Oct 27, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

It felt a little like Top Chef around here last week, where the challenge was to create a unique and interesting angel food cake--the kind of cake that you'd pick as one of your three foods to have on a desert (dessert?) island. We had lots of great entries.
Some people reached back to their mothers' cakes for inspiration:
For example, Raymond made a cake "in a strawberry cloud"--like his mother used to make. No offense to your mother, Raymond, but I'll bet she never made a cake that looked this grand.
Vicki also took a page out of her mother's cookbook and filled her cake with lemon filling from "Heaven Only Knows Where, i.e., Mom's Recipe Box." She frosted it with whipped cream, and declared it to be "exquisite--the best angel food cake ever."

Mendy's was plain, but still good--at least it was good after he let it cool. A word to the wise from Mendy: angel food cake straight from the oven is not angelic. Mendy also shared a bit of Hebrew lore about manna, the food of angels.

Chocolate, not surprisingly, played a part in a number of the cakes.
 Hanaa made the Chocolate Tweed again, with the inspired addition of orange rind to the shaved chocolate. Hanaa, if you like the combination of orange and chocolate, be sure to make the Bostini next week!
Maria thought her 9-egg-white cake was a little plain--but she fixed that in a hurry. She filled it with raspberry sauce, topped it with chocolate ganache that she just happened to have in her refrigerator and frosted the whole thing with chocolate whipped cream sprinkled with silver dragees. No longer plain.
Lynnette made a chocolate angel food cake straight from Rose's playbook. She found the cake to be "moist, tender, and simply delicious" as is, but thought that for its second night, she'd sit it "next to a scoop of ice cream."
Nancy made very adorable mini angel food cake cherubs. Although she admired their looks, even their cuteness didn't quite persuade her or her tasters that angel food cake was as good as chocolate.

Some people took more unexpected routes.
Jennifer did a very creative take--a coffee angel food cake (to be eaten for breakfast, with coffee, of course). She dissolved instant espresso--next time she thought she'd use a little more--in boiling water and got a beautiful caramel-colored cake.
Kristinadid another variation that had never occurred to me: the spice angel food cake. A mixture of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg jazzed up her version.
Speaking of jazzing up a cake, Julie did just that in her exotic lime and coconut cake, dreamed up as the perfect finale to a Thai dinner. The cake looks very pretty, filled and frosted with lime custard, and topped with toasted coconut. Julie did her cake in an eight-cup pan.

Sarah discovered that she didn't have a tube pan, so naturally she had to pay a visit to Sur La Table, where she got the required pan and the not-required (but great to have!) balloon whisk. She put both to immediate good use in her vanilla-bean angel food cake.

Most weeks, the Featured Baker is somebody who made a particularly beautiful or imaginative version of the week's cake. But sometimes you have to honor someone who may not have turned out a beauty, but who kept trying ... and trying ... and trying. Joan prepared for his first angel food cake bake "as if it was surgery." When the cake was beautifully done, it came out of the oven and "a huge surge took place and the cake turned on its side and slid out halfway into the colander receptacle." Undaunted, (or not daunted very much), Joan sent her agreeable husband out for more eggs. Cake #2: Joan investigated possible problems on the Forum and tried again. "Boom. It plops on its side." Cake #3: Husband, now fully invested in the success of this cake, buys more eggs. This one looks promising: "It was so perfectly gorgeous in medium brown, luscious and tender looking; domed to about 3 inches, and then flattened out as it was supposed to do. It tested well.... Oh, I have accomplished a miracle. I ran for the camera, only to hear my husband shouting: 'It's falling!'"
Joan, I promise you, one of your next cakes will work!

If you haven't already done so, be sure to go to Rose's web site and find out the answer to the mystery of the caramel!

Next week is the Bostini--the dessert we've all been waiting for! I'm going to be out of town next weekend, so I made it early, and I can tell you that it's worth waiting for. Delicious orange cupcakes, incredibly rich and flavorful creme patisserie, all topped with chocolate glaze (don't let people know that the glaze is made with a half-pound of butter!). The Bostini is not for the cowardly.
Have a great Halloween weekend!


Katya said...

Alright Bostini, here I come. What wonderful flavors and smells and tastes. I found that I had to put in a lot of flavoring for it to really take, perhaps the lack of fat impeded flavor concentration? But I got there, too late for the roundup, but I got there.

Monica said...

Congratulations to Joan.. THREE TIMES??? Oh wow, bravo! hats off to you missy.. I would have given up after the first flop.

I was so impress with all the different variations and flavor combinations - what a daring bunch of baker we are!

