Friday, April 20, 2007

Strawberry Celebration Cake

We had a great time last Sunday celebrating the April birthdays with a fantastic outdoor cookout cum potluck dinner.

The hospitable host BP and her husband made most of the yummy food. Too bad I didn't bring a camera to capture the spread. But the grilled chicken and fish were excellent! That made me really envy those who have access to an outdoor grill when the weather turns warmer. OCT and I had fun tending the backup grill, and grilled some sweet potatoes and pork!(both were yummy too!)

Of course a birthday party gave me a perfectly good excuse to bake a cake! I was the usual ambitious self when it comes to celebration cake. I made a chocolate strawberry cake, which consists of chocolate genoise with chocolate mousse, whipped cream with strawberries sandwiched in the center and dark chocolate ganache. With my very limited skill, the genoise layers came out uneven and the eggs in the mousse scrambled, before the right temperature was achieved. I threw away the first batch, and started over again, but the texture didn't improved. Because the mousse tasted fine after straining, I decided to keep it and spread the thin mousse over the genoise. Another layer of whipped cream and strawberries was then added to help to heighten the cake, literally.

Without a proper cake ring, the appearance of the cake suffered. Look at the untidy edges! Not even the thick ganache can do its trick to camouflage that! The decoration on top was OCT's idea eventhough I was the one executed it. White chocolate and fresh fruits are really handy when a novice baker like myself needs to decorate (and camouflage all the flaws!) a cake.

Making this cake is a great learning process. Through the cake, I learned:
- how to make the chocolate genoise, finally. After procastinating for so long.
-the important of using the right instrument the task required. When the recipe required instant thermometer, DON'T use a candy thermometer. It detects temperature too slowly!
-Don't pester your husband when he is watching his favorite tv show, (eventhough he has watched it a dozen times before) or risk being reproached.
-Start planning and baking early and have backup plans in case the cake doesn't turn out the way it should.
-I need to buy an instant read thermometer and some cake rings!( hopefully some decorative tips too)

Though laborious, this is one cake that I don't mind making again and again, eventhough I have a really long to-try-list awaiting.

Here's the recipe of the genoise, a great building block for this yummy cake.

Chocolate Genoise:
adapted from Alice Medrich's

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup sifted (before measuring) all purpose flour
1/3 cup sifted (before measuring) Dutch processed cocoa powder
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper.

To clarify the butter: in a very small saucepan, or in a narrow glass jar in the microwave, heat the butter without stirring, until it mleted and very hot. The butter will separate into foam on top, clear yellow oil beneath, and water plus some milk solids on the bottom. Simply spoon off and discard the foam on the surface. Transfer 3 tablespoons of the clear yellow butter to a medium heatproof bowl. Add the vanilla to the bowl and set aside.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder three times, return to the sifter and set aside.

In a large heatproof bowl, preferably the bowl of your electric mixer, use a whisk to combine the eggs and sugar thoroughly. Place the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the eggs to lukewarm (about 105F). With an electric mixer, beat the egg mixture at high speed until it has cooled , is tripled in volume, and resembled softly whipped cream. This may takes 3 to 5 minutes, or longer with a less powerful mixer.

Meanwhile, set the bowl of butter and vanilla mixture in the skillet of hot water, with the burner turned off to keep warm.

Sift about one third of the flour and cocoa over the whipped eggs. Use your largest rubber spatula to fold the mixture, quickly but gently, until combined. Fold in half the remaining flour, then fold in the rest. Remove the butter mixture from the skillet. Scoop about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl and fold together until completely combined. Fold the butter mixture into the remaining mixture. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and tilt to level.

Bake until the cake begins to shrink slighly around the edges and the top springs back when pressed with finger, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack.

To unmold, run a small knife or spatula around the inner edges of the pan to release the cake. Invert it onto a rack and remove the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up, so that the skin on top of the cake does not stick to the rack. (The genoise can be wrapped and refrigerated for 2 days or frozen up to 3 months.)

I used the chocolate ganache made
here to cover the cake.


bp said...

Thank you so very much for this very yummy and great-looking cake, that we all enjoyed! I especially like the rum in it ;p

Suzanne said...

What a beautiful cake! Just curious, did you use a soaking syrup for the cake? If so, was a liqueur added to the syrup? I’m wondering what kind of liqueur you would use with strawberries. Thank you!

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