Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's All Done With Mirrors...

Dear Sweet Baby Jebus. Yet ANOTHER Daring Baker conquest. Wait! Hold on.. I gotta go look up "conquest"...

1: the act or process of conquering

Mmmm hmmm.. okay that's a good word. Yes this was a conquest because it involved several highly scary steps, especially to a novice baker like myself. But! Because I AM a Daring Baker, I knew I could rise to this challenge and come out the other side hootin' and hollerin' VICTORY!!!

But.. uhh.. just to play it safe, I asked a Tartelette to come help me. squeeeeeeeee!

As most of you are aware by now (and if you aren't - where the freeg have you been?), Helene came to visit me for 5 glorious days of shopping, eating, baking, eating, cooking, exercising and eating. And during two of those days, we made this month's Daring Baker challenge recipe, a strawberry "mirror" cake, chosen by my favorite Queen of All That Is Fattening and Sugary - Gracie. Or some of you might know her as Peabody. Yes, my Gracie was this month's hostess with the mostess and the Strawberry Mirror Cake recipe she chose came from "Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993".

strawberry mirror cake

When I first saw this, I instantly remembered a cake recipe I'd seen on either or which was a raspberry mirror cake and although I didn't save that recipe (way to scary for me) it stayed with me. So I guess I had mixed feelings when I read Gracie's choice. On one hand I was tickled pink as there were no fakkin crepes to mess with, but on the other hand, sponge cake? bavarian cream? strawberry gelatin? God. I kinda eyed my fancy, still pretty much brand spankin' new, French crepe pan with a new appreciation for it. :P

Soooooo.. what did I think about this cake, eh? I thought about maybe playing it off as a not so bad of an experience because I didn't want to hurt Gracie's feelings.. but I think I've made it pretty damn clear by now - my most dreadful experiences are usually my most favorite. And besides, this would have nothing to do with Gracie and her wondefulness.. this would have to do with how one single person can still f*ck up a cake even with a French Pastry Chef standing 2 inches to her right. GOD.

Okay to be truthful, I don't remember much as this was the longest cake baking session of ALL TIME. Not that that's a bad thing - it was a great thing! Helene and I did more chatting (and sauce & ball making) than anything else that first day and I remember it with great fondness. Uhh aside from my barking footsies. You know, other than my bladder (which is thimble sized apparently), my feet are the smallest things about me.. and let me tell you, my friends, once they start feeling "unhappy" well, they don't let you forget it for a fakkin second. Although, to be fair we did accomplish a lot that day.. kinda. I remember wine?

Anyhoo.. there are several steps to a mirror cake, I've learned. The first is the sponge cake. Now from hearing from my fellow Daring Baker chicas and chicos, this cake wasn't easy for some. For me (us) it wasn't a problem. I believe it was due to that French gal and her egg beating abilities. My (our) cakes came out nice and fluffy, although slightly over done. HEY we were chatting!! Those set aside, I (we) started on the bavarian cream.

strawberry mirror cake

Here's where the nightmare started.

Okay well.. the actual making of the bavarian cream was not a problem. We (I) had no problems with the gelatin setting too quickly over the strawberry puree. I (we) might have given it a lil stir, I can't recall. But I have no recollection of any one part of this bavarian cream making going wrong. It poured nicely over the slightly dry (shutit!) sponge cake and was just enough to cover the cake completely yet still leaving enough room on the top for the "mirror". I (we) put it in the fridge to set up over night because well.. did I mention my barkin footsies? Sauce? Meatballs? W.I.N.E.? Yeah it was time to pack it in for the night, have a lil din-din and get some sleep. Oh, I should probably mention, (now keep in mind we still had the final step to finish) we started this challenge around 1:30 in the afternoon and we didn't finish it until 10 pm that night. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA! I TOLD YOU it was the longest cake making session EVER.

Next morning we were up and at it early (NOT) - 'kay once we (I) dragged our (my) dead arses out of the office and into the shower it was probably already 10ish. We still needed to run up to the store because we ran out of gelatin when making the bavarian cream and couldn't finish the "mirror" part without it. Suffice to say, that the actual mirror layer was a breeze to make (I think some French gal did it?) and I was already focused on macarons. Dudes! She taught me macarons!! WOOO!! Our (my) challenge cake was set back into the fridge to set up and we had planned on cutting into it that night after dinner.

Blah blah macarons blah blah deee blah blah buttercream blah blah blah dee blah blah crunchedy light and fluffy shells blah blah blah lemon-ginger dee blah blah later.. the dinner dishes were done and it was time to cut the cake!!! We were all quite excited at the prospect of this.. as my sis and mom were there and had heard so much about the cake. heeeeeeee.

