Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers' March Challenge: Perfect Party Cake

DB 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 slice of the cake


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.


Perfect Party Cake


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.

34 comments:

Gigi said...

Yes! A chocolate version! You did a beautiful job on your cake!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely substitutions. I want to try some chocolate in this cake, it looks like it would be good. Sorry it dried out too much for you! Great job!

L Vanel said...

Sorry to hear your cake wasn't a smashing hit. There will be so many other opportunities to serve another cake! When things don't go just right, sometimes I take comfort knowing I'll be able to serve something better next time. Your photos are beautiful.

Engineer Baker said...

Chocolate and orange - yum! And good idea getting rid of the yucky buttercream, I should have done that too! Thanks for the tips on the refrigeration side of things too!

coco said...

Beautiful cake! Chocolate and coconut sounds like a wonderful combination.

Andrea said...

Oh, I feel for you! I still think your cake looks and sounds delicious! Great job on the challenge.

Ann said...

It LOOKS beautiful and I'm sure if it had been at room temperature it would have tasted fabulous! Did you try it a few hours later? How was it?

Meeta said...

chocolate mousse and ganache oh you are a girl after my own heart!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

So many white cakes, and here you are with chocolate -- now that is what I call the perfect party cake!

Cheryl said...

I would love to try this cake with a chocolate frosting next time. Sorry to hear that it dried out on you. But it sure looks great.

Shayne said...

Warda you are so cute, I was grateful for the chance to try the cake before I made it and I learned a lot about it for when I made it and I thank you for that. I just feel bad that Z would not eat it because of her dislike for chocolate (I am not sure who's child she is) but L loved it. I think Niko liked yours more then mine because mine had too much going on.

Oh, yes I often serve things that I have never made before, I like living on the edge. However, I think your mother is probably right.

Merav said...

Oh I'm sorry the cake dried out but your flavour combinations sure do sound delicious!

Deborah said...

I am often guilty of serving a new recipe to guests - I'm so sorry it didn't work out for you! But it does look beautiful!

Jenny said...

Chocolate and orange are my favorite flavor combination and I'm so sad that the cake dried out! I'm sure it would have been lovely otherwise.

RecipeGirl said...

Well it sure looked good! I wish I had thought to turn mine into a chocolate sort of cake. Yummy ganache might have been better than ultra-rich buttercream!

CollyWolly said...

Whoohoo Warda-Rose what a magnificent cake. And my favorite flavor combos too.....pity about the dry air in the fridge, but I am sure it was not as bad as you say :) Just disappointing non?? Whipped ganache???? Mousse????? I could climb through this screen and take a large slice!! Well done! xx

Christine said...

Tiens Warda,

Isn't it incredible how just a little refrigeration can turn things from great to so-so? I've made so many of these small-yet-significant errors when entertaining because I made something unfamiliar for guests, yet I still continue to try new dishes whenever I have guests. I'm with Shayne here, I also like to live on the edge a bit :)

The cake still looks nice in the photo (not so Sahara dry at all). And orange with chocolate are always winning combos!

Jenny said...

It happens, doesn't it? Sometimes the best of intentions goes awry. Your cake looked lovely and probably tasted like it looked, after it warmed up a bit. :-)

Shandy said...

Your photo of the cake is absolutely beautiful! I think that sometimes we bakers are way to hard on ourselves and expect perfection always. You did great! You even learned something not to do in the future and now you are an even better baker AND the cake still tasted great, but you just needed to let it sit out for a while longer. I am sure your guests will understand a little imperfection and you will all have something to smile about in remembrance in the future =).

Astra Libris said...

Oh, I'm sure the cake was scrumptious! The baker is always one's own toughest critic... Orange and chocolate - oh my! I'm sure your guests were delighted!

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

What a letdown to have your cake change from refrigerating. For what it's worth, the chocolate and orange combo sounds sinful!

Lunch Buckets said...

I really hate it when my mother's right. Seriously! What am I? 12? I'm so sorry it didn't work out for you - it certainly looks good.

Foodie Froggy said...

Ah!!! Je savais que ton gâteau serait à tomber, and I was right !! Il donne vraiment très, très envie. Quelle bonne idée de se débarasser de la buttercream, moi non plus je ne suis pas fan, mais je n'ai pas osé aller aussi loin dans la "rébellion", lol !!

mima said...

Warda,ton gateau est à tomber!!!Quelle tentatrice tu fais!!!comment ne pas succomber...
Je veux le mème pour mon anniversaire...Qui a léché les casseroles??Biz

Joey Biscotti said...

it still looks yummy!!!

Chuck said...

What a beautiful cake. I'm very impressed and I bet it tastes as good as it looks too!!

Julie said...

Oh, it looks wonderful! A shame about its dryness, but I don't think that should prevent you from serving untried recipes to guests. I do that every month with the DB challenges, and it's always fun for all of us. =D

I(dot)J said...

Love the chocolate. Your cake looks great.. love the decorating style

Princess of the kitchen said...

Logvely cake. Like the different take on the challenge and the white coconut looks pretty against the choc.
Well done

Katy said...

Excellent! I really liked this recipe -- it's my favorite Daring Bakers creation so far!

Jerry said...

Chocolate! Yummy! Looks wonderful!

wmpe said...

Your cake looks delicious. I am sorry it dried out. I refrigerated my cake too and found it dry, then I left it on the counter it moistened back up. Nice cake!

Tartelette said...

Sorry to hear the cake did not turn out as you wanted. It sure looks divine!

Tara said...

Well it looks pretty! :-) I'm sure with a big enough glass of milk it tasted good too! I'm kidding... stuff like that happens to me from time to time when I cook or bake something new and I just HATE it! But thanks for sharing this story to prevent the rest of us from making the same mistake! :-)