Monday, March 20, 2017

Mandarin, Polenta, and Macadamia Cake

This month my Cake Slice Bakers cake choice was the Mandarin, Polenta, and Macadamia Cake from Roger Pizey's World Class Cake book.  I was really drawn to this recipe in part because I needed a good gluten-free cake recipe for potlucks and company.

Both my husband and I really enjoyed the texture of this cake, but my kids did not enjoy it as much.  They all seemed to think it was too gritty.  That may make this more of an adult cake, something I also don't have very many of.

I found the recipe a little confusing because I was unclear how many mandarins to use.  The recipe call for four whole mandarins which you boil several times to soften, and then pulp up in your blender or food processor.  By the time I had done three, I felt like I had more than enough pulp.  I had about 2 cups by that point and so left out the fourth.  I wish I knew how much I was supposed to end up with.

Mandarin Pulp

I also felt like the cake was too sour, and this opinion was shared by everyone in my family.  There was definitely too much peel in the cake mix for our tastes.  It's possible that the mandarins we get on the East Coast of the US in March aren't quite as sweet as they might be closer to the source.  I think the next time I make this cake, I'll pulp two whole mandarins and then add one more peeled mandarin.  Hopefully, that won't make the cake mixture two wet.  I also wonder about using something other than macadamia nuts. They're difficult to find where I live and pretty expensive.  So I might try another kind of nut the next time.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Victoria Sponge Cake

It's the twentieth which means it's time for my Cake Slice Bakers' post.  This month I baked a Victoria Sponge Cake two ways.  It seemed a no-brainer that this would be my pick for the month given that my daughter and I have been feasting our eyes of Victoria, and my Anglophile son thinks I should become an expert on anything that makes an appearance on the Great British Baking Show.

This is basically two vanilla layers with whipped cream and jam in between.  The recipe calls for strawberry jam, but I opted to use one of my last jars of homemade blueberry jam for a little taste of summer in February.

I had no problems baking the cake, and the family loved it.  I do need to work a little bit on my powdered sugar dusting technique.  It was a little squisy when I cut a slice, but that could be because I put a little more filling in than was called for.

World Class Cakes has an alternate form the author calls a Fairy Cake.  To me they looked like butterflies, so I decided to give it a go as a candidate for the daughter's birthday party in May.  To make the butterfly, I cut the top off the cupcake, sliced it in half, and used it for wings.  I used my own buttercream recipe for the frosting and flavored some of it with some strawberry jam.  World Class Cakes has its own buttercream recipe, but I found it a little fiddely for my tastes. 

I put a little strawberry jam in the middle of the cupcakes before frosting.  I thought to try to insert it with a pastry bag, but the cake was too dense for that.  Instead, I caught a little divot out and filled it with the strawberry jam.  I might try adding the jam before baking next time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lemon Drizzle Cake

January was my first bake with the Cake Slice Bakers, and one of this month's choices was just the solution to the chocolate overload that Christmas brought.  This year we're baking from Roger Pizey's World Class Cakes, and I opted for the Lemon Drizzle Cake.  I followed the recipe exactly, except substituting regular granulated sugar for the superfine sugar called for.  

The cake had a great lemon taste, and the drizzle really did add something special to both the taste and the moistness.  As you can see from the picture, I had a little problem with it sticking to my pan.  Greasing and flouring the pan should solve that problem.

It was a really easy recipe to put together and would be perfect for a brunch or for afternoon company.  I could also imagine giving it as a gift.  My family really enjoyed it!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

King Arthur Bake Along, January

January's King Arthur Bake Along was for pizza rolls.   Last Saturday's snowy day seemed like the perfect opportunity to set dough to rise, turn on the oven and produce something special for my crew. The recipe uses milk in the dough, which I was a little suspect of.  However, it worked out great. It was much stretchier and sturdier than the dough I usually use.  No unexpected tears, easy to roll into a consistent thickness, and relatively easy to shape into a rectangle.  Definitely a recipe to save and try again.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Yule Log, Takes 1 and 2

Inspired by an article in the Washington Post, I decided this would be the Christmas to attempt a Yule Log. Their cake was a vanilla cake with nutella filling and whipped cream topping.  We're a chocolate family, so I spent some time searching for an alternate recipe.  I finally decided on the cake recipe from Bon Appetit, but decided to fill it with a chocolate Mascarpone mouse.  The recipe said to bake for 10-12 minutes at 375.  I checked at 10 minutes, and it was obviously finished.  That recipe has you pre-roll, let cool, unroll and then paint with a simple syrup before spreading on the filling.  the cake was definitely over-cooked, and it completely fell apart when I attempted to re-roll it filled.

Attempt two: same recipe for the cake, but I lowered the temperature to 350.  Also, I followed the technique in World Class Cakes of painting when it first comes out of the over, filling, and then rolling inside the towel.  I had issues with cake sticking to the towel (should have sprinkled flour on the towel as in the first method), and the filling melted as I rolled.  I did put it into the refrigerator still rolled in the towel, and was thus able to save something.  I covered the roll in whipped cream and decorated with the meringue mushrooms.

Lessons for take 3:

1.  Roll long side.  I was rolling from the short side which I think is what contributed to the cracking in take 1.  Neither recipe mentioned rolling from the long side.
2.  Follow Washington Post method of assembling - sprinkle powdered sugar on towel, flip out cake, peel off parchment paper, dust cake with sugar, place clean side of parchment paper back on cake, and pre-roll long side.  Make the roll as tight as possible, and let cool to room temperature.
3.  Melt the chocolate into the whipping cream before starting the cake so it has plenty of time to cool if you use the same filling.  I think the chocolate Mascarpone mouse was a little too much with the chocolate cake.
4.  Bake at 375, but check at 7 minutes.  I think my second cake was slightly underdone which contributed to it sticking to the towel.
5.  The meringue mushrooms came out perfectly.  Definitely do those again.