Tuesday, December 13, 2011

After the Scary Cake Test

This is it. The Cake of Doom. The Cake of Judgement. My grade depends in part on the perfect execution of this amalgam of sweet, sour and technically difficult. Scoring the cake is apparently like Olympic skating, where degree of difficulty comes into play somehow. I'll never know what points were good and which were bad; all I'll receive is a final grade for the class. I will have the satisfaction that comes from inventing something and managing to turn the idea into something not only edible, but enjoyable. If you don't count the stress involved with 25 people all writing little notes about every aspect of the oeuvre.

The idea came from a question: why don't cakes use seasonal fruit, so they taste fresh instead of fake? So what if you can't make this cake in June. That just makes it that much more worth waiting for. So, although there's a bit of orange marmelade (and it could also be a tangerine purée simple syrup), all the fruit flavor comes from fresh, mostly uncooked tangerines.

It's not too sweet, either. It's not supposed to be a rich, heavy thing, but a light fruity interlude before taking a brandy and a fine cigar and heading away from the table.

If you're brave enough to try all this, please keep your common sense. I already found one mistake that would have transformed the thing into a vanilla cake - so think things over before you start. The ingredients are more or less in the order they would be prepared. The Bavarian cream has to be done as one of the final steps just before assembling the cake, since it needs to chill to set. The genoise, chocolate wafer and buttercream can all be made in advance.

This will make two, six inch diameter cakes. I like small cakes; they seem more chic and European that way. I suppose it could also be modified to work in a square pan, although the corners would be tricky.  To assemble, just read the assembly instructions and follow the diagram above. Then do it again, and again and again until it's all just a piece of cake.

Tangerine Dream Cake

Components per cake
  • White chocolate for drizzling   
  • Swiss meringue buttercream, Dark Chocolate   
  • Orange genoise    2    pieces
  • Orange (tangerine) Bavarian Cream   
  • Tangerine slices, seedless   
  • Simple syrup w/Cointreau (or equal)   
  • Orange marmelade   
  • Chocolate wafer (base)    1    piece
Yield: Two, 6” cakes.

Cake assembly
  1. Spread orange marmelade on the chocolate wafer, very thin.
  2. Measure a piece of acetate so that it is just wide enough to cover the fruit layer, but leave the top layer of the cake exposed.
  3. Spread orange marmelade on top of the chocolate wafer.
  4. Place the chocolate wafer in a 6” charlotte ring. 
  5. Spread tangerine-flavored syrup on top of one piece of the genoise, and place it on the wafer.
  6. Arrange tangerine slices around the perimeter, against the acetate, flat  sides down.
  7. Fill with  Bavarian cream to the tops of the tangerine slices.
  8. Add another layer of tangerine slices along the perimeter, rounded sides down (between the other slices)
  9. Fill just over the top of the tangerines with orange Bavarian cream.
  10. Spread flavored syrup on top and bottom of the other piece of the genoise, and place it on top of the buttercream.
  11. Chill until the Bavarian cream is completely set.
  12. Spread the chocolate buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Carefully remove the acetate, and pipe buttercream to cover the lower, exposed, part of the cake. Decorate with crushed leftover pieces from the chocolate wafer mixed with a bit (careful!) of instant coffee.
  14. If it can be done without messing up the cake, place an acetate strip over the fruit layer, and place the cake in a refrigerator to chill and set the buttercream. If not, coat the tangerine slices on the sides with the apricot glaze.
Orange Genoise
  • Sugar    3.75    oz
  • Eggs    3    ea
  • Yolks    3    ea
  • Cake flour    4    oz
  • Sugar    1/2    oz
  • Butter, clarified, warm    1/2    oz
  • Orange extract    1/2    tsp
  • Tangerine zest    1/4    tsp
Two, 6” round cakes.     ± 1 lb 2    oz
Pan preparation
Parchment on the bottom, very lightly grease the sides.
Scale 6 oz batter into a 6" cake round, bake about 20 minutes at 375°F.
The cake will spring back when touched; the cake edges will just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan if the pan has been greased.

  1. Heat sugar, eggs, yolks over bain-marie to 120° F, whisking constantly. Transfer to mixer, add orange extract, whip on medium speed until the foam is pale and thick, and increases 3 times in volume, and holds a ribbon.
  2. Sift flour twice with the sugar. Sift one quarter of the flour over the egg foam, fold in quickly and gently with a spatula, repeat three more times. Stop folding when the last portion of flour is not quite fully folded in.
  3. Fold a small amount of the batter (one spatula full) into the butter, then fold all the butter into the remaining batter.
  4. Divide batter into two cake pans, pan and bake immediately.
Chocolate wafer
  • Unsalted butter, room temp.    4    oz
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder    2    oz
  • Granulated sugar    7    oz
  • Eggs    2    ea
  • Vanilla extract    0.2    oz
  • A.P. flour    4    oz
  • Salt    0.1    oz
  • Water    0.3    oz
  • Baking powder (very small amt)    0.1    oz
  • Yield: makes two, 6” rounds    1 lb 5    oz
  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Put the butter in a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir with the whisk just until the butter is melted.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.
  4. Add the sugar and continue whisking until well blended.
  5. Let the mixture cool for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, water and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
  7. Add the flour and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  8. The batter will be fairly liquid. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spread it about 1/8 thick.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the wafer comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  10. Cut the wafers into 6” rounds before completely cool (don't wait or they’ll crack). Mark the dough with an upside-down cake pan. Cut with a paring knife or small pizza cutter - or use a charlotte pan the same diameter as the cake pan.
  11. Let cool completely. 
  12. Break up remainder and use as crumb decoration for lower part of cake.
  13. You can also crisp the cake up by putting it in a low (200° F) oven.
Tangerine-infused syrup
This is for dabbing into the cake to give it more flavor.

