Yes! Yeeeehah! I did it! I didn't think I could. Then I thought I could but didnt think I would - mainly because the main ingredient was Strawberries and they dont come cheap here in Malaysia. But I finally did it and it turned out great!
The July Challenge for the Daring Bakers was a Strawberry Mirror Cake. I'd never even heard of a Mirror Cake before! As I mentioned before, Strawberries dont come cheap in Malaysia. Even the local variety grown in the highlands dont come cheap. You can get the frozen kind but that runs pretty expensive too - at any rate, whichever strawberries I chose, I was gonna have to spend quite a bit - especially since so many strawberries are required. This was why I thought I wouldnt enter the challenge.
But then, this was my very first Daring Bakers challenge. Was money going to be such an obstructing factor? Some of the helpful DBs suggested I used mangoes instead but I decided I'd just take the plunge and splurge a little on this cake. For after all, without taking the plunge, nothing would be learnt. So I rationalised that I was just investing in my own advancement! :)
Looking at the challenge, I knew first off that this was something that I wouldn't normally attempt. I read the recipe, then read it again and re-read it, again and again and again. It seemed rather complicated with so many parts to it. But the more I read it, the more convinced I became that I would be able to make it. So.. One Saturday morning (the 14th to be exact), I woke up really early and decided to do it! This is how it went.
First step: the cake.
I have my own recipe for a sponge cake which turns out well each time. When I looked at this particular recipe, the 6 eggs and the need to separate the yolks and whites got me a little worked up. Too Complicated I screamed. But the spirit was to follow the recipe to a tee - and so I did.... The one deviation (this was allowed in the rules) I made was to use two round cake pans - simply because I dont have a large enough Jelly roll or Swiss Roll pan. The pans I used were smaller than my springform to save me having to cut it to size. Having read some of the DB posts, this meant that the cake would be larger/higher than needed - but I didnt pay much attention to that - more of that later.
Verdict? This is probably the best, nicest, tastiest, fluffiest Sponge cake I have ever produced. It turned out a little more yellowish than I'm used to but that may be because of the amount of eggs used? Anyway, I'm definitely using this recipe from now on for my Sponge Cakes!
Step Two: Strawberry Bavarian.
This was relatively easy and not as complicated as the recipe made out to be. Granted, making the Custard took some time but as I've made custard before for homemade ice-cream, I did have some prior experience. The other problem I had was with the gelatine in the Strawberry Puree. The gelatine just sort of sat there and didnt get spongy as the recipe said it would. So I stirred it a little and then everything got lumpy. However, I figured that the hot custard would melt everything and I think I was right. Everything smoothened out. I particularly liked the part where the mixture sits in a stainless steel bowl immersed in another bowl filled with cold water. It was fun seeing the strawberry mixture slowly start to thicken. After folding in the cream - it tasted rather heavenly. The Bavarian was a little sourish - but very refreshing. I'm not sure if I'd have preferred it maybe a tad bit sweeter but it was delicious all the same
Step Three: The Juice and Mirror
Again, this wasnt as complicated as it seemed. Everything turned out well but the mirror took a Loooooooong time to thicken, and I mean a really long time -probably due to the heat in Malaysia. I contemplated adding more gelatine but it did start to thicken after a long while. I think I may have added a little too much food colouring but it still turned out okay.
Step Four: Assembly
Sometimes what you think is the easiest part of the puzzle turns out to be the most difficult. Firstly, I considered omitting the part about cutting a cardboard to size, covering with foil and placing inside the springform. What a waste of time I figured. But I did it anyway - coz Thats What the Recipe Said! In hindsight, I think the purpose of this is to stop the cake from sticking to the springform - but I could be wrong. Anyway upon assembly, I think my two round cakes were a little too small (circumference wise) and a little to high. Never mind, lets just do it and see what happens. I should have paid more attention to what the other DBs had said about this but sometimes I think I'm too clever for my own good. (this is me eating humble pie) Also, in my excitement to see the finished cake, I just carried on.
To cut a long story short, there was just enough Bavarian cream to cover the second layer of cake - barely.
Pouring the mirror on was almost a disaster as the Bavarian came right up to the top of the pan - leaving very little space for the mirror. Also, the top of the cake wasnt completely flat so the mirror was thicker at the sides and very thin toward the centre. Getting the FULL pan to the fridge was another potential disaster but fortunately I got it in with minimum spillage.
Once in the fridge, the cake looked lovely while still sitting in the springform pan. I was still wary about the mirror setting but it did.
Finally: Serving and Tasting
Although warned, the mirror did break up a little at the edges even though I ran a knife all around it.
Taking the springorm off required a bit of help from my wife as I was too worried the mirror would tear. Also, some of the mirror leaked into the sides of the pan so one half/side of the cake was more red than the other. It gave it a nice effect though!
The cake cut really well and it looked lovely with the layers showing up and the mirror on top glistening. As for the taste, the cake was extremely light and refreshing. Everyone loved the Bavarian Cream and second servings were the order of the day.
What would I do differently? I think that maybe I would use more gelatine in the mirror as it really took ages to set and got me real worried as well. I'd also try and make the cake in two springforms and then cut them to size so that the layers are the correct thickness and size. Both really minor details as far as I am concerned.
All in all a very satsifying first challenge for me in the Daring Bakers! I had a lot of fun and I made something I would never have tried nor have had the confidence to do. Most importantly, everyone enjoyed the cake!
Thank you Daring Bakers! And now I proudly display their logo on my blog......
To see the other members and to get more information on the Daring Bakers, just visit The Home of the Official Daring Bakers' Blogroll
And.... this is the recipe we were given that we HAD to follow..
Strawberry Mirror Cake
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup water
1/3 cups sugar
2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree(1 ½ baskets)
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring
1 ½ pints of strawberries(18 oz)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water
1.Preheat oven to 450F. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan(rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.
2.Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.
3.In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, ad cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks(do not over beat).
4.Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
5.Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch(7 to 10 minutes). Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside. Cake may be frozen at this point.
6.To make soaking syrup: Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.
7.To assemble cake: Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
8.Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets(1 to 2 hours).
9.Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.
10.To serve: Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
1.Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.
2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl’ beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Pour hot milk into yolk mixture ans stir with a wooden spoon(it doesn’t say so but I would temper the egg mixture first to be safe). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon.(Do not boil or mixture will curdle.) Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
3.White gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.
1.Prepare strawberry juice.
2.Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.
Wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).
Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993