Monday, November 10, 2008

Leftovers, Auditions, and Other Musings

Shrek: NO! LAYERS! Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have get it? We both have layers.
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. [sniffs onion again and winces] You know, not everybody likes onions. [pause] Cakes! Everybody loves cakes! Cakes have layers!

— Shrek

Leftovers and I need to talk. Our relationship is strained, at best. To be fair, it's probably my fault. I need to work on my leftovers communication skills. "Couldn't we just dress up you a little? You'd look just as pretty as before..." "No! Go away! I'm not coming out!" G doesn't like them much, and I often can't eat them. I do try to fix them up so they'll be more palatable, but.. Well, I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Anyway, I had some leftover fondant in the pantry, which seemed about as friendly as leftovers can get. I've never really played with fondant, and I figured it might be a good time to experiment.

Step one: make something to go underneath the fondant. I pondered this for a bit, and decided to kill two bird one stone (in a less violent, proverbial way). Because little known to you, I have a culinary quest. It is a great quest, and instills fear in the hearts of the mighty. At least, I like to think so, because it certainly instills fear in my heart. I have tried before, and failed. I will probably fail several more times before I get it right. But I must be brave. I like to think of myself and my whisk as a stoic combination.

My goal is to make a seven-layer cake. And not just any seven-layer cake. A seven-layer cake like the one G's mother used to by from the fancy Swiss bakery down the street. I made Dobostorte, but that was definitely wrong. So my next attempt will be Prinzregententorte. I have a recipe, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that what he wants is really a house variation of Prinzregententorte. So I may have to figure out the components, piece by piece.

So, then, why not hold Prinzregententorte auditions underneath my fondant? (Said I to myself.) And I did. I must say an awful lot of egg yolks were involved, but it was generally well-received. The buttercream is a keeper, the cake not so much. Not that there's anything really wrong with it, just that we've concluded he wants a sponge cake and not a butter cake.

Step two: What do you do with your fondant once it's on top? This question (perhaps to my detriment) I pondered while running. Food sounded really good. Really, really good. The first thing that came to mind was Thanksgiving, so the next thing was a cornucopia. And thus my cake was born. It didn't turn out very well, but hopefully I learned from my mistakes.


Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Fondant (from The Cake Bible)
1 tablespoon gelatin (10 grams)
3 tablespoons water (45 grams)
½ cup corn syrup (164 grams)
1 tablespoon glycerine (18 grams)
2 tablespoons solid white shortening (24 grams)
8 cups powdered sugar (920 grams)

3 large egg yolks (56 grams)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (75 grams)
¼ cups corn syrup (82 grams)
1 cup unsalted butter (227 grams)
1 tablespoon Godiva chocolate liqueur (14 grams)
3 ounces chocolate, preferably bittersweet

6 large egg yolks (112 grams)
1 cup milk (242 grams)
2¼ teaspoons vanilla (9 grams)
3 cups sifted cake flour (300 grams)
1½ cups sugar (300 grams)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder (19.5 grams)
¾ teaspoon salt (5 grams)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (170 grams)

Place several cups of water on the stove and bring to a moderate simmer.

Pour 3 tablespoons water into a heatproof measuring cup, and sprinkle gelatin on top. Allow mixture to sit for five minutes. Pour hot water into large pan, and place measuring cup in the water bath. Stir gelatin, until it melts and no clumps are visible.

Add corn syrup, glycerine, and shortening. Stir until everything is melted, as much as six or seven minutes. The hot water bath may need to be replaced (or reheated) if it becomes too cold.

Measure out powdered sugar into extra-large bowl. Pour syrup over sugar. Lightly grease a wooden spoon, and stir sugar and syrup thoroughly. When no more sugar can be incorporated with the spoon, lightly grease hands and knead fondant in bowl. Try to incorporate all the powdered sugar into a ball of fondant (this may take a while). Turn out fondant onto a smooth, clean surface. Knead several more times to form a smooth ball. If fondant is sticky, add a bit more powdered sugar. If you are unable to incorporate all the sugar, add a few drops of water.

Wrap ball tightly with plastic wrap, and place in airtight container. Let sit at least three hours before rolling out. Fondant will keep a month at room temperature, or indefinitely in the freezer.

Place 1 cup butter on counter (it must be soft when used). Heave ready a greased 1-cup heatproof glass measuring cup.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until light in color. Meanwhile, combine sugar and corn syrup in a nonstick saucepan. Heat, constantly stirring, until mixture is bubbling throughout. Immediately pour into heatproof cup.

Turn the mixer off and pour a small amount of sugar in with egg yolks. Immediately beat for five seconds at high speed. Turn mixer off and add larger amount; beat again. Repeat until all sugar mixture is incorporated. Use a spatula to get all the sugar out of the heatproof cup. Continue beating until completely cool.

Gradually beat in butter, liqueur, and chocolate. Place in an airtight bowl. Buttercream will keep for 6 hours at room temperature, or a week in the refrigerator.

Butter two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper, then butter again and flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine yolks, ¼ cup milk, and vanilla. Place dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer. Beat 30 seconds on low speed to combine. With mixer still on low speed, add butter and remaining ¾ cup milk (gradually); beat 1 minute 30 seconds on medium to aerate and develop structure. Add yolk mixture, in thirds, beating 20 seconds after each addition. Pour into prepared pans and shake pans gently to smooth top.

Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched lightly. It should not pull away from the sides of the pan until removal from the oven. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool to room temperature before continuing (reinvert to prevent splitting).

Place one cake layer on a plate, then spread with buttercream. Top with second cake layer. On a clean, greased surface and using a greased rolling pin, roll out the fondant to 13 inches. Drape over cake and smooth with greased hands in a circular motion, working from the center out. Cut fondant at the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife.

To color fondant, place in a food processor with coloring. Process until fondant is evenly colored and comes back together to form a mass. Allow to cool slightly before using.


My Sweet & Saucy said...

I think it turned out cute! I love the little grapes! You are too hard on yourself.

Seamuffin said...

You're far too generous. :) But I really appreciate the encouragement. Thanks!