I’ve received critical feedback about this blog. My family thinks I need to share more of how the bake actually tastes at the end.
To give you an idea of how the last bake fared, let me just say I had to protect the last few slices from my co-workers so my non-work friend could enjoy it. And even though I missed a blog bake last week, I did rebake the chocolate fudge tart with gluten-free flour and without walnuts for my gluten-free, nut-free mother. Needless to say, it was delicious. Like really delicious. The crust was a perfect crispness (both times) and the chocolate filling was almost brownie-like. I preferred it filled with walnuts, but the second go was still scrumptious. Both times I went light on the sugar out of habit and it made it really rich, limiting you to just a slice (in theory).
My brother-in-law’s birthday is today and my sister asked my mom to bake a chocolate cake. Well what do you know, but there’s a chocolate cake in this recipe book, so I asked if I could step in and help him celebrate and get another blog post out of the way.
I’ll be attempting to bake it at my mother’s as we babysit five of my nieces and nephews, so it might be a little hectic and this blog post might be a little sparse, but I shall try to accomplish it all! To be completely honest, this bake looks a little difficult — not so much the layered cake aspect because I’ve done many a layered cake back before my family realized they were all gluten and sugar sensitive.
Those were the days.
Ignorance really is bliss.
As I start melting the chocolate and butter together in step one, I hear my mom on the phone. The party has been cancelled. Children everywhere are sick, except for the two we have, but I shall soldier on! My brother-in-law may get a hand-delivered slice and my co-workers will be super happy.
I talked about this recipe last week in the office but mourned the fact that I probably wouldn’t have time for such an endeavour. One guy suggested I take a sick day to bake because it’s for my mental health. I like his style. But alas, I’m doing this on a Sunday.
In other news, I have very strong feelings about chocolate in that I’m in love with it.
It’s not even fully melted together and I’m in love with it.
Now, I’m trying to “grease and baseline” my cake tins based on the instructions in this book. Boy is it complicated! You have to cut the circle at the bottom and then cut strips and then fold those strips and cut slits and then press that up against the side of a buttered tin and it looks something like this (hopefully):
Now to mix together my eggs and vanilla until frothy. I had to borrow a teaspoon of my mother’s vanilla extract so I’ll have to pay her back about $25. Have you heard about the ridiculousness that is vanilla extract? There seems to be some sort of supply issue that has boosted the price everywhere. (If I took an economics course in university, I could pretend to understand this.)
People are in turmoil. It’s a good thing she and I have both purchased the Costco-sized vanilla extract that will last us until the end of times. It’s our most precious commodity. If there is some kind of end-of-days / apocalypse situation, it’s good to know I have assets.
Same question as always, but is this frothy?
I asked my ten-year-old nephew and he confidently said it was. So I’m trusting him with this one.
So here’s a funny story. The variety of flours in this recipe book is boggling. All-purpose isn’t actually all-purpose, apparently, because there’s wholemeal, self-raising, cake, bread, strong white bread, rye flour and so much more. I hated the idea of going to buy massive bags of flour at the grocery store, though. I was wondering if I would have to add a PayPal section of this blog like Julie Powell did. But then my mom told me about this specialty food store about half an hour away. Shelves and shelves of cheap flour, spices, sugars, and everything else a baker could dream of.
And there we went. A little hole-in-the-wall place with tiny aisles and shelves stocked to the ceiling. I had found my oasis. And I purchased a basket filled with the random ingredients this book requires.
And all I could think was that it looked like I was about to smuggle drugs:
Bags of white powder with basic labels. How could this not look like drugs? And for this recipe, I had to pull out one of the bags of baker drugs: the self-raising flour.
This is coming from someone who has never actually seen drugs (illegal that is), but this looks a lot like crime shows and movies that I’ve seen.
As I was measuring out the flour and laughing about its likeness to a drug I wouldn’t be able to actually identify if I saw it, I forgot about the whisk.
Is that mousse-y enough? I feel like at some point I’ll have the answer to these questions. Not yet, though.
Time to slowly add the melted chocolate. I didn’t take a photo of the process of this, but trust me when I say that it was a truly beautiful thing. Watching the chocolate slowly mix in with the sugar/egg mixture made my heart skip a beat (and not because of blood sugar reasons). It’s just *sigh* beautiful.
Here’s the final mixture:
Isn’t chocolate just the most beautiful thing? Is this just me? Am I the only one who wants to cry at the beauty of the chocolate scenes of Chocolat and not the mother/daughter scenes?