And like everyone else.. I'm so Bostini ready it's a bit ridiculous around here... Tom is like salivating, since I actually printed out the recipe, because I'm making half...and it's been sitting posted on our refrigerator for more than 2 weeks! Cross your fingers that all goes well - no, actually I KNOW all will go well.

lola said...

I had to sit out the angel food cake week, but will be ready for the Bostini. Wish I had those great glasses that Rose pictured.

Hanaâ said...

Joan, congratulations!!! I have to ask, what did you do with all the egg yolks? That’s a lot of yellow butter cakes, pastry cream, ice cream, or anything else :o)

Quick update on the Angel Food Cake. I took it to a work potluck today (yes, I made it last Sunday and wrapped it really well). Everybody who tried it, loved it. The first thing most people said was “this is so moist”. The second thing, “it’s very orange-y. I love the orange/chocolate combo”. So kudos to Rose for another great recipe.

The Bostini… how I will miss thee. Sadly, there’s no way I can fit in the Bostini this week (I’m so bummed). I have 2 must-bake projects this weekend (it’s my turn to host one baking group and the other is for the ABC baking group I started so I can’t skip that – Pumpkin Ice Cream Profiteroles with Caramel Sauce). Did I mention we’re getting a new carpet installed next Monday which means we have to move furniture and tear up the old carpet? Luckily, Free Choice week is approaching soon so I plan to make it then.

Marie, have a great time on the East Coast. We expect to read about every little detail, if you do end up meeting with Rose!!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Congrats to Joan - I can't think of a more worthy recipient after suffering through 3 failed attempts. My heart totally went out to her while reading her post.


Andrea said...

Congratulations Joan! I definitely wouldn't have that much patience to try a recipe 3 times.

I had to take a pass this week for the angel food cake, but after reading the recipe for the Bostini I'm really hoping I can convince my husband to help me make those this weekend. (I'm on crutches and can't really carry things around the kitchen, but that doesn't mean I can't sit and mix stuff.) I found some glass cappuccino cups similar to the ones in the book on Sur la Table's website so I may have to get those.

Does anyone know how much vanilla bean paste I would need to use instead of a whole vanilla bean? I've used whole beans in the past, but they're expensive. The recipes always say to rinse the vanilla pod and save for future use, but how does that work if you need the actual beans?

Mendy said...


Congrats Joan! Way to persevere! Indeed a devoted baker.

Jenn said...

Andrea, I don't really use whole vanilla beans either - too expensive. I buy vanilla bean paste from Williams Sonoma. 1 vanilla bean = 1 tsp vanilla paste/extract.
Vanilla pod is vanilla bean itself. So once you have used it you can rinse it and store in a jar for future use, or mix it with some sugar - and the you'll have vanilla sugar.

evil cake lady said...

Congrats Joan! I hope this award sweetens your lost weekend. Better luck with the Bostini!

Anonymous said...

dear wonderful everyone!

there's no way marie's going to be in ny without our getting together!

joan, my heart breaks for you. it's been years since i've had a cake drop out of the pan but i remember the disappointment as if it were yesterday. the first time was when i had the bright idea to swirl raspberry jam through out a chiffon cake. splat! the second was when i brought an angel food out to the porch and there was a draft.

i can think of only two reasons why a correctly made cake such as yours would fall out of the pan--ok 3: the pan was not totally grease free, it was not elevated enough from the counter so steam caused the collapse, it was in a draft, oh and 4, it was underbaked--did it start lowering in the pan and did a wooden skewer come out clean? don't give up joan. collect egg whites--there's always an excess--freeze them, and when you have enough try again. what do you have to lose? only a little time.

and marie and jim: of course there will be cake!

faithy said...

Joan definitely deserves to be the featured baker for trying so many times! :D Joan, you are my HERO! :)

Alpha Baker Joan said...

Aww shucks! If my ocd hadn't kicked in so mightily, I might have pitched the culprit pan - who/what else could I blame now? But, as our beloved 'anonymous' suggests: a bit of grease somewhere? I was intrigued by Vicki's parchment on the bottom trick~ The wooden skewer seemed to come out clean, but then after the avalanche I tested and it was damp, ahem soggy? To elevate a colander, and a Pelligrino bottle. I think the operative word might be 'correctly made.'
Thank you so much for all your loving support! Re next week: Happily, I have had the good fortune to bake a gorgeous Great Bostini back in May. It was absolutely fabulous! and hopefully portentous of some more great cakes soon. Then I shall reapproach angel. Thanks to all you Heavenly Angels, and to our own delectable anonymous ; )