Monday, 30 July 2007

Daring Bakers July Challenge - I did it!

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
The Cake
3 eggs
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

Strawberry Mirror
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring

Strawberry Juice
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.

Prep Work
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.

Strawberry Mirror
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.

Strawberry Juice

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


The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

That look yum. I think I put too much colouring in mine, your bavarian cream looks more "strawberry".

Well done.

Sorry to be a pain, but you published on my site but I had to re-do it and lost your comment. It would be wonderful if you could comment again. Thanks!

Anh said...

You have made a very nice cake!!!! It's really lovely! Well-done.

Anne said...

It looks sooo delicious and very pretty too! I'm glad you were able to do the challenge :)

Andrea said...

Congratulations, you did a great job!

marye said...

That is beautiful! Nice job....

Leslie said...

Your cake came out beautifully!!!! I had the same problem with the bavarian coming up to the top....except I'm an idiot and splashed strawberry goo all across my counter...


Minik Kus said...

This is really fantastic! Great job, congrats!

Tartelette said...

Well done on your first challenge! Even though we all have atried and true where cakes are concerned it is always interestig to work anohte recipe. I am glad you joined us for the ride!

Peabody said...

So sorry that you had to spend so much money for strawberries. Sometimes it is hard when you live across the world to remember who has what avaiable.
Well done on your first challenge, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

sher said...

I forgot to put the food coloring in my bavarian cream--so it looks very pallid compared to your beautiful cake!

KJ said...

Hi Dharm. What a lovely cake and fantastic effort.

gilly said...

Way to go on your first DB challenge! It sounds like you really had a great time with it - you did a wonderful job!

Jerry said...

Congrats on your first challenge! Looks wonderful!

breadchick said...

YEA!! Dharm, you cake is lovely and I'm so glad you are member of the Daring Bakers. Great job on your first challenge.

p.s. your kids are adorable, frosting those cookies!

Hilda said...

Congratulations on a beautiful cake! I also didn't think I could do it when I first read the recipe, but after re-reading it like you I figured I might as well try it and see. But funnily enough I got comments and I tend to agree that a mango variation might taste much better! I'm going to try it soon. =)

Sara said...

Looks wonderful, your mirror is so red! I wonder how mangos would work in this cake.

Lis said...

Dharm you did an OUTSTANDING job! I am so happy it worked out for you and that you went for it even though the berries were expensive.

Very impressive job.. way to go!


Deborah said...

I'm glad you decided to do the challenge. It turned out beautifully!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Awesome Dharm! You did such a great job! I am impressed that you wen't ahead and did strawberries! great job!

Anita said...

Great job - what a fantastic debut into Daring Bakers!

Ivonne said...

Congratulations! You did an amazing job on your first challenge and your cake turned out lovely!!!

Mary said...

You are officially one of us now. Very well done!

Chris said...

Great job!

Dharm said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments. I'm sorry I wasnt able to see everyones cakes but the ones I visited were all lovely! I'm so glad to be a part of this group!

Anonymous said...

Great job Dharm!!! Woohoo!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow oh Wow,
You have come to the right party my friend Dhram! You sounded so like me with your "I think I'm too clever for my own good." You have experienced my ideal Daring Baker challenge: somethings went so perfect, somethings just totally came undone but the ending was happy. Great cake! Wonderful experience! Glad you've joined us.

Heather said...

I think you made a heck of good looking cake, but I have seen the other cakes you haven constructed and had no doubt you would. Welcome to the group.

Patricia Scarpin said...

It looks wonderful!

Belinda said...

Yet another tempting Daring Bakers cake! And it looks simply incredible, I might add. :-)

sunita said...

Congrats on completing your first db challenge...the cake looks lovely.

Kelly-Jane said...

You did really well, lovely mirror cake :)

Cheryl said...

You did so fantastic. I'm very proud of you. It looks beautiful.

Culinarily Curious said...

I love the way you approached the challenge as a learning experience -- and then shared what you learned along the way. Welcome, and congratulations on a lovely cake!

Elle said...

You did a great job! Your cake is very pretty and has a good mirror, too. Glad you are a Daring Baker and that you went the extra mile by using strawberries. Can't wait to see what you do with next month's challenge. Bet it will be fab.

Mel said...

It looks super!! Your gelatin just lies there so nicely, well-done--and you want even more?! You rock!!

Inne said...

Great cake, Dharm. Glad you all enjoyed the results.

Quellia said...

Beautiful work!

Laura said...

I'm late coming to see the great job you did on the challenge, it looks amazing, well done!


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