Nov 15, 2010

Woody's Test Cake with Light Whipped Ganache

Free Choice week always presents a problem. (Not a real problem, I hasten to add). I sometimes bake a different version of something I've baked before. This time, however, I pair something I didn't bake at all with a frosting from The Cake Bible that I'd never tried.

A few weeks ago, Woody dropped by on his way to tai chi, or broomball, or one of his esoteric activities, and invited Jim and me to sample the cake he was taking along for his buddies. Honestly, I don't even remember what the cake was, so taken was I with the frosting. He showed me the recipe (p. 268 in The Cake Bible), and problem of Free Choice week was solved! I didn't even have to bake a cake to put under the frosting because Woody had also given me several sample cakes a while ago when he and Rose were testing flours.
You can see the test slices in the cake. I just covered them over with frosting and no one was the wiser.
In case you're wondering, yes, I do know how lucky I am to know someone like Woody, who drops by the house with delicious treats, a big hug, and an even bigger grin. I just don't want him to develop a big ego to go along with the grin.
The whipped ganache begins with melting bittersweet chocolate with part of the whipping cream. (In TCB, Rose doesn't specify the cacao %. I felt giddy with freedom, and chose a 70%).
I healted the chocolate and the cream in the microwave, and let the hot cream gradually melt the rest of the chocolate.
This mixture is lovely, and you almost feel like stopping right there. But you don't. I used the "quick" variation, which Rose describes as involving a little more work. It actually seemed pretty easy to me.
After this chocolate mixture cools, you whip the rest of the cream (I halved the recipe and used 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and a cup of whipping cream), and then add the chocolate mixture. In retrospect, I see that this picture shows the whipped chocolate to be just about right.
Did I stop when it was just about right? No, I did not. I continued beating, and guess what? It didn't become thicker, it became thinner and somewhat grainy. I had a deadline, however, so it was going to have to be good enough.
And it was. Like so many of Rose's recipes, although the directions and amounts are completely precise, there is still room for user error.
Piling the ganache on the cake--the piece that was cut out will no longer be visible.
I had refrigerated the ganache briefly to make it more spreadable, but it was still pretty soft. Usually the strips of waxed paper I put under the cake while I'm frosting it will slide out easily, leaving a clean bottom line.
But in this case, some of the frosting came off each time I pulled the waxed paper out, no matter I gently I tried to slide it. I would have avoided this problem entirely if I'd used it to frost cupcakes, which was my initial plan. However, there was really no contest when I weighed the cupcake plan against the getting-a-cake-out-of-the-freezer plan.
You can see the imperfections in the frosted cake, but I didn't hear anyone complaining. I loved this frosting as much as I did when I first tasted it. It's so chocolatey, and yet, even with all that chocolate and cream, it seems light, rather than rich.
The cake was fine, but the frosting was so much the star of the show that one of my tasters carefully ate all the ganache and left the cake.

Jim: "This is delicious. I like the cake too, but I really like the frosting."
Liz: "I'd give the ganache an A, but I'm not even going to bother with the cake."
Sarah: "I usually don't want dessert after a big meal, but who can resist this?"
James: "Very good, especially the frosting."


Katya said...

Ah the fate of the test baker. I have a number of friends and relatives who just haven't come to grips with the number of 'spare desserts' I'm always trying to foist upon them. Stay tuned for another somewhat dubious frosting job with my pumpkin cake.

Marie said...

So far, people haven't hidden behind their curtains when they see me arriving with a plate of something, but I can see how that day could come.
Based on the pictures on your blog, I'd be happy to have you foist something on me.

Rachelino said...

At least this test cake is only a single layer!
I can only imagine what it would be like to try and foist a Pumpple Cake upon unsuspecting guests. If you haven't seen the pumpple cake yet, you really must for the shock of it. A full pumpkin pie AND apple pie are baked within two giant cake layers and the entire thing is coated in a thick layer of buttercream.

Jenn said...

Marie, I've made the quick light whipped ganache once and failed miserably. From the conversation over at Rose's forum, the quick version is harder than the regular version. Yours look awesome! Congrats!

Vicki said...

Frosting sounds spectacular!

"(In TCB, Rose doesn't specify the cacao %. I felt giddy with freedom, and chose a 70%)." How funny we've all become!

Marie said...

Good lord. That's one of the most obscene things I've ever seen--and 1800 calories a slice!

I'm so glad I didn't know that the whipped ganache could be tricky when I tried it for the first time! Now that I know, my beginner's luck will be gone and I'm sure to be stuck with a big mess.

How obsessed we've all become!

Jenn said...

Oh no Marie, you shouldn't feel that way (hm... maybe I should keep my mouth shut next time!).

Marie said...

No, you should never keep your mouth shut! I love to have an excuse if something fails.

HanaĆ¢ said...

What a lovely whipped ganache, Marie. I’ve made “regular” whipped ganache a couple times and I really like it; both taste wise and ease of making it. The cake underneath looks pretty good too (looks like a white cake).

I just read this tweet by America’s Test Kitchen and wanted to pass it on to all Heavenly Cake Bakers:
“Stop chocolate from shattering when chopped: microwave on lowest setting for 1 min, turning halfway through. Easier cleanup, too!”.

My HCB post will probably be (very) late this week. I picked my Free Choice Week cake (which was difficult), planned to bake it last night, but time got away from me this weekend. So I thought, I’d bake it on Monday night because I need a dessert for Tuesday’s Eid Holiday. Then this morning I remembered I have a fundraising event to attend this evening called Shut The Door on Domestic Violence. Money raised will go to that organization as well as a fund setup for my very close friends’ 3 kids who are left fatherless and parentless (see for more info).

Marie said...

Thanks for the tip about grating chocolate--sounds like a great idea.
The fund raiser is definitely a good cause. I remember when the shooting happened--so sad.

Marie said...

Thanks for the tip about grating chocolate--sounds like a great idea.
The fund raiser is definitely a good cause. I remember when the shooting happened--so sad.

evil cake lady said...

marie, in the past photo your ganache looks perfect! you are very lucky to have a frozen stash of woody's test cakes. i think the light whipped ganache was the first time i ever got a ganache to turn out right! ah, memories.

Marie said...

How come everyone but me knew about the light whipped ganache? I think I'm running out of test cakes, and will expect another batch soon.

Julie said...

Lovely cake, Marie! Nice to see all those test cakes are being put to good use!

Ah, you've discovered the light whipped ganache- it may just be my all-time favorite recipe in the entire Cake Bible. It's that good.

I make it with Callebaut 52% dark and sub a little cognac or rum for some of the cream. Dreamy.

Marie said...

Your variation sounds so delicious--thanks for the great idea!

Marie said...

Your variation sounds so delicious--thanks for the great idea!

Jenn said...

I posted something that you'd like to see :)).

Andrea said...

Marie, that icing looks so delicious! I love fluffy chocolate icing.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

The light whipped ganache is one of my favorite standbys. Wonderful stuff, and I haven't met a single person who hasn't swooned over it.

Sorry your wax paper didn't pull away cleanly. Next time chill the cake a bit before pulling the wax paper strips.

I didn't make a free-choice cake this week because I still had Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake in the house... my jeans are getting tight!