Sunday, November 27, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Cake: Red Velvet Cake
Frosting: Italian Meringue Butter Cream
Ganache: Just plain Ganache
Ghosts: Spooky Meringues with green frosting pen eyes
All in all ok, but a few lessons learned:
- Frost cake before hitting the punchbowl.
- Use just a little bit of ganache. You can always add more. I still have some that dripped down off the cake, off the cutting board onto the garage floor. I really must go clean that up before the cats get at it! (Then I will have a whole different kind of mess to clean up, but that is really not the most important point here...)
- Red velvet cake really needs allot of red food coloring. I used everything I had at home (3 tubes/bottles) and it was not enough. The result was a bit more on the pink velvet side!
- I really must stop hurrying. The effect and effort would be so much better if I slowed down while decorating. I will get there one day. A yummy messy cake is in the end, still yummy.
Good question. I have a bit of a pause from family birthday celebrations right now, but a national independence day torte (Latvia) may revisit the red velvet cake again! I need to experiment more with different frostings. The IMBC is great, but getting a bit old.
Friday, August 19, 2011
As far as rough drafts go, I think I did OK on this one. The result was much better than I thought it would be structurally. The frosting was a bit too heavy under the ganache and not quite enough between the layers. If I attempt this torte again, I will use a different cake recipe, because while this chocolate is delicious on its own, it is too rich for this multifaceted cake. The recipe has to be a bit more simple and not quite as rich and sweet. The original bakery version had cherries, but due to my own snafu I had to use raspberry preserves I had on hand. The preserves were fine, but I would have liked to have some stewed, crushed and drained cherries instead. Another mistake was making the cake strips too wide (8cm). This resulted in a higher, more narrow torte which was fine, but I was aiming for a wider, flatter torte. I have little experience with ganache and I definitely learned that it should be made and used immediately, not put aside to be reheated and applied to the torte the next day! All in all I was impressed and happy with the results.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Layer 1 & 4 (from the top): Strawberry Daiquiri cake
Layer 2 & 5: That perfect yellow cake
Layer 3: Lime cheesecake (family recipe- I will get around to posting about this recipe one day)
Initial frosting recipe: Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting* (failed & ran low on time, turned to tried and true IMBC recipe)
2nd frosting recipe for between layers and base of the dress: Italian Meringue Butter cream
Frosting for decorating (pink) and for damming the frosting and strawberry layers: Magnolia's Vanilla Butter cream Frosting
Silver decorating beads, strawberries, strawberry white chocolate "chips," one Barbie :)
As I was going for a strawberry daiquiri effect, I replaced rum for vanilla extract for all recipes and added grated lime peel almost everywhere. The pink layer has food color added since the jello required in the recipe did not color the batter much and pink was requested by the birthday girl.
The result/lessons learned:
Except for a few snafus such as under cooking the first layer and disastrous results with trying the first recipe for frosting, I was very satisfied with the result. I ran out of time, so Barbie's top was a bit messy, but overall I was pleased. The taste was good. I don't know if I would make the pink layers again, but the yellow cake was good as usual (see cake competition blog post) and the frosting yummy. Although I vowed never to use the Magnolia's frosting recipe anymore because it has a cheap, overly sweet taste, it was fine for decorating purposes and for damming the cake, because it really hardens well in the refrigerator. Some research indicated that this cake should be frozen so it does not topple. I did not do that because all my freezer space is jam packed, but the result was just fine. And none of us died from eating potentially dangerous silver decorating beads.
I did have to shave the layers to make them skirt-like before frosting
The chips were a bit messy looking, but my daughter picked them out, so I felt the need to put them somewhere!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I received information from a friend that for mother’s day a local „celebrity” chef was going host a country torte contest for his TV show. My first task was to find out exactly what was meant by „country” torte. The only printed requirements were 1) it has to be sweet; 2) 20 eggs must be used; 3) butter must be used. Well, these requirements only made me realize that I was going to be making a huge torte since most of my recipes for a single cake require about 3-5 eggs. I asked around and the best information I received was that it was supposed to be something your country grandmother would make. My options were wide open. I eliminated chocolate as an option and tried to think of what torte ingredients were „local.” This led me to base my torte on blackberries and hazelnuts. I imagined three cake layers separated by frosting and berry filling. I had no clue what it would look like, as decorating is not my strong point, but I was inspired by a local children’s author when I decided on the title of my entry: „Woodland Mystery.” (It sounds better in Latvian- Meža mistērija).
Starting from from the bottom:
Layer 1- I googled moistest yellow cake and used the recipe from Cheftalk.com.
Layer 2- Frosting and this layer were Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC) with almond extract.
Layer 3- My friend BethAnne a while ago sent me a recipe for a french hazelnut cake, Creusois which is basically egg whites sugar and hazelnuts.
Layer4- Blackberry Filling from MyRecipes.com.
Layer 5- Same as layer 1.
Layer 6-Frosting- IMBC.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Faced with the reality of how many calories a real torte has, I searched my mental recipe book for light torte ideas. The frosting packs ALOT of calories, so finally trying out Italian meringue frosting was the way to go. Cooking Light happened to post a beautiful picture of a Fresh Coconut cake a little while ago on Facebook, so I thought I would give it a try for a Sunday BBQ we were having. The Recipe: Fresh Coconut Cake online at MyRecipes (from Cooking Light magazine)
Alterations: I had no water in the 3 coconuts I bought, so I used coconut milk. I don't think that this was the reason the cake came out a bit dense. I also added an extra egg white to my frosting, because I incorrectly thought I would not have enough.
-Italian meringue is prepared with hot syrup poured into egg whites, vs. Swiss meringue which is baked. I think that is right. This is more of a clarification for me because I have seen these two distinctions repeatedly lately.
