20 August 2011

The Chocolate Cake and Review on the "Baking"-book

On the 17th of August, CJ turned 17.  

Last year Heidi-Mari did a course on baking from “Baking” by James Peterson.  This book covers Cakes; Pies, Tarts and Pastries; Cookies; Breads, Quick Breads and Bread-Based Desserts; and Custards, Soufflés, Fruit Curds and Mousses.  We learned so much from this book, which is filled with 350 recipes and techniques on baking, illustrated with 1500 photographs.  Since I’m a Visual learner, the photographs makes me understand his techniques like I’m standing next to him in his own kitchen.
Through out last year we learned about the different basic cakes. 

Did you know while there are hundreds of different kinds of cakes, there are really only six basic kinds? 
Did you know virtually all cakes and pastries are made up of four basic ingredients, but the amazing variety is the result of manipulating the four basic ingredients in different ways?

Heidi-Mari and I had a ball playing around with the different kinds of cakes.

We learned basic techniques which we now apply to any recipe in any other recipe book, though we prefer to bake from the ‘Baking’ book.

Next were various frosting, fillings and glazes. This opened a whole new world of decorating a cake.  

We were in the habit of using only one filling for our cakes, but a cake can be made so much more dramatic by using two or more in the same cake.

The part on assembling cakes put our baking in a totally new league.  

The kind of cakes you see in coffee shops, were now possible for us to create too!  
So when CJ asked if he could invite friends over for coffee on his birthday, Heidi-Mari handed him the book. He could choose a cake with any kind of filling, frosting or glaze in any combination he fancied.  And he did just THAT!  

He chose his favourite cake, a chocolate sponge cake (made with 85% Lindt chocolate), a hazel nut meringue, buttercream flavoured with a nut butter, chocolate mouse and chocolate glaze.    Next Heidi-Mari and I brainstormed on how to incorporate all these into a cake.  

We enjoyed it so much, working on this cake - it took us two days - but the end product was amazing and mouth watering delicious!
I thought I’d share it with you.

