Sunday, March 30, 2008
Daring Bakers' March Challenge: Perfect Party Cake
I had mixed feelings about this month’s challenge. Obviously, I was very happy to see one of Dorie Greenspan’s mouthwatering recipes finally featured for the Daring Bakers to explore. On the other hand, the “Perfect Party Cake” seemed to be a little too grandiose for only two adults and a toddler; and I hate any cake that has butter cream as a filling or frosting.
My plans were made. My mission was clear:
1- I had to substitute another filling and frosting for the yucky butter cream. In this case, I made a chocolate mousse for the filling and a Ganache Soufflé (Whipped chocolate) for the frosting.
2- Since I was going for a chocolate and orange combination, I used orange zest in the batter instead of lemon zest and brushed the cake with an orange marmalade instead of the strawberry jam.
A few weeks ago, I was having a friend of mine, and her family over for dinner. I decided to make this cake hoping it will be the perfect party dessert.
I made the cake a day ahead. The cake was very easy to work with, much easier than making a basic genoise. It rose perfectly in the oven and has a crumbly and soft texture when it cooled down. I wrapped it up and stored it at room temperature for tomorrow to be filled and frosted.
The following day, I made the chocolate mousse, which was delicious, and frosted the cake with ganache soufflé and decorated the edges with coconut flakes.
I believe my next step was what turned this Perfect Party Cake into Perfect Hall of Shame Cake: I refrigerated the cake and served it to my poor guests only half an hour after getting it out of the fridge. And it was cold that day.
Having used a chocolate mousse as a filling and heavy cream for my ganache soufflé, I though I should refrigerate the cake to let it set. It was a mistake. The cake that once was so moist, so delicate, and so fragrant suddenly turned out into a dried Sahara desert.
Still my guests ate it all. They were polite and nice to me. But I couldn’t retain my disappointment. I couldn’t believe I served them something I have never made before (My mother always warns me not to try new things when I have people over. I didn’t listen to her. Again!)
And the worst of it all is that I had the nerve to wear a big, proud smile on my face when I was bringing the cake to the table.
I couldn’t take it much longer. I had to confess my sins. Especially when I saw my husband, the one who is supposed to support me no matter what I serve, rolling the cake in his mouth for hours and giving me the look of I know what's wrong with this cake. I had to speak. I had to speak before someone else does. I spoke: “ The cake is kind of dry! I think it would have been nice to brush it with a syrup to moisten it a bit”. They all nodded in agreement as if they were just waiting for the toddlers to start screaming of despair or for somebody to explode and throw the cake at me and wipe this smile off of my face once and for all.
I am exaggerating a bit. The cake didn’t end up in the trash, but still, it was a big disappointment and I take full responsibility for it. Though the texture was quite nice the following day when I left out for more then two hours before having a slice.
Bottom line, the sponge cake itself was great, and I will use this recipe again instead of the genoise. But this time I won’t refrigerate it. But if I have too, I will serve it two hours after getting it out of the fridge.
So thank you morven for this baking lesson and for this month’s challenging challenge.