Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Country Torte Competition

(Blogger somehow messed up this blog, resetting to an incomplete version. I will fix and edit soon!!)

The Idea:

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).
The Recipe:

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.

Decorations- Standard buttercream (basically butter & enormous amounts of powdered sugar). Before decorations-about 12kg!


-My blackberry filling was made with my own blackberry preserves rather than fozen fruit, so I reduced the sugar amount in the recipe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Light*" Coconut Torte

The Idea:
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.

Lessons Learned:
-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....

What's Next:
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!