Jun 17, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

The strawberry cake with chocolate icing was a winner.  I'm still hoping that it will be my birthday cake next year. Raymond, our resident Francophile, had high praise for this classic American white cake, which reminded him of his mother's Silver White cake from the Betty Crocker cookbook. Lynnette also had high praise for the cake, calling it "just spot on for satisfying multiple levels of your inner most desires." Hmmm. That sounds a little like a blurb for an x-rated video. Mendy's blog begins with a nice tribute to Rose: "I do not usually like strawberry flavored things. This was one of those 'Rose Moments,' where you discover that the nominal can become extraordinary because of the personal touch of someone who has gone the extra mile to make it so." Joan loved this cake, although it caused her great anxiety, mostly because she was trying out a new oven thermometer and couldn't figure out whether her oven temperature was wrong or her new thermometer's temperature was wrong.
If you want to see what this cake looks like when it's NOT round and NOT covered with chocolate frosting, check out Saira's blog. Her version looks entirely different, but very good.
Surprisingly, if people had problems with this cake, it was more with the cake than with either the tricky mousseline or the sticky chocolate frosting--although Jenn had some of the problems with the frosting(s) that I anticipated having.   In fact, enough people had trouble with the cake crumbling that Rose had to write in to remind us to use something--like the bottom of a tart pan--to transport cakes from here to there.
One layer of Monica's cake (the one where she used her store-bought cake strip, as opposed to her homemade one that worked beautifully) "cracked! And not a small crack, but a total melt down crack... the cake was decomposing before my very eyes." Katya baked one layer that was "so tender that [it]broke, leaving a plate of cake bits that was gratefully consumed." Jennifer also had one cake layer that broke as she "was lifting it onto the cake, but once you smear it with buttercream and encase it in frosting, no one is the wiser, unless you are looking at the cake from the right angle and notice it is crooked." Jennifer's blog is proof that pictures DO lie--one of the shots of her cake shows it looking absolutely perfect, and then another shot--the truth-in-blogging shot--shows the cake with a very definite list to one side.  Julie had a little trouble with cake crumbles, too, but more than made up for that by making her own strawberry butter because she couldn't find any in her local stores.
On the other hand, Nicola's cake was so "robust" that it withstood a big bottle of balsamic vinegar falling on it, straight from her neatly organized pantry. And Vicki avoided the whole issue by making only one layer and using the rest of the batter for extra cupcakes.
Usually, for one--often irrational--reason or another, the person who will be named FEATURED BAKER jumps out at me while I'm reading the blogs. This week I had a very hard time deciding--the cakes all looked so beautiful and the stories were all so good. I was agonizing about the choice when I finally had to remind myself that this is not the Nobel Prize. And then it became clear to me that the FEATURED BAKER should be Nancy B.
If anyone deserves a prize, it's Nancy. First, her computer crashed last week and she couldn't bake the cupcakes. Then she went off on a business trip. Then she came back to her humid Georgia kitchen and decided that she not only had to make this week's cake, but also the cupcakes from last week (so she'd keep her record of having baked every single cake so far).
Remember how this mousseline isn't supposed to work in humid weather? Remember that Nancy B. lives in Georgia? Did she let that stop her? Are you tired of rhetorical questions?
No, she did not. With the help of with "large numbers of dirty bowls, beaters, thermometers, strainers (for the strawberry jam) and other utensils," she succeeded in making the mousseline. And she succeeded in making the chocolate frosting too--eventually--although she never did get it to a workable texture. And then she went on to bake the cupcakes. In case you're wondering how she turns out all this cake, she cuts the recipes in half when she makes two cakes. So she not only bakes like crazy, but she also has to do math.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on the issue of dry chocolate cakes. After reading all the comments, I bought myself some new Italian cocoa, which is supposed to be higher in fat. And I vow to faithfully weigh my eggs. Jenn said that she thought the cupcakes were a bit dry, but not all chocolate cakes--the German chocolate cake base, for example, she thought was not dry at all. Jenn, you'll be happy to know that the base for the ice cream cake, coming up in a few weeks, is the German chocolate cake.
Next up: one of Rose's deservedly famous cheesecakes--this time a coconut version. I had some trouble finding cream of coconut. Google said to look in the drink mix aisle of your grocery store, because cream of coconut is used to make pina coladas. My grocery store and neighborhood liquor store only had pina colada mix, made with fake coconut flavoring. A trip to a bigger liquor store yielded this,
which is what you want.


Katya said...

It's a little embarrassing how much I await your roundups, Marie. Thanks for doing this.

I definitely want to make this cake again--maybe it will be my birthday cake!

Mendy said...


Congrats Nancy! Well done.

I'm also thinking of having this cake for my birthday.

Maybe I get my wife to make it for me... ;)

Monica said...

I'm with Katya.. I keep checking my reader over and over to see if it was up!

I think it's because it helps me keep everyone accounted for... since I read every post during the week as the group is loading them up and sometimes I miss someone and reading your recap keeps me in track!

Congratulations to Nancy B!

And you are right the coconut cream can be found were the important stuff is located in the supermarket - LIQUOR. 'nnf said.

Jenn said...

I've been checking for the last cake, next cake too. So Katya and Monica, you gals are not alone for sure.
I don't think it's embarrassing or sad, it just shows: a) how much we like baking and being part of HCB, b) how good Marie's summary is, and c) that Marie has fans :).

Nice write up Marie. And thanks for the picture of cream of coconut. I'm not a big fan of coconut dessert, but hubby is, so I'll be making this one, :). I'd need to go buy the 6 or 7 inch springfoam pan this week (in the spirit of making 1/2 recipes).

evil cake lady said...

Congratulations Nancy! I loved how you frosted your cupcakes, and the reason why you did.

I also keep checking my reader to see if Marie has posted the Last Cake, Next Cake. I love these postings!

I found my Coco Lopez at the liquor store, and holy can of chemicals batman! I wish there was another option--but I will use it and the cheesecake will probably be excellent.

Vicki said...

Well deserved Nancy! I have no idea how you managed the mousseline in hot humid weather. I had to turn the air conditioner on to stop the butter from melting on the counter and no humidity to contend with.

Baking Sorceress' Apprentice said...

I try to read all the comments, but it is still fun to read Marie's 'take' on all of our own accounts. It also is interesting to see how many things are experienced by many people, or not, as the case may be. It is always a fun experience to be privy to the experience of others, and to profit from their honesty in mistakes and joy in success. Great job Nancy.

Linda said...

Thank you for the picture of the Coco Lopez! I'd been looking everywhere for cream of coconut, but concentrating on the Thai food sections rather than the alcohol aisle!!