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Birthday cake baking

Most of today has been consumed by baking...no, preparing...another birthday cake for younger niece. This is the child with birthdays that span aeons, it seems--the actual day is December 30, when her family is usually visiting relatives in Arizona. There is a celebration there, but then there's another "family" meal/celebration when they return which includes me. The winter school break means that a party with friends must be postponed...and that tends to drag on, as both kids and parents have very busy schedules.

This year there was a sleep-over with friends in January, I think--can't remember if I baked a cake for that one, but I think I did. (Having failed to take a picture of it for a tangible reminder, my brain has turned loose of the memory.) But now there's yet another party--the sleep-over was (mostly) for friends from the school she attended last year. This party is for the current school friends, and will be at Atlanta Rocks! rock-climbing facility where her previous 2 parties have been. One of those had a rock-climbing cake, the other a candy-decorated castle cake.

This cake goes away from the decorated-party-cake type to looks-like-it-will-taste-marvelous territory. It's a Chocolate Raspberry Bavarian, from Chocolate by Nick Maglieri. (The Web version is from his writing for Chocolatier magazine, I gather, as the photo is the same as in the cookbook.) Basically it's a single layer chocolate cake, split into 2 thin layers, which are brushed with syrup, spread with a thin layer of ganache, and then surrounded by raspberry bavarian. It's a multi-stage production, though none of it is very difficult. Except, as it turns out, the cake. Maglieri says to use his chocolate genoise recipe in the book. I'd never made a genoise, but it didn't look difficult. I decided to get it done before going to Jazzercise at 9:30 this morning, so I assembled my stuff and went at it. Well, either my technique was faulty, the recipe was trickier than I thought, or the Splenda Blend substitute for sugar was a bad idea, for what I got was a half-inch high cake. Think large hockey puck, or thick vinyl LP.

After exercise class, I dug out Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible and found her chocolate genoise. Different proportions, better technique (and better notes), and it gave me a lovely looking cake with lots of height. Too much height, as it turns out, or maybe I should have trimmed it, because I had to build a waxed paper collar to confine the last half-inch of bavarian on top of the cake. Might make it a challenge to unmold tomorrow. Oh, and I abandoned the Splenda Blend--niece will just have to adjust her insulin level a little more.

However, with the double cake baking, a break for a short nap in the early afternoon, then all the steps in the bavarian (including making a plain raspberry syrup to substitute for the raspberry liqueur the recipe called for, being uncertain of the attitude of the parents of the party attendees), it was after 5:30 when I finished.

Oh, yes, final touches. After the kitchen marathon I was not inclined to cook dinner, so I headed to Mama Fu's for Thai green beans with beef, then to the grocery store for fresh raspberries for garnish. Egad! Those berries cost $5.99 for each 6 oz. container--and I wanted 3. I decided I was committed and spent the money, but that's well past my usual choke point for berries. I generally buy raspberries when they're going for $2-$3 for those little containers.


Nancy Barber

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June 2019


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