Sep 23, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

Kudos to all of us! Massive group hug! We conquered (well, sort of) the temperamental Queen of the Cakes--the Apple Caramel Charlotte. With seven, count them, seven pages of instructions.
Before I get on to the cakes, I want to give a little shout-out to Rose for the quality of the instructions, although I'll admit that their thoroughness was not apparent until AFTER I finished the cake. In retrospect, looking through the pages, I could see that she included every detail that we needed and with as much clarity as was possible, given that she was describing what is essentially visual and sensory experience. And, looking at it that way, her advice to make it again--soon--makes a lot of sense. But I'm not ready quite yet.

I also have a confession to make. One of the seven deadly sins hit me really hard. Don't worry--I didn't kill anyone. But I did suffer grievously from envy. I was so of all of you who trimmed your cake slices so tidily and evenly. Then I gradually worked my way back into equanimity. But I'm sorry to say that there was a point when I did not want to look at one more picture-perfect example.

We have two new cake bakers: Sarah and Andrea--both of whom deserve a round of applause for jumping right in and making this complicated cake as their maiden cake voyage. And talk about picture perfect! Fortunately, Sarah confessed to having to make six different versions of meringue before she got it right. And Andrea had to rescue her Bavarian cream after it set before she wanted it to. But you certainly can't tell from the final pictures that either of them had problems.
Sarah and Andrea weren't the only ones who turned out beautiful Apple Charlottes. Nor were they they only ones who had some problems with the cake.
Vicki ended up poaching two different batches of apples. First, her beautiful Pink Pearl apples turned into beautiful Pink Pearl applesauce. (Really nice-looking sauce!) But her more mundane Granny Smith apples, tinted with the Pink Pearl apple peels, also looked lovely and held their shape.
Julie was forced into a caramel re-do after she mixed up the water/sugar proportions, but she was "back on track" as soon as she fixed that little blip.
Others may not have had to do any retakes--but tfound themselves baking deep into the nighttime, when normal people were in bed. Monica, who called this cake "pure evil," may have been affected by the fact that she couldn't sleep, so she got up and padded down to the kitchen to get a head start on the Bavarian cream. Then, after she started, she decided she had to go ahead and make the whole thing. At 2:00 a.m., she finally got back to bed, vowing never to make this cake again! (But, like many of the rest of us who made similar vows, she's already weakening).
Jen had 2:00 beat as a quitting time for the Bavarian cream--she stayed up until 4:30 a.m.! Jen gets many bonus points for also showing a picture of the Ethereal Pearl Charlotte that she made for her son as a birthday cake--proving that she has mastered the Charlotte.
Shandy and Kristina both ended up with magnificent cakes, but both also struggled with the Bavarian cream. Both of them had they same experience--it set too quickly, and they ended up with a solid cream into which they had to try to whisk in the meringue and whipped cream. On the other side of trouble, Katya ran out of gelatin, leaving her with a cake that "didn't so much slice as gloop." Katya is unfazed by running out of things. She didn't have Calvados--wno needs it? She didn't have apricot preserves--what's wrong with cherry? Fewer tears in the kitchen with that attitude.
Mendy made the biscuit (in 4 separate pans) in his miraculous toaster oven, and ended up with some burned spots, but he was able to cut around them and still have plenty to spare. And cheerful Mendy willingly admitted that he "had a lot of fun with this."
Nancy B. fell victim to her own organizational skills. Her only real problem was that she lined up her cake slices in a long row, and then realized that she was going to have problems transferring them to the circular cake pan.
And Raymond soldiered on in the midst of a personal crisis, turning out a beautiful charlotte. That is dedication!
This was another week where I had a hard time picking the FEATURED BAKER. In the end, though, I decided it had to be Jenn. Our Knitty Baker ended up with a breathtakingly beautiful cake that looked like a twin to the show-stopping photo pictured in Heavenly Cakes. And not only was her cake beautifull, but also she really sailed through this long and difficult recipe, showing that she's mastered many of the steps that I feel that I'm still working on. (Not that there's anything wrong with still working on something!). Congratulations again to all of us!

