Monday, July 30, 2007

Strawberry Mirror Cake: Daring Bakers July

Strawberry Mirror Cake
This month Peabody of Culinary Concoctions chose a beautiful Strawberry Mirror Cake for the July Daring Baker Challenge. The cake consists of 3 parts: sponge cake, strawberry Bavarian cream, and a strawberry gelatin (none of which I have made before). The whole process took Bettina and I about 2 days to complete. Out of all the days in this month, we just happened to pick the hottest day of this year (remember me complaining about that heat wave?) to do the challenge, which was not a good idea.

The Cake:
I was a little worried the cake would taste too eggy since the recipe called for 6 eggs. Three of the eggs were separated and the whites were beaten to stiff peaks and the 3 yolks were combined with the 3 remaining eggs and beaten "until thick and light." I've never made a sponge cake before so I thought I could beat the eggs by hand, while I leave my KitchenAid to beat the whites. I was feeling particularly lethargic in the heat that day so I didn't want to wash out my mixing bowl after beating the eggs to beat the whites. This is rather ironic because washing the bowl would have taken one minute whereas we spent 10 times longer beating them by hand. I had no trouble beating the whites but beating the eggs by hand was not a good idea when it was 90 degrees indoors. Bettina and I had to take turns beating the eggs. After 10 seconds of beating we would break into a sweat and have to go sit in front of the fan to cool off while the other person took over the beating. They looked a tad thicker but little did I know, they were suppose to double, triple, even quadruple their original volume! The color was supposed to be very pale yellow but mine were still very yellow. Some DBs beat the eggs for 20 minutes in a KA, imagine how long I would have had to beat by hand to achieve the same result! Eek! In the end we were fed up with the eggs and proceeded to the next step. The eggs were still very liquidy rather than light and voluminous, so folding in the cake flour and the whites was very troublesome.

When the cakes emerged from the oven (450 degree oven on a hot summer day, not fun), the tops were an even golden brown and looked very nice. They were springy to the touch. However, they had shrunk to about 7 1/2 inches in diameter, when I baked them in an 8in cake pan. When I flipped the cake out to cool, I noticed the bottom felt tough and rubbery. I crossed my fingers and hoped it was just a thin layer on the bottom of the cake that would be remedied by pouring the cream on top.

The Cream and Mirror:
No major problems with the Bavarian cream or mirror. There was a little foam and bubbles on top of the mirror that I neglected to skim off so the mirror wasn't as shiny or smooth as it could have been. (I was getting a little lazy towards the end.)

The Assembly:
Now here is where it got tricky. In the original recipe, the cake is baked in a 11 by 17 jelly roll pan and then 8 1/4 in diameter cake rounds are cut out of the rectangular sheet cake. A round is placed in a 10 in springform then the Bavarian cream is poured over it when it is thick but still somewhat liquidy. I had a 10 in springform pan however, since my cake layers had shrunk to 7 1/2 inches, that would mean the outer layer of frosting would be over an inch thick, way too thick. I didn't have a 9 in springform but using my Daring Baker ingenuity (dun da da dun!), I fashioned a foil collar that I set around the cake so I could pour in the Bavarian without the outer layer being overly thick of cream. I had to tuck the bottom of the foil under the cake so the cream wouldn't leak. I really wish I had remembered to take a picture of this setup because it was quite a hilarious and ridiculous sight. Bettina and I cracked up every time we looked this "disposable springform".

The Final Verdict:
The Bavarian was fluffy and airy when I made it but setting overnight in the fridge it ended up being a little too rubbery for my tastes. I've never made or had Bavarian cream before so I wasn't sure if Bavarian cream was supposed to have that texture. However, I really loved the flavor of the cream. It was light, full of the lovely flavor and fragrance of fresh strawberries. The strawberries impart a beautiful and delicate pink hue to the cream. When I sliced into the cake, I saw that the bottom 1/3 of the cake was a rubbery inedible mess (due to not beating the eggs enough). The top 2/3 of the cake was spongy and delicious, not too eggy at all. My favorite part aside from the top part of the cake that was actually edible was the mirror. The mirror was the best strawberry gelatin I've ever had. Overall the cake tasted alright but I think I could have done a better job.

I was dissatisfied with the end result of this cake, not because of the recipe, but because of my mistakes and inexperience. I will definitely try my hand at the cake again. I'll remake the sponge cake for a Boston Cream Pie. Next time I remake the Bavarian cream I'll use a little less gelatin.

