Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Cake, Finally

So how hard could it be, I ask myself. The first day of the big Opera Cake Project went well, with even the buttercream frosting that started out looking like a disaster turning out well in the end. All I needed to do was make the sponge cake, make the glaze, which was just melting chocolate and adding in the butter I had already clarified, and assembling the cake. So what could go wrong?

Where to start, where to start. Let’s start with the jelly roll pans. I needed two the same size, 10 by 15 inches. I have two of different sizes, with the smaller one being close in size to what I needed. This meant I had to bake the first layer, turn it out to cool, clean the pan, bake the second layer. Not a big problem, but I elected to eyeball the division of batter in half rather than measuring exactly how much I had. I chose poorly. The first layer was thicker than the second. Since the middle layer is actually the two ends left over when you cut a 10 by 10 inch square from the two layers you bake, that difference in thickness is not trivial. Oh, well, I had lots of ganache to balance out any unevenness.

An even bigger problem was that I forgot to add the three tablespoons of melted butter to the batter, and didn’t realize it until layer one was in the oven. I pulled it out, stirred half of the butter into the batter in the bowl and the other half into the still liquid batter in the pan. The only problem is, the batter wasn’t really half and half.

But the ganache and the filling were perfect, and then there was the espresso syrup, so there would be lots of flavor, right? As the cake cooled, I kept saying to myself, “Remember to brush the espresso syrup on each layer before you put on the filling.” 

So guess what I saw on the counter as I got ready to put the top layer on the cake? The unused the espresso syrup. At least the top layer got some. A lot.

Okay, so with the cake assembled, except for the glaze, it needed to chill for an hour (and so did I). That should have given the top layer of buttercream a chance to harden up so it wouldn’t blend with the chocolate glaze. Should have. Didn’t quite. The top of the cake looks like chocolate peanut butter.

I still have hopes for it tasting okay. The buttercream, ganche and glaze all taste delicious. They should, that’s where the almost pound of butter and almost pound of chocolate all went.

By lunchtime today, I should know.

Next time anyone hears me say, “How hard could it be,” please just shoot me.

ETA: despite all my best efforts to mess it up, the cake tasted great, kind of like tiramisu. Everyone loved it. Still not sure I'd make it again.

I need to trim the cake and move to a serving platter before I take it to the luncheon.

Trimmed up, ready to go

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