Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lesson #100: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Happy Valentine's Day! Or more importantly to my blog, it's my 100th post! Yay! I can't believe that I've posted a HUNDRED recipes since the end of August. To be completely honest, I kinda stressed over what I was going to bake for this occasion. I browsed baking books, TV shows, and other blogs for a few days to find some inspiration. I finally settled on a chocolate covered strawberry cake. Little did I know what an adventure it turned out to be.

First, take a look at the finished product. Looks yummy, right?
Trust me, it tasted as yummy as it looked. However, this is not what I envisioned when I began the cake(s).

I looked through baking books written by some notable pastry chefs. I quickly fell in love with a four layer white chocolate cake with layers of strawberry butter cream frosting encased in a dark chocolate glaze. The recipe was pretty time consuming (the directions spanned over 6 pages!), but I was ready for the challenge. I began by gathering all my ingredients and getting out my baking scale. I was completely determined to make this cake and I set aside an entire day for baking.

I carefully measured all my ingredients to a tee (including egg whites! who measures egg whites in grams? that's right, pastry chefs do!) and set my cakes in the oven to bake. After the recommended amount of time passed, I checked my cakes and they looked done. Honestly, they did! This wasn't my first time baking a cake :) I let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, went to carefully remove them, and the inside was completely uncooked. I set the cakes on a wire rack and the insides fell right through the racks.

Hmmm, I quickly determined that I made a mistake. I must have under baked the cakes. Never a quitter, I decided to try again. First, I had to run to the store because I ran out of white chocolate! OK, so I gathered my ingredients, measured using the scale, and set the cakes in the oven for the second time. I decided that I wasn't going to make the same mistake again and keep checking the cakes to make sure they were done. This time, after 15 extra minutes in the oven, I successfully made the cakes. YES! Now, I only had 4 more pages of detailed instructions :)

I trudged through the directions step-by-step and successfully made the strawberry butter cream and dark chocolate glaze. Now, it was time to assemble. I cut the two cakes in half to create 4 skinny cakes and started to layer the strawberry butter cream. I quickly noticed that I didn't have enough, so I decided to see if I could stretch the frosting that I did have. I ended up with a somewhat lop sided cake, but I decided to continue. Next, I poured the dark chocolate glaze over the cake in a thin layer. So far, so good. I then let the frosting sit for a while to thicken and then applied more glaze along the sides of the cake. Here's where the problems began again!

The glaze was so heavy that it started to seep down the sides of the cake pulling the cake with it. Opps! I had come so far (over 6 pages of directions, two baking attempts, and an extra trip to the store!), I decided to cut the cake and see what happened. Well, it started to fall over. I immediately started laughing uncontrollably and grabbed my camera. Take a look at the mess!
See, the piece on the left is kinda standing, but the second piece flipped off the plate. Notice the chocolate glaze everywhere! My husband (who came running down the stairs when he heard me laughing) and I ate a few bites of cake and tossed the rest. It tasted pretty good, but definitely not worth the work!

Unwilling to be defeated by a cake recipe, I waited a few days before trying again. I decided to change my strategy and recipes. I made the dessert "parfait style" by layering chunks of yellow cake with chocolate and strawberry butter cream garnished with shaved chocolate and fresh strawberries. I used my super-simple one bowl yellow cake recipe and a pretty simple butter cream recipe. No six page recipes here!

Whew, finally my chocolate covered strawberry cake idea came to fruition. I'm now on to my next adventures in baking!
LESSON LEARNED: I need to work on my layer cake skills and sometimes simpler recipes are better.

Recipe for Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake (the one that worked!)

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