Jan 9, 2011
I really wasn't looking forward to making this cake. It seemed so, well, plain. No syrup, no special filling, no ladyfingers. Just a plain vanilla cake. Literally. And milk chocolate? We chocolate snobs look down our noses at milk chocolate. Why not just eat a Hershey bar? But, as usual, I'm forced to admit that my scorn is misplaced. It's a cake so light and tender that you think it will disappear on your tongue, and the ganache--not too sweet at all--bursts with rich chocolate flavor. And it's kid-friendly. Since there's no alcohol in it, I was able to give a big slab to our neighbors with their two little boys who love chocolate, thus saving me from my unfortunate greed.
The cake itself was so easy to make there were barely any pictures to take. It's practically a dump everything in the bowl and mix cake. I say "practically" because you really dump everything except the egg whites, some of the milk, and the vanilla in the bowl and mix it up. Then you add the egg white mixture. Easy as falling off a log, and considerably less painful.
For the ganache, I finally got to use the bar of Valrhona milk chocolate that's been waiting patiently in my chocolate bin (needless to say, I did not have a chocolate bin before starting this project). This huge chocolate bar wasn't enough chocolate, so I had to supplement with some other milk chocolate that Woody and I purchased in bulk long ago.
The chocolate melted nicely in the microwave. If this were Thanksgiving and I were giving a list of things I was thankful for, one of them would be that I can now melt chocolate in the microwave instead of having to drag out the double boiler. I wonder if my daughters even know what a double boiler is.
Cream poured into chocolate? Also a thing to be thankful for.
Ummm. Butter mixed into chocolate into which cream has been poured? I don't know whether this is a good idea or insane arterial-clogging overkill.
While I am mixing various fat-filled ingredients into fat-filled chocolate, the cake has baked. In contrast, the cake is a model of healthful eating, ready to earn the seal of approval from even those who gasp at the idea of eating Fettuccine Alfredo ("You might as well eat a whole stick of butter!"). The cake has only egg whites and milk. Oh, and yes, there is that whole stick of butter, but still--divided by 10? It's nothing.
The instruction, "divide the cake in half" no longer sends me into a tailspin. Now all I have to do is adjust the feet of my cake slicer so that the wire cuts more or less through the middle of the cake. Much easier than blindly running a cake knife through the cake or trying to figure out the dental floss trick.
The ganache, bless its heart, turns out to be just the right consistency for spreading, and the frosting actually proceeds fairly uneventfully. But which I mean 1) the cake didn't split into a million crumbs and 2) the kitchen remained a curse-free zone.
I actually thought the cake looked quite nice plain. But then I remembered who I was baking with. All my super-baker colleagues would no doubt bring out their pastry tips and their designer tricks and I'd be the only one with a plain cake. I remembered I had some little snowflake decorations left over from the last time I made decorated sugar cookies, and I thought they'd look cute. Hoping that sugar snowflakes never go stale, I sprinkled them on the top.
Now that I've made this cake, I really want someone to ask me to make them a plain white cake. And I'll say, "Oh, I know just the thing."
Karen: "This ganache is heavenly. Milk chocolate is my favorite. The cake is light as a cloud."
Jim: "The cake is good, but not delicious. I like the ganache, but I like dark chocolate better. It's good for what it is."
Mary: "Delicious cake. You didn't make the little white sprinkles, did you? That would be beyond the call of duty."
Posted by Marie at 10:00 AM