I'm going to be out of town for a week. With any luck, I'll get my chocolate tomato cake done before I leave, and have it ready to post sometime Monday. Do you all have your cans of Campbell's condensed tomato soup? I know that some of you who don't live in the U.S. may have trouble finding this, and I don't know if there's an easily available substitute. If you can't find condensed soup, I think it would be difficult to substitute something because the soup is kind of the point of the cake.

The week after that I'm giving you a twofer. If you make your own brioche loaf, you'll be able to cross two things off the Still-to-be-Baked list. I know that some of you have a fear of yeast, but I've made this bread already--it's waiting in the freezer for me to use for the Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes with Homemade Brioche. If you want to take a shortcut, of course you can use non-homemade brioche, but the brioche loaf is a surprisingly easy bread--you can easily spread it out over the course of a few days, because it can go in the refrigerator at any point. It makes a rich, buttery bread that is wonderful to have on hand (my only regret is that I didn't double the recipe). If you'd like to try your hand at a loaf of bread that will make you feel good about making it, I encourage you to give it a try.

Because I'll be gone, there will be no mid-week post next week, so good luck on the tomato soup cake!


Hanaâ said...

Congratulations Jenn. Well-deserved. Your cake turned out beautiful!

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

and kudos to marie. do you all realize and appreciate how time consuming it is, not only to make the cakes, photograph the steps, but also to review every one else's and then summarize them so beautifully. brava marie and jim!

Katya said...

Indeed, Rose, the step by step photos are always appreciated. I know that I'm a big substituter, which must be hell for cookbook writers, but I just hope that it's charming, as in. Be assured I'll never do that thing where I sub five ingredients and then say the recipe didn't work. I think I have a pretty good sense at this point what will be a crucial shift in direction. But if there's ever a cake where changing any tiny detail will ruin it, do tell.

Monica said...

Congratulations to my main chica Jenn! She totally deserves it (ok, all of totally deserve it) but, know how nervous she was going into this cake. Plus like Marie said the cake looked like the book's twin!

Rose, you are so right, Marie is like the engine in this little choo-choo train we are riding.. without her masterful steering we all derail for sure.

I'm on the fence on this weeks cake... I have such a long list of TO DO's that I'm thinking of passing it by, plus, I think I'm all chocolate out.... Of course this may change, guess we all will find out by next week - I may even surprise myself. But, I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with.

Marie.. have a safe trip!

Lois B said...

Congrats to Jenn! An amazing job in recreating the pictured cake.

Jenn said...

Aww Marie, thank you for naming me Featured Baker, :).

I am looking forward to the brioche. I've made the one from the Bread Bible several times and it is DELICIOUS! Very light in texture, sweet, and buttery. I have a feeling the combo with pineapple is going to be deadly.

Katya said...

Will you all hate me if I made the tomato cake without the cookies?

evil cake lady said...

congrats Jenn!

high five, everyone!

i can't wait to finish assembling mine so i can taste it!

Mendy said...


Congrats Jenn! Great Job!

Marie: Would you mind elaborating on what the rules are (or lack of them) for "Angel Food Cake Any Way You Want?"

Marie said...

In addition to the chocolate tweed recipe, there's a base recipe that lets you make a cake as big or small as you want. Mini cakes? One small chocolate angel food? Loaf cake filled with mango whipped cream? You are limited only by your imagination and Rose's basic formula.

Marie said...

I didn't use the cookies. Nobody can hate you (or me) because the whole cookie thing is optional. And time-consuming. And expensive. So feel free to skip.

Katya said...

Of course the cookies were on sale at the market I didn't think would be open today! I did buy them, but I think they won't make the cake--because I'm saving them for my little sister, they were our grandmother's signature treat.