Thursday, May 29, 2008

Celebrate good times

I'm slowly catching up with all the comments left on my previous posts, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the kind words. Truly, the blogosphere is a community!

First, I would like to thank The Daring Bakers for the friendship and mentorship they have thrown my way. It is with sadness that I am leaving DB. This year started off busy and I can only see it getting busier. I will always be a fan and reader of many DB blogs. For all my Daring Bakers challenges click here.

A second thanks goes to the wonderful folks at Tuesdays with Dorie. I am thrilled to have been one of the pick of the weeks for my Florida Pie. I will not be leaving TWD anytime soon. After all, I still need to bake.

Here's to all my DB and TWD friends:

The two chocolate cakes use the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible. Using Ms Beranbaum's technique inhibits gluten strands from forming, resulting in an ethereal if a bit fragile texture. With the delicateness of Ms Beranbaum's cakes, spreading a stiff frosting on to the surface can sometimes cause it to tear. Also, because I often tort my cakes to have a four layers, I want my cakes to be slightly more sturdy. To this end, I increase my mixing times.

Ms Beranbaum usually mixes the first bit of liquid with the dry ingredients and butter for a minute and a half followed by three additions of the remaining liquid for 20 seconds each. I instead mix the first stage for a full two minutes followed by three one minute mixings. I hit upon the idea after reading Nick Malgieri's Perfect Cakes where he uses two minute intervals. His cakes are wonderfully sturdy but I did miss the texture of Ms Beranbaum's cakes.

My mixing times are a good compromise: the cake is slightly more dense, just as velvety, and sturdy enough for torting and icing with stiff icing. When I pull them out of the oven, the cakes are usually domed if don't use wet cake strips but they flatten perfectly on cooling.

Once again, I used my favourite Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC). Please refer to my discussion on SMBC for details. There is something comforting in seeing the butter and Swiss meringue curdle and then slowly become silky as the mixer beats on. Room temperature melted bittersweet chocolate is folded into the buttercream, resulting in a luxurious frosting. (Click on the picture to enlarge).

  • According to Nick Malgieri, a two-stage mixing method is appropriate when the weight of sugar is equal to or greater than the weight of flour. I have yet to run into a recipe that runs contrary to this.
  • Unbleached flours do not work with two-stage mixing. However, Kate of A Merrier World has found that microwaving unbleached flours can make them behave as though they were bleached.
  • Cool room temperature butter and liquid ingredients are a must when employing this method.
  • To proceed, whisk all dry ingrdients in the Kitchen Aid bowl. Then whisk all the liquids in another bowl. Add the butter, cut in tablespoon pieces, to the dry ingredients then mix on low speed for one minute until the mixture looks coarse and sandy. Add half the liquid ingredients then mix on speed #4 for two minutes. Then, add the remaining liquids in three portions, scraping then mixing on speed #4 for one minute after each addition.
  • Cake strips are good to use. However, you don't need to buy them. Cut an old towel into strips, soak in water, then wrap in aluminum foil. Pin to the sides of the pan.
  • Think of your own personal Zen when icing cakes. Fussing with buttercream tends to create a less pretty cake.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

How beautiful and scrumptious looking! A real treat!



slush said...

Oh my, I am seriously drooling right now. Well done!

slush said...

Wanted to add that Im glad your not leaving TWD! We would be so sad to see you go. :)

Andrea said...

Your cake looks lovely. I have been admiring your blog for a while. I followed your links to the sweet and salty cake on the Martha site. The caramel ganache is so frightfully good and the icing technique (which you used on this cake) is so simple.

Thank you for sharing your baking adventures.

Julie said...

Brilliant compromise on mixing technique! I'll have to remember that the next time I come across a light cake that I want to do some work on. I'll miss seeing your DB posts, but I definitely understand your having to step out! I'm glad I'll still be able to see your baking projects through TWD, though!

Mara said...

julian i love how technical your posts's such a refreshing way to read the written word when it comes to baking.

this cake looks lovely!

PheMom said...

What a beautiful cake! Wonderful job! I hope things are going better.

Anonymous said...

Ah, We will miss you at DB. I understand how busy you will be :)

Your cake is beautiful!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Glad to hear that you'll be sticking with TWD for a while, we need your inspiration and good tips!

"Think of your own personal Zen when icing cakes. Fussing with buttercream tends to create a less pretty cake." --- I love this advice, by the way, it's so very very true.

The Kitchen Vixen said...

that cake looks amazing! i want to lick my screen!

Susan of Bismarck's Favorite said...

Julius, what a beautiful cake! And congratulations on getting into UBC med school!

Fran Z said...

J- You may be leaving DB, but we will not leave you!! I love reading your blog, so detailed, and I learn so much from you. So many best wishes to you, I will be always wishing you great success!
God Bless.

Jaime said...

mmmm look at that frosting!

i'm so glad that you are not leaving TWD! we all need to bake, don't we? :)

sarah phillips said...

Beautiful cakes, as always!

By the way, it's not true about the two-stage mixing method! I have just proven that it can be used with unbleached all-purpose flour in a non-high ratio cake recipe! See my newest recipe for YEAR ROUND SPICE CAKE on!
I, too, mix my two-stage cakes more at the end - 1 minute on medium speed with a stand mixer, and have proven that it makes for a better cake!

sarah phillips said...

P.S. I will miss you! You do beautiful and luscious work! Hugs and kisses!