Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Chocolate fudge cake




The job of baking something palatable, and have it fulfill the dual destiny of being remarkably delicious, and show visually as a frame by Monet, is no sweet task. Stamina/energy/sanity otherwise reserved to correct/equip/scream at underlings that may not be exercising great judgement, in addition to those in-over-their-head baby adults, who believe they are endowed with prophetic wisdom, is sapped, drainedThough, in measure, a certain indefatigability, renewed mind flow and boundless supply of Monster Energy, preferably in 24 ounce cans, will pretty much see you at success too.  
Today's life lesson taught and learned.✓
Totally glad you dropped by, right? ✓

It's pretty undeniable, the rush that comes when working on a piece like this. Pushing me to not less than 5 separate recipe trials; so both you and I, beyond doubt, know just how important it is to appreciate the perfect chocolate fudge cake recipe and have it revisit you for the rest of your life.

There isn't a core technique for fudge cake. May owe to the fact that everyone and their mama grew up with personalized interpretations on how fudge-y fudge cake should actually be.

I took notes. Several. There were points specific to many, but not limited to all. Most of them had less than ten ingredients, seven of them, common or interchangeable. It should be taken into account that if there is large enough consensus for myself to write a thesis on such a subject, I am game

For the most part, there were mainly three classifications in which such a cake could umbrella under:
  1. Those with striking, ultra chocolatey notes, though light, airy.
  2. The dense, more like-fudge, rich texture and tight crumb.
  3. Reminiscent of back-in-the-day, candy-ish flavor, on hints of brown sugar, to the likes of Little Debbie snack packs.
In almost every recipe, unsweetened cocoa is used. Bon Appetit insists it be Dutch process. I really don't think you should go to the trouble. After considerable forethought, key elements were loosely combed from my 5 source assortment. It was success and poetry, together in one.
The cake that ended my search had a distinct, deep flavor, yet stood apart from typic chocolate cake. Everything I needed it to be, it was: Moist + tighter crumb + not breaking in places where it shouldn't. Fortifying tops and sides with  a double layer of icing, first of ganache, second, chocolate buttercream prepped the 9x 10 " platform for my AZ Diamondback Sedona Red jersey veneer .(The "Sedona" part may lack because of my desire to not deflect from the "no-taste" of Wilton's no-taste, very bright, red).

It is quite amazing, a rich, yet not too dense cake, that desists from sticking to the roofs of mouths stayed moist and had enough heft to be the foundation for multiple levels of bedecking. 

I found that I may not have a calling for snake whispering- no complaints there. The fact that I had to compete with a beloved MLB image, was terrifying. Snake D took about 7 tries, all of which could've been an unmitigated disaster, until I took a step back and used the reading glasses I really should be using. My third attempt at rattler carving was actually not half bad, a final edge smoothing, D patch was ready to go.

Moreover, shaping cakes into sports balls  really isn't a big deal. Especially when you have the aluminum pan which makes construction a piece of cake( pun intended:))

I urge you. Go make this.  It could be The One to end your search for all perfection. 

And so, I hope.
Whipped ganache. Is beautiful. 

For the cake-
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened natural cocoa 
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hot water

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and parchment 2 9-inch round cake pans or one 13x9-inch rectangular pan.
  • In a bowl, sift together flour and sugar.
  • In a sauce pan, combine butter and cocoa over heat.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer beat eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla on medium high speed until blended and smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and cocoa mixture into the batter, alternating between the two( starting and ending with flour mixture) until smooth and combined.
  • Pour the hot water over the mixture, stir until incorporated and batter is smooth.
  • Scrape the batter into prepared pan(s).
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For the icing-
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 3 ½ cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions:
  • Bring butter cocoa and milk to a boil.
  • While still hot, stir in the sugar, cup by cup, until mixture is combined.
  • Stir in vanilla. Pour or immediately spread over cake. 
~ The above icing hardens over cake and if I had a choice, I'd top with it each and every time.
-Cakes are best refrigerated overnight before you attempt to cut/carve/ shape them .

Trippy, rainbow-ish vibe was courtesy of the clearphane I used to cover my board( could've also been my mindset for the current few days I was working on it). Sun streaming straight through a window, lends the whole thing an ethereal iridescence. Don't you think?

I know. I should be here more often. I apologize for my lack of presence and deficit of routine updating. You deserve the recipes that have been stored in my head. And heart. Cluttering my drawers on gazillion sticky notes.

When my day seems insurmountable, I find solace in the things the Lord has resourced me to do. My kitchen is my calm, safe zone, a spa of relief- if you can imagine that. It's where I succeed and feel much  content in all that surrounds me. In addition to this, the trusted slice of blog platform to inscribe my antics adds to the joy. I am grateful that you see, read, hear.

I'm also thankful for friends and acquaintances who trust me for their cake baking/ confection making needs. In return, I'm bestowed the privilege to put through grind, a passion for working with delicious subjects, and all the aspects that stem from; recipe writing, experimenting, honing in to skills I never knew I had. It sparks my passion, pushing me to do better, work harder, and achieve more than what I'd ever set out for. My mind is refreshed, renewed and regirded, each moment of the day has intention and purpose. And that's a very good thing.
Thank you. 
I truly appreciate.

