Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

Birthday cake baking

Most of today has been consumed by, 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.
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate

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