Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mirror Mirror on the wall. Daring Bakers do it all!

Ack! Like we need a cheer leader yell! Well? Who is the prettiest of them all? I made a mirror cake and I am so proud of myself!! Teehee!
Redigera as the Swedish say.....or "edited" to say I'm still in Sweden and finally able to access my blog and by doing so (cross fingers) able to post!! it's 5 August now and I'm laaaaate! This is what I wrote shortly after finishing the cake:

Let's start at the beginning; the lovely Peabody at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody submitted this month's challenge and what a challenge it is! As she stated in her directives: we are back into the land of sugar and heavy whipping cream! (And dear Peabody, my thighs are ever so grateful *mumble, mumble*). On the brink of her birthday this was the task she laid before all of us Daring Bakers:

A Strawberry Mirror Cake! The original recipe comes from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993. Does that sound scary or what? I'll leave it up to our host to post the recipe in English. {I will give you the recipe in Dutch in a next post as well as a substitute for the Bavarian cream. Please check back after my vacation!} Maybe this is the right place to say that I tried to make such cake don't want to know, believe me. Disaster in lumpy pink I think is the way to describe that attempt. Never to be tried again. Until now. I had to. "They" made me do it.

As usual I started by reading the recipe, then copying it into Word and started tweaking (Nooo, not the recipe itself, just re-arranging the components of the recipe in a way that I can understand and read what I am supposed to do, step by step). Basically (!) we were supposed to make:
- two cake layers, (a genoise type of cake)
- sugar syrup flavoured with Kirsch to brush the cakes with,
- strawberry puree
- Bavarian cream flavoured with strawberry puree,
- strawberry juice
- the mirror consisting of strawberry juice and Kirsch

I used two spring form tins size 24 cm to bake the cake, and a 26 cm spring form to assemble. Gelatin proved to be a minor problem, English written recipes use gelatin powder whereas we in Holland (mainland Europe?) are using gelatin sheets. There was some discussion back and forth and I ended up substituting 1 tbs gelatin powder for 4 sheets of gelatin.
I found some real nice strawberries at the market and made the puree and juice that same night, freezing the results to have them ready and fresh for baking day on Saturday, the day that three Daring Bakers planned to cyberbake this cake together, and we had so much fun doing that! All three of us (Tanna at My Kitchen in Half Cups in Texas, Ilva at Lucullian Delights in Italy and me) were chatting away, I shared an afternoon cup of coffee with Ilva while Tanna enjoyed her breakfast. Time zones and borders gone!

I baked two cakes that day, one 10"round and a 9" square. To my surprise I used only 1.4 kg of strawberries to make the puree and juice for both cakes. Granted, with a little ingenuity.. but still. For the original challenge cake I used something like 500 grams of the strawberries to puree (mashed with the paddle on my stand mixer and passed through a strainer using the back of a ladle). Another 450 grams of strawberries went into the pan to make juice. According to the directions I let them drip through cheese cloth to get a transparent juice. Measured the amount needed and let drip some more. Used the mash in the cheesecloth together with some frozen and thawed strawberries to puree for the second cake, this time using my passe-vite.

Steep learning curve here, the passe-vite did a better job extracting more puree than I did the first time around. The thawing of the frozen strawberries left me with a puddle of juice which I sieved so that, together with the excess juice I had, made for enough juice to use in the second cake. (OMG I must sound like the thrifty Dutch that I am sometimes and I don't think anyone can follow this but I decided to write it down just the way I did, so indulge me, I felt so clever!!).

Baking the cake and making the Bavarian was no problem, lots of potential stress moments but looking back it was a smooth operation. Working with gelatin is always a bit uncertain to me, I mean: thickened but not jelled...when? Gelatin mixture resembling soft whipped cream? When is that? Syrupy? Those moments for me were the real stress points. You'll never know until it's beyond repair. The stupid thing is, I was more scared by baking the cake layers than by making the Bavarian... and even I think that's odd!My learning moments were plenty but one of them was that the bavarian cream doesn't have to set before you pour it onto the cake! This way it will form a smooth layer. I know now that is where I went wrong on previous attempts! On to the mirror then.
Again, the trick with the mirror is to use the juice while it is still very liquid (syrupy!) and just "close" your eyes, send a prayer and pour it on. And another one for the next time I am going to bake a mirror cake (yes, there will be a next time!) is to make sure you have a straight level top layer of cream. You might even want to use a water level as one of the techies that enjoyed the cake suggested.... he was kidding....I am not!

