Monday, March 21, 2011

Intimidated by Cake / Local Business Shout Out

Actually, it's probably more accurate to say I am intimidated by the creator/baker of the cake.  I've owned Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible for years - decades, actually.  I've baked from it before.  Somehow over the years though, it began to intimidate me.  Rose is, after all, THE authority on cake baking and I do have such a hard time following instructions.  The self-doubt was creeping in.  I've been wanting to make her Golden Grand Marnier Cake for quite some time.  It's been on my mind the last couple of weeks and I've been very adept at finding excuses to put off making it.  Today, I decided to stop making excuses and bake the blasted cake.  I would like to say I followed the instructions implicitly, but that would be a lie.

Fresh from the oven with their first shower of syrup.

Believe it or not, I had a few squares of Ghirardelli 72% and 86% dark chocolate left over from Valentine's Day.  Those coupled with some coarsely chopped 60% chocolate chips took the place of the mini chips.  The recipe calls for ground, slivered almonds.  My original thought had been to just use some almond flour I already had on hand.  Except I didn't have any on hand and I found myself not enamoured by the idea of mucking up the food processor to grind almonds.  I used an equal weight of all-purpose flour.  Though I had saved orange zest from the orange I juiced for the bourbon and brown sugar pound cake, it wasn't enough.  We had just bought tangerines, so tangerine it was, as well as for the juice in the soaking syrup.  And as much as I wanted to revert to my method of mixing, I did follow her instructions for that.  Very begrudgingly, but she's the expert.  And I don't have a 9-cup fluted tube pan.  I do have a 6-cake bundt-lette pan, and that plus six cupcakes worked perfectly.
Out of the pan and ready for more boozy syrup.

Despite what seemed like my attempts to force failure, it all worked.  They even came out of the pan beautifully, about which I had been extremely concerned.  (As much as I often find fault with Wilton, their Cake Release works amazingly well.)  I was absolutely thrilled. 

But now they needed glaze.  I used Rose's recipe for Chocolate Cream Glaze, which really is nothing more than a medium-thin ganache with a bit of liqueur added after the ganache is blended.  Very tasty, though I think the technique may be a little more complicated than necessary.  But again, she's the expert.

All snuggled in with a lovely coat of Grand Marnier infused ganache.

Using the cake flour gave the cake a very light, airy texture.  And while I had at one point considered this as a tier for the wedding cake, it's quite clear that as is, it will not support the weight of fondant and certainly not tiers stacked on top of it.  Using all-purpose flour instead of cake flour may give it more strength and I may experiment with that in the future, especially since a-p flour is much less expensive than cake flour.  But in considering that there are usually children at weddings, I've come to the conclusion that if I do use alcohol in the cake, it must be confined to just one tier and clearly identified as such.  I certainly don't want to be contributing to the delinquency of minor wedding guests.  (But I do so think the bourbon and brown sugar pound cake would be awesome at a barbecue!)

My reward.  I love that chunk of dark chocolate right in the middle.

And now to the local business shout out:

If you've not yet been to La Unica Bakery (213 West Main in Carbondale), you need to go.  Right now.  Drop what you are doing and go.  Yes, parking is inconvenient (in the back) but you'll get over it.  The hubs and I stopped in last Wednesday.  He had a bread stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos, I had one stuffed with cream cheese and covered in slivered almonds.  We also picked up a croissant (not totally authentic, but very good) and a small batard.  Our total was less than $3.00.  If we lived closer I would be there daily.