So I (we) took it out and warmed up the ring on the springform before gently removing it.. it left some "scars" on the sides, but we chose to ignore this.. what we couldn't ignore was, uhmm.. the color. At least I couldn't quite get past it and I did a quick search for my sunglasses. Mmmm hmmm what was a gorgeous shade of light pink when put into the refrigerator the night before had turned both dark and yet bright over night. I'd say.. somewhere between magenta and Pepto Bismol. Certainly not the light "strawberry kissed" shade of pink that the cake in the photo looked like. But that's okay - after all I was born and raised under the motto of "Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good!" And so slicing commenced.

strawberry mirror cake

As I passed a plate of hot pink cake to each family member I thought to myself, "Hmmm.. this bavarian cream feels as if I'm slicing through Jell-o". So I gave the platter a lil shimmie shake and the whole cake kinda bloobled and wiggled. Not really knowing what that would mean as far a texture goes, we all grabbed forks and took ourselves a great big bite of hot pink... melted erasers? I was sitting across the table from my mom.. and the look on her face, really was priceless. My sister politely put down her fork and dabbed at the corners of her mouth with her napkin. I kinda poked at it a bit and went in for another forkful hoping I'd just hit up on a spot where maybe the gelatin didn't dissolve completely. Nope, not so lucky. The texture of my (our) cake was rather spongey but yet also quite rubbery. The cake layers themselves, were about as dry as the Mojave, but they were light and fluffy. So that's good, right? Now the mirror part.. well that part I scraped off the rest of my slice and ate it by itself. It was the best strawberry jello I've ever had.

The party broke up soon after and I tried my hardest to pack up a few slices (and by a few slices I mean half the cake) for my mom but she ran out of the house with her arms clamped firmly to her sides. I eyed both Nigel and Chloe who were looking at me with this glint of hope in their eyes, but I just could not give them any.

I love my dogs.

So what the hell went wrong? I don't know.. I originally thought it was because we let the bavarian cream set up too long by keeping it in the fridge over night and most of the next day. But, from reading comments left by other Daring Bakers, others had left their cakes in the fridge for that long - or longer - and they didn't seem to get the rubber sponge effect. And then I though, "Oh No. The gelatin measurement was a typo. It wasn't suppose to be 4 (FOUR) 2 1/2 (Why the hell I wrote FOUR TBS is a mystery. Sorry, I must have lost my mind for a brief moment. hee) tablespoons!!" So I wrote to Gracie and asked if that was a possibility. Bless her cotton socks, she went back to the book to check but it was the correct measurement. She made good sense by saying that the bavarian cream needed to be stiff to hold the mirror. I'm convinced that my (our) bavarian cream rose above and beyond the stiff factor. And let's not forget that spongey texture too (not the actual sponge cake, but the cream was spongey).. what the hell happened there, I have no idea.

The good news is.. this can't be an all bad recipe, because it's sounding like my bad experience wasn't the experience of many of the others. Hell one gal (you're going to have to go read to find out who!) won 3rd place in a bake-off contest with her Strawberry Mirror Cake! I'm so damn proud of her. =)

strawberry mirror cake
Do you think I'd be nominated for a "Most Outstanding Use of Photoshop" award? :P

But all in all, this was a fantabulous experience for me. I learned how to make a sponge cake - and seriously, if we hadn't been chit chatting and not paying attention, we would have taken it out on time and it would have been superb. It had a really good flavor - although if there ever was another time I'd make this I would pour the soaking liquid on it after poking holes all through the layers. That might have helped with the dryness of over baking it. And really? What more could I ask for.. I had one of my closest and dearest friends with me the whole time, making me forget about my barkin' feet, causing my face to be in constant smile mode, and just generally feeling damn happy that I started this blogging hobby of mine 16 months ago. =)

Okay.. so here's the deal, kids.. we no longer have individual Daring Baker blogrolls on our personal blogs. We've decided to create a blog to specifically house the "official" Daring Baker blogroll that we can update constantly. So will still point to my right sidebar, which will direct you to a link which will bring you to the list of our active and gorgeous members. Woot!

Whatcha waiting for?? Go read! :D


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Comments on "It's All Done With Mirrors..."


Blogger leslie @ definitely not martha said ... (7/30/2007 10:02 AM) : 

Colours aside, sounds like you had a lot of success with your day with the Tartelette. Presentation looks great, and I also overcooked my cake layers. Isn't it fun to experiment with these scary recipes??? :)


Blogger Kelly-Jane said ... (7/30/2007 10:05 AM) : 

It looks fab Lis, even if it took forever! hee hee :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 10:24 AM) : 

Hi Lis! Oh I've missed reading your posts - I just adore you!
I think you cake still turned out beautifully. And all of that hard work just makes the cake that much more delicious to enjoy! I'm so glad you got to share your baking time with a good friend!