The Recipe:
Visit Peabody's blog for the complete recipe, courtesy of "Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy". Be sure to check out all the beautiful mirror cakes by visiting the Daring Bakers Blog Roll.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Amy, I think you nailed this one! My favorite part was the mirror too. I really want to make some red jello and use this recipe. I also think the bavarian cream was lovely with the strawberry fragrance! I am so sorry you didn't get a photo of your "disposable springform" to share with us but I'll bet it will always bring a smile to your lips whenever you remember it! I think you've just experienced the ideal Daring Baker challenge and you've gotten lessons and good experience from it.
Well done with the cake Amy, so glad you are a Daring Baker.

Anh said...

Amy, your cake is really lovely. I love it.

My cream stays ok even after long time in the fridge. The mirror is beautiful, isn't it?

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I liked the juice the best. It looks totally great and great job with the challenge. Glad you are one of us!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Once again the Daring Bakers have taught us all a few lessons about baking -- for me, the lesson is to leave the mirror cake to other, more experienced bakers! Glad you tried this and will try it again.

breadchick said...

Yup, figures about picking the hottest day huh? I had to have the AC in the kitchen cranked to Morgue temp to even stand being in the kitchen the day I made mine. Bavarian cream doesn't normally have that much gelatin in it. I think it was needed here to give a firm foundation for the mirror. Great job though!

Andrea said...

Great job on your cake! The juice was delicious, wasn't it? We both did the aluminum foil thing and it worked! :-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amy, your cake looks superb - you did a great job trying so many things for the first time!

Deborah said...

I think we all learned many things on this challenge. Your cake is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Goodness, ya'll are daring bakers indeed! 2 days for a cake? I'm impressed.

Ari (Baking and Books)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

It looks lovely. I just bought one for dinner Saturday night. Had no idea there was a name for it! :)

Unknown said...

Your cake looks very good :)

Jenny said...

Your cake looks great! A job well done!

Dharm said...

Great Job Amy! Well done!

Peabody said...

Good job Amy. sorry the texture wasn't all you would have hoped it would be.

WokandSpoon said...

Wow - I still think the cake looked beautiful! I like "springy" cakes ;-) send it over!

Lis said...

Ugh I can just imagine how horrible it was beating the eggs in that kind of heat - and then having to turn your oven up to such a high temp.. I feel your pain.

But you guys trudged through and that right there says you are definitely a Daring Baker!


Anonymous said...

I think you did terrific,Amy. Your cake looks awesome. I really wished you took a picture of your disposable spring form setup that sounds interesting!

Anonymous said...

You are unhappy with the cake? But it looks lovely and so much effort was spent. Good job!

Cheryl said...

I think you did a really great job with the cake.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you weren't happy with the final cake. I found it a bit bland as well. But you still did a wonderful job!

Unknown said...

Nice job. My cream turned a little rubbery too, which was sad.

Jerry said...

Heat has come to Texas! Turn on the A/C! Looks wonderful despite the weather!

Dolores said...

I think your cake is gorgeous... it withstood the heat quite nicely. I love how we all seem to learn from these challenges.

Amy said...

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments! I can't say how much I enjoy the Daring Baker challenges and how much I learn from them! Can't wait to tackle next months challenge. I'm so glad to be a part of this group! Thanks again everyone!

I'm so tempted to make the mirror again and just eat it. It was really quite delicious.

I think I'll like the texture of the cream more if I use 2 tbsp rather than 2.5 tbsp of gelatin.

The juice was so delicious!

I'm looking forward to making that Boston Cream Pie and trying my hand at sponge cake again.

Lol morgue settings! Yeah I was wondering about the gelatin since I saw a few recipes with less. I think I will definitely like it more if it used less.

Daring bakers think alike. ;D

I love trying new things. The DB challenges are always great!


We spread out the cake making but it still took a long time.

Oh interesting! I've never seen these cakes before.


Thank you!


I still loved the challenge, thanks for choosing it!

Aw thanks. :)

Old house = no AC = a bad day to bake. Lol. But it was worth it stealing little spoonfuls of the cream. Yummy ;D

The foil thing was really... unquie. Lol.

In the end probably not worth the time and effort but definitely worth it considering all the things I learned.

Thank you!

I would have liked the cake more if it didn't have that rubbery layer on the bottom. Good learning experience though!

Aw, it was so delicious before getting rubbery too. :(

I really wish I had AC that day.

Learning is the best part. :)

Elle said...

Amy, I think you did a great job, Daring Baker. I agree that less gelatin in the bavarian cream would be better, but the sponge cake was great. Sorry it took me so long to comment.

Anonymous said...

Lovely job!

Amy said...

Aw thanks! I'm hoping to redo the sponge very soon.



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