-While I was sceptical of the frosting at first, the second day (or after completely cooling in the refridgerator) the frosting was very good, but deflated a bit. When I first put it on it was a massive layer. So it will deflate.
-That said, the frosting in between the cake will also virtually disappear, so it is important to "dam" the frosting between layers with a heavier frostin or something so it does not squish out. Duh- this was a lesson learned from a torte a while ago.
-Egg whites are a tricky thing. I really have to be careful of overbeating, because I think I overbeat them this time and they were not so easy to fold into the batter.
-Must find cake flour. I use the 3/4c flour +2Tbsp. corn starch substitution for 1c cake flour currently because I do not know where and if I can find cake flour in this country. This is probably making my cakes too dense.
-Finally this recipe is delicious and I will be repeating it again. The toasted coconut gave such a rich buttery flavor to the cake. YUM. All reviews were very good. Sadly I found out one guest was actually allergic to coconut! But yay! more for me....
A friend alerted me that there is a national torte competition on Sunday in honor of Mother's Day. So I entered. We will see! Criteria: 20 eggs and must include butter. Egs and butter no problem, but 20 eggs?? We will see. There may be some marzipan sculpting involved in my idea!
*- Light= 332 cal per serving, 10.8g fat. Not too bad for a torte, except it just made me want a bigger piece of this delicious torte!
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Russian Apple Pie on Food.com
No Granny Smith Apples available (unless I want to go to a high priced import shop) so the cheaply available Polish apples went in this version. No chance on blaming the apples for the negative result. I did sprinkle a bit of baking powder in the batter because I had my doubts as soon as I realized what was going into the batter that my result was going to basically be a thick pancake with apples in it. It reminded me of the times way back when when my sister and I used to have recipe free bake-offs which 9 times out of 10 resulted in thick, oven cooked pancakes since we were pretty clueless about what actually should go into cake batter... but back to this flop of a desert. At least I had some assistance from my trusty sous chef:
- I should have known better.
- Stick to tortes.
- In all fairness this was ok sprinkled with powdered sugar as a afternoon snack for kids. The recipe only has 1/2c sugar in the whole thing, so at least it is not too sweet. Or sweet at all.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Ever since I tasted a wedding cake covered in marzipan seven years ago, I have wanted to try it myself. So I figured what better time than Easter. I couldn't just do a simple princess cake in natural marzipan, I had to go all the way a make a big colored egg. I had planned on an egg shaped torte, but I miscalculated the batter and ended up with a single layer of cake topped with everything that I wanted to layer.
The cake was Poppy Seed Cake from MyRecipes.com
The frosting & decorations were Italian Buttercream topped with black currants and colored bulk purchase marzipan. Unfortunately I do not have a reference for the frosting recipe. Google and you will find something very similar.
The cake recipe seemed a bit heavy, so I whipped the egg whites and folded in at the end.
- I really liked the result- the tart black currants unfrozen from last year's pick were a good contrast to the sweet marzipan and cake.
- I will not be afraid of covering a cake in marzipan- it was quite easy to do following some online tutorials. (ehow.com)
- That said, if I ever want pink marzipan, which was the color I was going for here) I will remember to add very little red food coloring. I freaked out a bit when I realized my undecorated cake looked like a giant stomach:
- I definitely need more practice with my decorating gun. while happy with the end result, I was not all too certain of how the egg would look at the end. Maybe I will make a big batch of mashed potatoes and practice!
- next time I use this cake recipe I will skip the sugar. The cake mix the recipe calls for was sweet enough. (Yes, I used cake mix even though it is against my principles of baking. Oh well.)
What next? A friend of mine had a birthday in May and I am debating on incorporating cheesecake into a torte. We will see if this works out and if he is game to let me deviate from his preferred birthday "order" the basic cheesecake! But after 3 cakes over 4 days I will take a break for a while. Although I do have a few ethnic dinners coming up. If anyone has any recommendations for a Russian torte recipe, let me know!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Martha Steward's Lemon Meringue Cake (http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf2/lemonmeringuecake.pdf) Alterations:
none this time. I figured I would make it just like Martha, she must know what she is talking about! Lessons Learned:
- The cake recipe was very light. The result was delicious, but it was definitely a cake vs. a torte. I expect a rich, decadent intermingling of flavors; this was more a cake with a topping as the lemon curd filling was scant and gave good flavor, but none of the benefits of a layered dessert.
- The meringue topping was definitely something other than frosting. It was a bit reminiscent of marshmallow fluff.
- That said, this meringue topping would be an excellent addition if there was ever an occasion for a S'mores torte (a bit of a contradiction that may work).
- The result left me craving more in the layers, so I would be tempted to make this recipe again, but add a bit of Italian meringue buttercream icing between the layers. But, since you bake the meringue on the cake, a butter rich frosting would melt.
- Perhaps the Swiss meringue could be baked on to a top layer which was then added to a torte- none on the sides unfortunately, but you would not end up with a melted, buttery mess.
- If you are craving a lemon meringue pie, skip this recipe and make the pie. If you insist o this recipe, make 1.5 or 2x the lemon curd.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
We once again had a theme night with Brazil as the country. I came across this recipe which claimed to be Brazilian. not finding a torte recipe, I went with this Gingerbread Roulade with Lemon sauce.
Gingerbread Roulade with Dulce de Leche Cream Filling
I had no candied ginger available and instead of creme fraiche, I used high quality plain yogurt
- Dulce de Leche may be a possible sweet topping/filling for a cake, but it is too runny for frosting.
- not much else here to work with for future tortes.
- If I were to make a roulade again, the batter must be spread very thinly on the cookie sheet. I hesitated to make it so thin, but as you can see, it turned out to be more of a tube than a roulade.