  • Tangerine pulp    4    oz
  • Granulated sugar    4    oz
  • Yield    8    oz
  1. Place all ingredients in a stainless steel pan. Heat until mixture thickens.
  2. Remove from heat, strain through a chinois.
  3. Dab into genoise cake to give it moistness and flavor before assembling the cake.

Orange Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This works with Italian meringue, too - just use the type you're most comfortable with.

  • Egg whites    4    oz
  • Cream of tartar    1/4    tsp
  • Sugar    8    oz
  • Vegetable shortening    2    oz
  • Butter    12    oz
  • Orange extract    1/4    tsp
  • Chocolate, melted & cooled    4    oz
  • Yield:    1 lb 14    oz
  • Place the egg whites and sugar in a stainless steel bowl on top of a bain-marie. Beat with a whip until the mixture reaches 120°F.
  • Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer, whip at high speed until stiff peaks form and the meringue cools to 80°F. This is now Swiss meringue, but it could be done with Italian meringue, too. At this point, either process would work - and the following steps will be the same.
  • Little by little, add the soft butter and chocolate and continue to whip. Add each piece after the previous one has been incorporated. In the same way, whip in the shortening.
  • Continue to whip until the buttercream is smooth.
Tangerine Slices

  • Clementine mandarins, whole    20    oz
  • Yield, peeled (85%)    17    oz
  1. Peel mandarins.
  2. Separate slices
  3. Cut enough slices to go around cake in half, exposing inside of fruit. Place cut side of fruit against acetate when assembling cake.
  4. Reserve 8 slices per cake for decorating the top.
  5. Press remaining tangerine slices into Bavarian cream layer or eat them. If you peel as you go, there won't be a lot of tangerine left over.
Tangerine/Orange Bavarian Cream
The tangerine pulp was unstrained, so it would add a bit of texture to the Bavarian cream. This was part of getting more of a "real fruit" feel to the cake, although there's no reason the pulp could not be strained. I think there's more flavor this way, though.

  • Gelatin, grains    1/4    oz
  • Cold water    2    oz (5 T)
Crème Anglaise   
  • Egg yolks    2    oz
  • Sugar    2    oz
  • Milk    4    oz
  • Vanilla    1/4    tsp
  • Orange extract    1/4    tsp
  • Tangerine (mandarin) zest    1    tsp (or orange zest, or omit)
 Whipped Cream
  • Heavy cream    8    oz (1 cup)
  • Mandarin purée    4    oz
  • Yield:    1 qt 1 pt (48 oz)
  1. Soak the gelatin in the cold water. Make sure you stir it into the water; don't just dump it in or you'll get a strange floppy gelatin disc and some turbid-looking water instead of well-hydrated gelatin.
  2. Prepare the crème anglaise: Whip the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light.
  3. Scald the milk and slowly stir it into the egg yolk mixture, beating constantly.
  4. Cook the crème anglaise over a hot water bath, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. It should coat the back of a spoon, temperature 170°F. Don't get it hotter or it will curdle!
  5. Stir the gelatin sheets into the hot custard sauce until it is dissolved.
  6. Cool the custard sauce in the refrigerator or over crushed ice, stirring constantly to keep the mixture smooth.
  7. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Do not over-whip.
  8. When the custard is very thick but not yet set, fold in the whipped cream. Custard should more or less hold its shape when dropped from a spoon.
  9. Add the tangerine purée. Do NOT add this to the hot milk/egg mixture, as the milk will curdle instantly. Poof! Ruined! Start over! So, don't do it. Instead, add the purée only after the milk has been tempered into the egg mixture!
  10. Spoon the mixture between the tangerines in the cake. Add to just cover the tangerines, leaving a bit over 1/8” over the fruit. Shake the cake gently to settle the Bavarian cream.
Apricot Glaze
This is for coating the tangerine slices to preserve them a bit better and make them glossy. It could presumably be done with strained tangerine jam or jelly, if you could find it instead of apricot glaze. You can also mix apricot jam and simple syrup, although it will be clearer if you strain the jam first.

  • Commercial apricot glaze    1    oz
  • Water    1    oz
  • Yield    2    oz
Dilute glaze in water, bring to a simmer, whisking to prevent lumps.
Use warm, or at least while still somewhat liquid.

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