With the addition of the sifted flour and cocoa mixture, we have batter!
Now. To divide evenly between two tins. Divide evenly. How to do this. Do I get a measuring cup and scoop it? Do I trust that I’ve scooped similar amounts? Or do I take a cue from the mathematical contestants of The Great British Bake Off and measure with the scale?
The answer is the latter.
Back and forth I went until the tins were within 10 grams off one another. Getting it exact was impossible, so 10 grams I figured would be even enough.
Even though the timer didn’t buzz (because I forgot to reset it after the first 15 minutes when I switched them and turned them around for an even bake), my Spidey-senses tingled and I got up to check. With the last two toothpicks in my mom’s home (sorry, Mom! I’ll pay you the 15 cents), I check them and find out they’re done!
Also can we just appreciate my current ensemble? Yes, I am wearing shin-high (supposed to be knee-high) argyle socks with Crocs. Standing around and baking on a hard floor hurts my feet and back, so my mother’s old Crocs are the best way to offset that. Plus it’s just so stylish, don’t you think?
Time to flip! This is really awkward to do this with massive oven mitts.
Isn’t the suspense killing you?
Are you still killed with suspense?
I hope not because that may implicate me on murder charges somehow.
But huzzah! Now we wait for it to cool so I can ice it. And I also have to make the icing (and the filling). I asked my nine-year-old nephew if I should do the vanilla buttercream or the chocolate fudge filling.
I must say, the overly complicated paper lining really paid off—my mom agrees.
Usually when I do a cake in a cake tin, the edges are tricky or gloppy or cut off because they got stuck in the tin. But this popped right out and the parchment paper peeled right off the hot cake and now Bob’s your uncle!
(How freaky would that be if your uncle’s name really is Bob?)
Apparently I have to cut these sponges in half to make a four-layer cake, but if I did that, the ratio of cake to icing would be equal if not favouring the icing. I know many of you reading this are probably thinking, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, WOMAN? ADD ALL THE ICING! THAT’S EVERYONE’S FAVOURITE PART!
But I’m fairly certain I ended up using the wrong cake tin size. Should have been less than an 8 inch, but I used 9-inch tins. Oops! Oh well. People will have to be happy with a double-layer cake instead of a quadruple-layer cake.
So I thought it was time to start on the icing … in the middle of a game of Scrabble with my nephews. Not the greatest move.
Pretty sure I overmixed my chocolate fudge buttercream, but thankfully their mom (my baking sister) showed up and could give me tips of how to undo that mistake. I added some cream to the mixture and whipped it up and spread on the “crumb catcher” layer on the outside.
The overmixed layer of buttercream is still in the middle, but I think I did a good enough job of covering up the several mistakes I’ve made thus far:
- Wrong tin sizes
- Slightly overbaked cake (because they were thinner from the wrong cake tins)
- Overwhipped buttercream
- Subpar icing work*
*Can we just talk about how terrible icing a cake is? I know people on Instagram cake videos have got it down pat and I shouldn’t compare, but if you don’t have a spinning cake stand and piping bag and that long spatula thing, it’s a real pain in the butt.
What’s worse is I did purchase the piping bag and spatula thing at Ikea, but I forgot it at home. Classic!
But I soldier on again. And the end result isn’t terrible:
I still have to make the chocolate rosette on the top of the cake. That I’m a little worried about. The modelling chocolate recipe calls for liquid glucose, which just seems like too fancy a term to deal with. I googled substitutes and most people think corn syrup is fine. (And when my sister showed up, I asked her and she confirmed it again as someone who has baked much more than I have.)
So now I’m waiting for that to cool.
My non-birthday-boy brother-in-law and nephews wanted a taste, though, so I cut it in such a way that I learned from an episode of QI. If you slice right down the middle, you can still keep the rest of the cake fairly fresh while also enjoying a sneak amount of cake. I’m not sure if that worked, but let’s just pretend it did!
I’ve rolled the modelling chocolate into a long strip and I’m putting it in the fridge to cool and harden a bit, but I’m going to go ahead and spare you the photos because, well, let’s just say my nephews’ suggestion that I shape it into the poop emoji would not be a stretch.
Okay, I’m laughing so hard, dear readers.
The level of terribleness is truly extraordinary.
Look out, world. You’re not ready for my artistic creations!
This is truly one of the most hideous things I’ve ever made. And I made a layered caramel chocolate cake that slowly turned into the Leaning Tower of Pisa because the caramel filling was too slick.
I’m honestly so proud of how ugly this is.
Ah well. At least it tastes delicious!