You will need: 
1 Chocolate Sponge Cake (at least 9 inches in diameter)
5 cups Pecanut flavoured buttercream
1 ½  cups coffee liqueur flavoured simple syrup
2 dacquoise disks
2 cups rum flavoured chocolate mousse
1 cup dark chocolate glaze (prepare just before assembling the cake)
left over cake crumbs
A springform pan
Chocolate Sponge Cake
(makes 2 round layer cakes - 9 x 1 ½ inches)
Butter and flour for the cake pans
225g (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (I used 85% Lindt chocolate)
1 cup cold water
8 eggs, slightly warmed
1 cup sugar
1 ½  cups cake flour
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter and flour two 9 by 1 ½ inch round cake pans.
  • Combine the chocolate and water in a small saucepan and heat the mixture over low heat while stirring with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of smooth pudding. Remove from the heat. 
  • Combine the eggs and sugar and beat on high speed with a stand mixer for about 12 minutes or with a handheld mixer for about 20 minutes, or until quadrupled in volume and the ribbon stage: when the beater is lifted, the mixture falls in a wide band onto the surface, forming a figure eight that stays for 5 seconds before dissolving.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate mixture with the eggs while sifting the flour over the mixture. Alternate between adding flour - about one-fourth at a time - and folding until the flour is no longer visible.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Detach the cakes from the sides of the pans by running a metal spatula or small knife around the edges.  
  • After the cakes have cooled for 10 minutes, turn them out onto a cake rack.
Simple Syrup
(makes 1 ½ cups)
¾  cup sugar
¾  cup hot water
4 tablespoons or more Chocolate liqueur or fruit brandy
  • In a bowl, combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Let the syrup cool to just slightly warm, or chill it over a bowl of ice water, and add the chocolate liqueur.
Professional-Style Buttercream
(Makes 5 cups)
2 cups sugar
⅔  cups water plus more as needed
8 egg yolks, slightly warmed
1 ½  cups cold butter, cut into cubes
Pecanut butter for flavoring
  • Put the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • While the syrup is cooking, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the yolks on high speed for about 8 minutes, or until they have quadrupled in volume and are very pale.
  • While the egg yolks are beating, check the syrup for the softball stage, with a thermometer it should measure 114 degrees C. If the syrup is ready before the egg yolks, add 1 tablespoon of water to the syrup and keep simmering.
  • When the syrup and yolks are ready, turn the mixer to high speed and pour the syrup into the yolks between the whisk and the sides of the bowl.  It is important to keep the syrup from touching the whisk or the bowl because it will harden into little globules, which will break off into the buttercream.  (Don’t worry, a few are unavoidable.)   Continue beating the egg yolk-sugar mixture until it is just slightly warmer than room temperature (hold your hand on the bottom of the mixer bowl; ideally, it should feel neither hot nor cold).
  • Turn down the mixer speed to medium and add the butter cubes, a small handful at a time.  Wait until each batch is absorbed before adding more.  Beat for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and fluffy.  
  • Beat in a 1/4 cup nut paste per 1 cup buttercream until fully incorporated.
Hazelnut Meringue (Dacquoise)
(makes 3 round meringue disks 9 by ¼ -inch)
1 ½  cups hazelnuts or blanched almonds
1 ¼  cups sugar
3 tablespoons cake flour
Butter for the tart rings
8 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar, unless using a copper bowl
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them for about 15 minutes, or until you can smell their aroma. Remove and set aside to cool.  Turn down the oven to 135 degrees C.
  • In a food processor, grind the nuts with ½ cup of the sugar and the flour for about 1 minute, or until the nuts turn into a fine powder.  Take care not to process them until they become oily.
  • Butter three 9 inch tart rings and set them on parchment paper-lined sheet pans.  If you don’t have 9 inch tart rings, draw circles on the parchment paper and turn it over on the sheet pan.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) on high speed for about 4 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.  Then beat in the remaining sugar.  Continue beating for about 1 minute more, or until the egg whites are stiff and shiny.
  • Transfer the egg white mixture to a large bowl and fold in the nut mixture with a rubber spatula.
  • Fit a pastry bag with a ⅓  inch plain tip and fill it with the meringue.  Starting at the center of each tart ring or circle, pipe the meringue, gradually working out in a spiral pattern, until you have filled the ring or circle. 
  • Smooth the tops of the disks with an offset spatula.
  • Bake for about 90 minutes, or until the disks are hard, crisp, and pale brown and the center is firm to the touch.  If at any point the dacquoise starts to look too brown, turn down the oven to 100 degrees C. Let cool.
  • If you’ve used tart rings, slide a knife around the inside of the rings and pull the rings off.  Peel away the parchment paper.
Classic Chocolate Mousse
(Makes 3 cups)
170g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, cubed or sliced
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract of rum extract
1 cup heavy cream for whipping or more as needed to thin the chocolate mixture
  • Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl.
  • Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon or whisk until melted and smooth.
  • Take the bowl off the heat, leaving the saucepan of simmer water on the stove.
  • Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set it over the saucepan of barely simmering water.
  • Whisk for about 5 minutes or until pale and slightly stiff.  
  • Remove from the heat. 
  • Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. add the vanilla, and stir until well mixed.  If at this point the mixture becomes stiff or grainy, whisk in heavy cream or water, ¼ cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth.  Stir for a few minutes to cool.  Let cool to room temperature.
  • Whip the cream to soft peaks.  
  • Stir about one-fourth of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and then fold in the rest with a rubber spatula.
  • If you are using the mousse as a layer in a cake, you can use it right away provided you are making your cake in a springform pan or cake ring, which will hold the mousse in place; otherwise, chill the mousse for at least 1 hour before you use it.  (I did both)
Dark Chocolate Glaze
(makes 1 ⅓ cups)
225g bittersweet or milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup butter, cubed or sliced
  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
  • Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.
Assembling the Cake
  • Have ready a 9 ½-inch springform pan (to allow room to apply frosting to the sides).
  • Line the springform pan with plastic wrap.
  • Cut the layer cake in half crosswise, using a serrated knife.  Reserve the bottom layer for the top layer of the cake.  
  • Start by placing the top layer of the cake on the cardboard or springform pan bottom.
  • Brush the layer of cake with half of the simple syrup.
  • Fit a pastry bag with a ⅓ inch plain tip and fill with 2 cups of the buttercream.  Pipe on a layer of the buttercream in a spiral.  
  • Spread it with an offset or regular metal spatula.
  • Press a dacquoise disk on top of the buttercream.
  • Spoon all the chocolate mousse onto the dacquoise disk.
  • Spread it with an offset or regular metal spatula.
  • Press a second dacquoise disk on the chocolate mousse.
  • Pipe on another layer of buttercream in a spiral. 
  • Spread it with an offset or regular metal spatula. (Use another 2 cups of the buttercream)
  • Use the reserved bottom layer of the layer cake, turned it over, as the top layer and place on top of the buttercream.
  • Brush it with the simple syrup.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Ease open the springform pan and lift off the cake. 
  • Remove the plastic wrap.
  • Slide the ring back over the cake but don’t push it all the way down - let a small part of the ring surround the top of the cake to hold in the chocolate glaze. Fasten the springform pan.

  • Pour the glaze over the center of the cake. Rotate the cake so the glaze covers the top evenly. 
  • Chill for 30 minutes to set the glaze.
  • Ease open the springform pan and lift off the cake.
  • Mask the sides of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream using a regular metal spatula.
  • Hold the cake with one hand and use the other hand to gently press cake crumbs against the sides of the cake.
  • Decorate with buttercream rosettes.  Place a cherry or raspberry in the centre of each rosette.

The Baking book by James Peterson also taught us so much on pies, tarts and pastries, 

Custards, soufflés and fruit curds, 

Mousses too.

Basic techniques I’ve known all my life (and was taught at university) proved NOT the best method for the desired product.  

Since we started using James Peterson’s baking methods and techniques no recipe flops anymore!

We also bought two more books from James Peterson - Meat and Cooking.  More on that another time!

This posting is linked to:

With Love


Wendy said...

Wow...what a beautiful way to show love to a sibling!

Kelly-Anne said...

oh my goodness...what a cake! That is a real labour of love! I hope CJ enjoyed his cake and his birthday! Hazel

AutumnVine said...

O so lekker, amper my rekenaarskerm begin lek ;-). So bly jy vertel ons van die boek, lyk my na 'n goeie boek om te kry.

Sonja said...

Wow! Dit is sulke mooi koeke! En die laaste een het my geheel al al betower! Ek gaan dit definitief probeer! Die boek lyk ook na n goeie idee, dankie vir die deel hiervan!

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