Blogger Anita said ... (7/30/2007 10:30 AM) : 

Your cake looks wonderful, and I love how you photographed them. Thanks again for all your hard work in organizing these events!


Blogger Deborah said ... (7/30/2007 10:37 AM) : 

Well, at least you didn't have little gelatin balls in yours like I did!! I wasn't too keen on the taste, but then again, I blame my strawberries. At least you had fun!!


Blogger Hilda said ... (7/30/2007 10:53 AM) : 

It looks like it must be tasty, so only you know how it actually tasted in the end. That is odd though about how for some reason it didn't work out for you. The second time I made it it was much better than the first, so maybe another try would be the charm?


Blogger Andrea said ... (7/30/2007 11:00 AM) : 

Sounds like you and Tartelette had a great time! The cake looks wonderful!


Blogger Ilva said ... (7/30/2007 11:18 AM) : 

It looks so good though! And I envy you the good time you two had making it! Not that I can complain as i did it with Tanna and Karen in the virtual way! xxoo


Blogger Heather said ... (7/30/2007 11:52 AM) : 

I had the same reaction out of my tasting crowd. Everyone finished their piece, but there were no seconds and I was told it would be ok if I shared with other people.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 12:23 PM) : 

LOL!!! Loved reading that! You are a riot (as we used to say back in my youth). Boy, you sure did a great job with the sponge. Mine were pathetic. Seriously. And "melted pencil erasers"? That will stick in my mind forever! Great post! Like you, I was working on this recipe into the wee hours.


Blogger Sara said ... (7/30/2007 1:06 PM) : 

Ah, Lis they can't all be winners. Come to my house and have a piece of mine before Scott eats it all!


Blogger breadchick said ... (7/30/2007 1:33 PM) : 

Lis, as usual, your post cracked me up! I love how you and Helen put this together and I'm sure there was no laughing, no drinking and it was all seriousness in the kitchen ;-) You always do such a wonderful job with your challenges (whether you believe it or not)!



Blogger Nazca said ... (7/30/2007 1:56 PM) : 

Love the pic! It's like a slice of Titanic coming at you! :-) NOT that it looks heavy and bland! :-S

er... Looks lovely! :-D


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 2:41 PM) : 

Are you sure it's not the wine , sis?:) Hot pink aside, your cake looks terrific , I wouldn't even think that the bavarian cream would taste like melted eraser. Wait let me be could you mess up the delicious cream??!!! But thanks for the hysterical laugh I am having right now. It's dangerous to put you and the Tartelette together!


Blogger Peabody said ... (7/30/2007 2:47 PM) : 

Oh you crazy girl! I know I am always in for a good story when I come here.
Yeah, I am one of the few people who's bavarian cream set up right away I have noticed. Now I am trying to figure out why? I didn't add any extra gelatin and mine was far from rubbery. Oh and mine is hot pink too...but that is because I added Easter egg dye...just for fun.
Well done Lis, I bet if you had a few less distractions it would have been fantastic.


Blogger Dagmar said ... (7/30/2007 2:59 PM) : 

It looks great though. Maybe the gelatine differs depending on brand?


Blogger Meeta K. Wolff said ... (7/30/2007 3:02 PM) : 

Awesome! I love you and your posts. I knew you and Helene would have a great time making this cake and even though it takes ages I think it turned out really great!


Blogger Helene said ... (7/30/2007 3:02 PM) : 

You are the only gal I would bathe ina pool of gelatin with!!! I remember the color the day after and thought "Holy Birdie! That's a new one!" I believe that gelatin in Ohio takes on a life is its own...all that fresh air!!
Gorgeous cake anyway!


Blogger Cheryl said ... (7/30/2007 3:39 PM) : 

I have no clue what happened with yours either. But I still think it looks great.

And I hope you gave your feet a little rest after that.


Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said ... (7/30/2007 3:47 PM) : 

When you are basking in the glory and laughter of friendship, some things about the world will always remain a mystery. Sue & I have been know to step into another dimension and fun always ensues, usually we're able to eat also.
Hey it looks good.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 4:34 PM) : 

you crack me up, as per usual, and I want to see the macarons you made with Helene!


Blogger Laura said ... (7/30/2007 4:55 PM) : 

I can't believe something that looks so pretty didn't taste amazing too. Every time I read about you and Helen I feel so lonesome in my kitchen! I think you should have one of us DBers over to stay for EVERY challenge!


Blogger Alpineberry Mary said ... (7/30/2007 5:05 PM) : 

This was quite the marathon baking session! Maybe it was the wine? Anyhoo, you totally crack me up. Sorry your cake conjured up the Mojave and Pepto B. =)


Blogger Anh said ... (7/30/2007 6:22 PM) : 

Lis, you promised this cake was fun to make and it was!

