Mar 17, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

I think that Rose's butter/sour cream cakes are the ones that get the most universally positive reviews. This pistachio cake drew raves or near raves. Possibly the most negative comment--and it's not even negative--came from Nancy B.,, who said that she liked the cake, although she found it "right on the edge of dry." Several others, like Jenn, praised the cake, but wished the pistachio flavor had been a little more intense.
Most people just served their cakes with the plain frosting sprinkled with chopped or slivered pistachios, as shown in the book, but we also had some creative and beautiful decorating. Faithy, our 90-pound dynamo, had not even planned to bake this cake, but after she read the early reviews, she decided she just had to, and went into high gear, topping the cake off with piping she did in minutes, in order to meet her midnight deadline. Monica, who is addicted to pistachios and was overjoyed when she saw that we were going to bake this cake, turned out a very pretty cake which was singled out for praise by Rose herself. Rozanne decorated hers with exceptionally pretty swirls, and Katya's was so professional-looking that she sold it at a bakery that likes her work and is glad to give her space in their display case. As usual, Raymond has decorated his cake to the nines, prompting me to ask him if he'll give decorating lessons.
I love the weeks when we have cupcake versions. This time it was Nicola who baked the cupcakes, to the obvious delight of her assistant-in-a-highchair. Special props to Vicki, who cleverly used up her buttercream by making "faux truffles."

The pistachio cake FEATURED BAKER is Rachelino, who begins her blog with these lovely words: "Implausibly green blanched pistachio batons have danced in my head...." Her cake is beautiful--especially impressive because the minimalist decorations (carefully placed pistachios supplemented by a few rows of pepitas) were a product of necessity. She ran out of pistachios, and didn't want to go to the store. Likewise, her clever addition of a bit of molasses to the Lyle's syrup was prompted by running out of Lyle's and--again--having no wish to leave the warmth of her kitchen to brave the supermarket. I understand that wish and applaud the creative substitutions. Rachel served this cake to friends, one of whom surely earned a repeat invitation by telling her that the pistachio cake was the best cake she'd ever had.

If you're not allergic to peanuts, get ready to make the Peanut Butter Ingots, another version of the Financiers. (If you remember, we used these same financier molds to make the Barcelona Brownie Bars.) Or not. Many of you were quite creative in coming up with substitute pans. If you decide to get the silicone molds (and I'll admit it's pretty late in the day to do that), get the bigger blue ones, and not the smaller terra-cotta colored ones that are labeled "financier" pans.
Enjoy the easy ingots, because the week after that we're doing Le Succes (not pronounced "success," but souk-SAY), which requires marking 8-inch circles on baking sheets, then piping the meringue batter onto the circles. Anything requiring piping gives me cold chills. After you're done with the piping, making the tea ganache should be a snap. This is our first Passover cake, although I believe that if you're actually making this for Passover, you're going to have to modify the ganache, which is made with creme fraiche and cream. I have a friend who told me I could make a fortune if I could actually produce a good-tasting Passover cake. I'm not sure about making a fortune, but I'll bet that if this has passed Rose's taste tests, it's going to be good.

16 comments:

Jenn said...

Great write up Marie! I love what you said about Faithy, and I agree, she's a dynamo!
I was also happy to see cupcakes - it's something that I look for now every week, to see who make it in cupcake form.
I will skip the peanut butter ingots, not a fan of peanut butter. I will, however, make the Chocolate Apricot Roll. I have the lekvar that I made last week sitting in the fridge and it is calling my name. Can't wait :).

evil cake lady said...

Congrats to Rachelino! I thought her cake was very lovely.
I want to make the financiers, but will have to get creative with the baking pan....hmmm

Hey Bakers, I have a question about the Succes: where are you all getting the lemon tea powder for the ganache?? I've never heard of it, and can't find anything like it in the stores. Tips? Suggestions?

Monica said...

Congratulations to Rachelino as well.. her decorated cake kicked serious butt.

I'm with Evil... I have no clue where to bake these cakes.. no pan and its too late to order them... and I also would like ideas were to get the lemon tea powder...

Marie said...

ECL and others,
When I read the recipe, I was assuming that lemon tea powder was instant lemon tea--I've never used it, but I've seen it in stores. I'll check with Woody and see if that's right or if it's something more exotic than that.
If you don't have the financier pans, an easy substitute would be mini muffin pans.

Katya said...

Like Crystal Lite? Seems so ghetto for the cookbook that was requiring pistachio essence last time around. Maybe I'll infuse some cream or something if I get to feeling fancy.

Lois B said...

I'm too am without financier pans, but was thinking about. . . cupcakes. I'll keep watching to see what the verdict is on lemon tea powder.

Well done, Rachelino! Congrats on a beautiful, creatively decorated cake.

Hanaâ said...

Congrats Rachelino! I like how you decorated your cake. Very art deco! :o)

Jenn said...

Marie - I'm sure you will do fine with the piping. Meringue batter is more firma so it pipes easier than buttercream/whipped cream. In any case, as you've said you have come a long way since you started baking cakes so I have great confidence in you :).

Monica said...

I was thinking cupcakes too! Because I have looked for the pan high and low around town.. I guess we are not that fancy here in West Florida... sigh, in times like this,I miss living in a BIG metropolitan city, were you can get anything right at your back door!

Marie, keep us posted on the tea...

Marie said...

Just got the straight dope from Woody about the tea for Le Succes--all you need is plain old Lipton's instant tea mix, lemon flavored.

Bungalow Barbara said...

Hi folks, just back from visiting Ajijic, Mexico! I look forward to catching up on posts and baking with everyone again.

evil cake lady said...

thanks Marie and Woody for the straight dope on the tea powder!
peace out yo,
ECL

Mendy said...

ב''ה

Congrats Rachelino!

Great work!

Baking Sorceress' Apprentice said...

Such a creative cake Rachelino!
I too had been wondering about the mysterious tea powder - a relief to find it readily at hand.

Rachelino said...

Thanks so much, Marie and everyone, for your compliments on my Mount Etna explosion cake. That's what the design looks like to me when I see it in pictures!

:)
xo

Vicki said...

Marie,
After a bit of sleuthing, I found Jiff has four times the amount of sodium plus molasses compared to the plain organic peanut butter I used.
Next time I'm adding salt and a bit of molasses or muscavado sugar to mimic Jiff.