May-
2014: Ghee
2013: Meat puffs
2012: Doughnuts

******
"Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
    do not let my hopes be dashed." Psalm 119:116 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Of Swiss meringue buttercream, date-almond cake and a bright, red scooter

This image. It's significant. Not because it's been sitting on my desktop, strangely calling me out for not writing a line or two about it...YET.  But that it comes from the recesses of an overactive, over optimistic mind; set in a recurring scene that flashes off and on...given the condition of the week I may be facing. Me. Zipping through quaint roads of the Mediterranean coastline. On cobblestoned pavements. With who-ville hair. Steering a red Vespa. I believe I should be doing this one day. Until then, it excites me that I could have some of this vision manifest itself via edible clay...fashioned by my own hands... and placed on cake. While the landscape and backdrops, of how/when/where can be left as the imagination deems. Yes, people,  I dream vivid. It helps me transport to experiences my physical self one day surely will. That said, it makes updating this gig all the more compelling. In addition to reminding some that, of course, I do still have a blogging gig.

So, I' ll begin by confessing the urgency to have you informed, a need as strong as the one that makes me want to stock up on eggs for the rest of my life and wax lyrical on how fine those eggs foam up to build the smoothest of confection. 

Manufacturing Swiss meringue buttercream is not for the fainthearted, nor is it that easy of a task. It requires diligence and purpose. Together with sufficient patience, perseverance and prayer, frosting comes full circle and ultimately, we can all see light at the end of the icing tunnel. For real.

Cake fails are a part of life. Frosting fails; not quite so. At least not the mere comingling of butter and sugar, aka, American buttercream,  and the easiest way to stack and beautify cake. It's Swiss counterpart requires those 4 more steps, along with slight more ambition. 

Living through my few flop attempts had me actually question two things: the desire to continue and whether all combinations of butter and sugar were truly a gift from Heaven. Yes, to the former and of course, they are(!!), in case you doubt, to the latter.

It was at the 3rd practice batch (phew) of Swiss buttercream, things finally fell into place:
The egg whites stayed white. 
The butter creamed and blended. 
The sugar dissolved and ceased being sand.

Fifteen to twenty five minutes is, in the least, mandatory frame to whisk, cool, beat and blend. What you will end up with is an ethereally smooth and well structured cream. Luxe Swiss is padded with enough butter that gives it the appearance of silk and pipes extremely well. I should know, after having produced a weekend's worth of buttercream florals for a double layer cake.

It's an event, this stove-whisked frosting. A manifold step endeavor to create icing that is light yet tastes as rich as a cake accessory should honestly be. Suddenly, the gushing reviews and jubilant taster comments of SMB become as clear as the noon day.  Just as many other things in life shall one day be.

It is so worth it. Even when it means fashioning bright red scooters out of sugar dough to prove your point.

For the buttercream~
(Adapted from Epicurious.com)

Ingredients:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cup , unsalted butter, softened (but not too soft)and cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a slight pinch salt
Directions:
  • In a wide medium bowl (big enough to hold your mixer bowl as it double boils), bring about 2 inches of water to a simmering boil.
  • Place egg whites and sugar in steel mixing bowl of your stand mixer and place this over the bowl of simmering water, but not touching the water.
  • Whisk intermittently until sugar grains are fully dissolved and the mxixture is smooth and comes to 160 °F .
  • Immediately place mixer bowl on mixer stand and whip with whisk attachment until frosting becomes thick, glossy and increases in volume-about 10 minutes). If not yet cool, allow mixture to come to room temperature.
  • Once bowl is cool to the touch, change to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter one tablespoon at a time, allowing it to absorb into meringue after each addition.
  • Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until buttercream has reached a thick, whipped consistency. Continue beating if it appears lumpy or runny.
  • Add vanilla and salt. Mix another minute on medium-high until incorporated.
Notes~ Butter should be cool to the touch and not left at room temp for more than 45 minutes.
If too soft, refrigerate for about 7-10 minutes.
If using a hand mixer, it will take longer to beat to form buttercream. 

Mid-beat, before adding butter.

 For the date almond-cake~ I used my fruit cake recipe( halved it- use a scale for accuracy), omitted all the other fruits, except for the chopped dates, to which I added 100 gms more. Sliced almonds replaced the crushed cashews. Caramelized sugar syrup stayed the same as did most of the spices, but in lesser volume.
For the oddest reason, these pictures were compressed to a lower resolution and size by my camera, so this was the best I could glean from the sd card. I will update with a brilliantly whipped Swiss soon up.
March:
******
"Don't try to be like those who shoulder their way through life. Why be a bully? "Why not?" you say. Because God can't stand twisted souls. It's the straightforward who get his respect. God's curse blights the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.  He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder, but if you're down on your luck, he's right there to help. Wise living gets rewarded with honor; stupid living gets the booby prize." Proverbs 3:31-35 (Message)