Last stress moment: unmolding the cake...which went smoothly! I made sure that the sides of my spring form were thoroughly oiled and indeed made a aluminum foil covered cardboard bottom fitted into the bottom of the pan as was suggested in the recipe. Didn't do the hot towel wrapping.

Although I had a hard time reading and understanding the recipe at first and the order in which it was written didn't work for me, I liked the detailed instructions, yes it made me go back and forth reading but at the same time supplied me with the confidence I needed at some points. I was happy with the quantities given, they worked out beautifully. Peabody; I loved the cake, family and friends loved the cake, my husband took the second one to the office for his birthday and it got rave reviews! But most of all, it boosted my confidence as a cake baker! Thanks so much. Anyone in for a slice after this much sucking up? Here you go:Go on and read all the other Daring Baker's Adventures!


  1. So glad you and your family like the cake!

  2. haha! I can see you have moved from the terror camp! So nice to see that you are alive Karen! And Thanks for meeting me in Stockholm! And for baking with me!

    ps. and wow, I managed to comment before Tanna!

  3. Haha, you wrote it down perfectly! So detailed and perfect for those of us who feel too intimidated to give this a try. :) It looks beautiful!

  4. Karen, your cake is beautiful! I can see why your husband's colleagues loved it - it's a spectacular, 'echte' taart! They must have thought that he went to one of those really posh, chichi bakkers!

  5. Can't believe I'm commenting before Tanna, too!! Great looking cake! So much work but a beautiful product in the end! Glad to hear that you and Ilva got to meet. I read about it in her blog. Have fun in Sweden. Can't wait to hear all about it!

  6. It looks so beautiful and delicious!

  7. What a gorgeous cake!!!

  8. Beautiful cake Karen... glad you took the time to share it with us! :)

  9. YEA YEA What can I say! You did great! Even if it is late!! That is about all I'm going to rhyme in cheerleader fashion for this comment. But great job!!

  10. A beautiful cake, Karen! Enjoy, Sweden!

  11. deze is werkelijk schitterend!!!
    Ik had de post niet erg nauwkeurig gelezen, ik dacht al dat je hem in Zweden had gemaakt... en kon het niet geloven. Maar goed ik was nog te moe voor de kleine lettertjes denk ik. Ik krijg otch zo'n z'on zin aan deze taart als ik die foto's zie!
    (Wel erg handig zo'n laptop mee op vakantie... zal ik ook eens over denken, hoewel ze in vakantiehuisjes natuurlijk weer geen aansluiting hebben...)

  12. We did have such amazing cyberbaking fun!
    Beautiful cakes - perfect decorations with the flower and the coffee like beans!
    I am so delighted you and Ilva got together!
    Looks like I can make everybodys day by commenting late!
    Enjoy the holidays! because we really have a challenge in store for us this month!

  13. Dat is een vijf-sterrentaart! Wat een beauty!

  14. Nee jongens, ik ben nog steeds in Zweden! We gaan donderdag terug richting Holland en ik ben toevallig nu op een camping waar ik op internet kan en heb vanaf hier de al geschreven post gepublished.(a 1 kroon per minuut). Is trouwens leuk joh, zo'n Zweeds toetsenbörd ållemääl leuke lettertjes!

  15. WOUW!!!! Prachtig. Daar krijg ik ook zin in, maar durf dit avontuur niet aan denk ik.
    Goede reis terug!

  16. Welkom thuis. Wat een prachtige taart......lijkt wel zo'n chique Bijenkorf toestant.Deze lijkt me wel lekkerder !Tot gauw!

  17. wat een beauty zeg!
    En die heb je "op lokatie' gemaakt? Stoer! :-)

  18. Prachtige taart, Karen. Mijn complimenten!

  19. Beautiful cake, Karen!! I'm so happy you got your internet connection where you are.. were you getting a bit jittery or did you enjoy the break?

    I love the decoration on top too.. so pretty =) And isn't it a blast to make your challenge with friends? I love doing that too. :D

    Way to go, sweetie!

  20. Thanks all! I really enjoyed making this cake (and eating it..).

    Lis, I was not too challenged by not having a laptop handy... to start again proves to be harder...

  21. Hi there,
    you did a great JOB really!! The mirror cake looks fabulous and i'm sure it taste good too :D..

    warmest regards from Bali


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