So jealous with you and Helen - you guys can bake together! Ot must be great fun.

And the cake does look wonderful!


Blogger Elle said ... (7/30/2007 6:50 PM) : 

As usual, Lis, you get an award for most creative and humorous write-up. Love the melted pencil eraser reference :). Even if it took Photoshop creativity, your cake is gorgeous to look at. Sorry it was less fun to eat. You always imagine me smiling 'cuz when I read your blog I always leave smiling.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 7:14 PM) : 

Hello!!! That is one gorgeous cake. I love the even pinkness of the cream. And of course your post is just so funny. So funny! No one writes like you, my sweet Lis!


Blogger Jenny said ... (7/30/2007 7:31 PM) : 

I'm sorry Lis, but thanks - you've made me feel a bit better about my own cake!
Great read! Wish I could have joined you!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 7:39 PM) : 

haha! good post! i wasn't so happy with the way mine tasted either. i love new blogroll, BTW.


Blogger Anne said ... (7/30/2007 8:07 PM) : 

wonderful post as always! The cake is lovely!


Blogger Connie said ... (7/30/2007 8:17 PM) : 

ha! melted erasers... while the texture of it all wasn't to your liking, i think you have a good over all cream to cake ratio. its all very pretty and even at least!


Blogger Belinda said ... (7/30/2007 9:32 PM) : 

Gosh, it looks gorgeous, Lis! I can't even imagine it not tasting equally scrumptious. And at the very least, you and "Tartlette" had a great time creating this pink confection. :-)


Blogger Morven said ... (7/30/2007 9:40 PM) : 

Well it LOOKS good enough to eat. Taste Schmaste I say!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/30/2007 10:05 PM) : 

Thanks Lis, I must say you and I are in the same boat... I'm really more of a cook then a baker. But I am quickly becoming a little a both. I hope to learn from all of my db'ers!!!



Blogger Chris said ... (7/30/2007 11:39 PM) : 

Lis - you're too funny...With all the issues, you're cake looks great! And for all your efforts - a pair of shoes for you...:) hee hee hee....2, 3, or 4 inch heels? :)


Blogger monica said ... (7/30/2007 11:51 PM) : 

well at least you had fun! it still looks yummy though!


Blogger Amrita said ... (7/31/2007 5:02 AM) : 

Love the color of your bavarian cream!!! Thumbs up!


Blogger KJ said ... (7/31/2007 6:00 AM) : 

Magenta and pepto bismal. LOL.

Great post. At least you had fun making it. There is always a silver lining.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/31/2007 8:58 AM) : 

Even when I'm not feeling well your posts makes me chuckle, which is pretty freaking amazing if you ask me. How cool that you got to bake with Helene!

Ari (Baking and Books)


Blogger Patricia Scarpin said ... (7/31/2007 9:49 AM) : 

I'm sure it tasted divine, Lis!


Blogger Inne said ... (7/31/2007 11:07 AM) : 

Sounds like you had a great time with a certain French pastry chef, Lis. Though I think I might stake a claim to the title of longest cake making session ever. With running to the shops and having to redo things, it took me all weekend! For a cake that I didn't even like...


Blogger Amy said ... (8/01/2007 2:10 AM) : 

Your post was hilarious hehehe! Sounds like you and Helen had a great time. :)


Blogger Dolores said ... (8/01/2007 3:51 PM) : 

Lis, I absolutely adore the way you tell a story! Peptol Bismol... I'm glad I'd taken the time to empty MY tiny bladder before I got to your post.


Blogger Jerry said ... (8/01/2007 4:31 PM) : 

Looks like a huge success! Daring Bakers take their time to make them beautiful.


Blogger Unknown said ... (8/01/2007 8:41 PM) : 

I like the cartoon colors. :) And how lucky are you to have such a great visit!


Blogger Holly Dart said ... (8/02/2007 2:35 PM) : 

how fun that you got together with tartelette! i envy you both! sounds like a fun weekend.

the bavarian looks so pretty and smooth. Too bad it was rubbery.

I've been a fan of yours for a while- love your site!


Blogger Thistlemoon said ... (8/02/2007 2:46 PM) : 

This looks beautiful! Well done!


Blogger SteamyKitchen said ... (8/02/2007 10:30 PM) : 

My fav photo is the 2nd one - LOVE the FAT wedge!

::i wore these colors today!!!::

made me really really smiley happy.


Blogger Cynthia said ... (8/03/2007 5:53 PM) : 

I love reading you... so alive. The cake looks great and thanks so much for your useful review of the process and taste.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/04/2007 11:57 PM) : 

I'm so glad you at the very least had a great time. What a beautiful cake!


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