream method.

So I made the cake - supposedly an orange cake, but given I used one lemon, one mandarin and one tangello, I'm calling it a citrus cake; made the filling - orange mousse, YUM; and then the next night spent ONE HOUR - that's right, a whole hour - making the buttercream. Italian meringue buttercream, to be precise. Quite possibly some of the most decadent stuff EVER. Boy, was my wrist sore after all that beating - I used an electric beater, sure, but it took HALF AN HOUR of constant mixing. So you know.

But the results were worth it, I think:

See? Much pretty :o) And it tasted amazing, though in small pieces. Quite rich.

2) Chocolate Collars.

I've seen chocolate collars before, though perhaps not in real life. So when I knew I'd be taking HALF the orange cake for the auction and needed to pair it with another half cake, and of course knew I wanted to do a choc mud cake, the collar seemed like the best idea to jazz up the choc cake. Although I learned many things - like don't do one end significantly before the other so it starts to dry while the rest is sloppy; and don't try to make the collar too tall because if it's still sloppy when you put it upright the chocolate will all run down onto the cake; and don't bother flooding the top of the cake with ganache until the collar is in place - it was fun and it came out well in the end.

The cake is chocolate mud (though slightly undercooked since it cooked weird - see picture - so more like a fudge cake, very yum) filled with homemade cookies and cream, topped with chocolate ganache.

3) Chocolate painting.

This was perhaps the most fun technique I learned. It's exactly what it says: painting with chocolate. For this first experiment I kept it simple and piped bees to top the plum cake with honey buttercream :)

So, thus my exciting week in baking. Yay!

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