Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cat's Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! Yup, you read the title under the cake correctly....that's MY birthday cake! As I've mentioned before, it's fun to make cakes for your loved ones. You have all the freedom in the world to create whatever you want for them. This is even more so when you make your own cake. You have the freedom to try out new techniques without worrying about what to do if it doesn't work out! As you can see, it worked out beautifully! But not without a few hiccups....

I'd been dying to work with chocolate but I wanted it to be different than the types you normally see. Normally the melted chocolate is spread onto acetate strips and then wrapped around the cake to cool. When you remove the acetate you have a very smooth collar of chocolate. I wanted a more textured, free form version of this idea. Having not really worked all that much, outside of ganache, with chocolate I wasn't too terribly sure how this idea would work out. Here is what I did...

First I took out a silicone mat and melted the white chocolate morsels in the microwave. You have to be very careful with this as chocolate burns very easily. So I started with 30 seconds and worked my way to melting point from there. After the white chocolate was melted smooth I put in another bowl of milk chocolate pieces to melt. While that was melting I put the white chocolate into a piping bag with a number 3 tip on it. This is a writing tip. By this time the milk chocolate was melted and I was able to spread it onto the mat with an offset spatula. One of the hiccups, and lesson I learned, is that you really need to spread the chocolate very evenly for clean breaks later...I managed to do this fairly well but not perfectly so I ended up with some jagged bits that I still put to work later (or my husband ended up eating as a snack!LOL!). As soon as I had the milk chocolate spread on the mat I took the white chocolate filled piping bag and started swirling the white chocolate over the surface of the milk chocolate. Since the milk chocolate was cooling but not yet set, the white chocolate settled down into it but held it's shape. Remember to keep your hand moving or the white chocolate will pool in one spot very quickly! I finished off the piping by piping a frame of white chocolate around the edges of the milk chocolate. Then the whole thing went into the freezer for a couple of hours. I'm not sure it really needed hours to set up but we went out for a few hours right after this step.

I had already filled and crumbcoated my cake at this point. It's an Almond Cake with Passionfruit filling. You may remember that combo from last weeks Jersey Cake..well, we got to try the trimmings off that cake and fell in love with the flavors! I just knew this was the combo I wanted for my birthday cake! When we got back to the house I put on the final coating of buttercream at this point so it would still be soft enough and able to act as glue for the chocolate pieces. Enter hiccup number Two!

Working in my own home is a tricky business. Unlike the commercial kitchen I normally use, my home has only one work area...the same one with the oven and the dishwasher. Well, the oven was currently cooking our dinner and the dishwasher was cleaning up the mess from the chocolate and cake baking process. So it was warm AND humid in my decorating area. This is where my inexperience with chocolate made itself well known. Chocolate planks don't do well with any heat and they surely don't like humidity added to the mix. I took the mat of chocolate out of the freezer and it began to melt immdiately. I was able to get some full planks but then the thinner and the melting sections broke up into jagged pieces. Now if this had been for a client I would have started all over again...and that would have been unfortunate. The combo of planks and jagged pieces ended up really working well together and giving me the texture I had been going for all along in this design! So, as you can see, not all mistakes are fatal...some make your design even better.

After I got the planks and pieces onto the cake, which was fun...sort of like putting together a puzzle with the added challenge of the pieces speed puzzle making! LOL! I then topped the cake with fresh raspberries and drizzled on more melted white chocolate. I added the sunflower just for me. I had made it, trying out new cutters I had just gotten as a gift, just for myself and I thought it added a beautiful accent to the cake.

Now here is where we found out a delicious secret. When you combine all of these flavors into one bite...the almond, passionfruit filling, chocolate planks and get one really perfect bite! It's is delectable together! Who knew? I figured that the chocolate and the raspberries would be eaten seperately but when combined with the cake and the filling it was sublime!

This year was a treat for me. My younger daughter, and partner in our business, is a caker as well. She always makes me the most yummy and beautiful cakes each year. But this year they took us out to a fancy dinner including a really fancy dessert the weekend before my birthday. So for my midweek birthday I got the treat of making my own cake. Hope you like the outcome of my little experiment with chocolate! I sure do!

Next week is Halloween!!! So I will get to share with you some Halloween confections next Sunday since the client needs them that day, not actually on Halloween! See you then!


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