Thursday, December 2, 2010
Product Testing & Tutorial: How to bake and decorate a two-tier cake from scratch
It is not every day that I make a cake. I have issues with cake making thanks to a particular disturbing class I took out west that left me not liking cake very much but I had a dilemma.
Yesterday began the third phase of the President's Choice Insider's Report product testing and it began with.... coffee. For most this product testing would be a no-brainer. Brew a cup of joe, right? Well I couldn't. See, me and caffeine do not have a very good relationship. I am really, REALLY sensitive to caffeine that comes from coffee and tea (thankfully chocolate is good to go) so I spent a ton of time yesterday figuring out what to make.
I decided to do two tests in one recipe. Since my gingerbread from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens ended up being such a disaster because I screwed up, I decided to redeem myself by making its 1, 2, 3, 4 Cake and use the PC 100% Hawaiian Medium Roast Coffee to make a mocha frosting for the cake. I figured there are many people who have not made a basic two-tiered cake before so I wrapped it all in a tutorial, just for you! Here we go!
The recipe gets its name because of the different numeric quantities of ingredients used in this recipe. For the sake of clarity, I have written out the recipe the way I made it. Cream 1 cup of butter with 2 cups of sugar until light and creamy. Add four egg yolks one at a time. Sift together 3 cups of flour with 3 tsp of baking powder. Alternate adding dry ingredients with...
... one cup of milk. (Suzie Note: always finish with dry ingredients.)
I added one tsp of Pure Vanilla Bean Paste to the batter but you can just add vanilla extract. I wanted to see the little seeds throughout the batter.
Whip up for the four egg whites and fold into the batter. I like to start with combining a third of the egg whites, combine and then add the rest.
The recipe just says to, "Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour. This can either be baked in a loaf pan or in layers." Well the timing will be different depending on the vessel. I greased two 9" circle cake pans and had them in the oven for around 40 minutes. I realized I could smell them which means they were done (since I have a non-existent sense of smell). Sure enough, I saw they had pulled from the side, risen in the middle, bounced back to touch and the toothpick came out clean. I let them cool on the cooling racks and got to work on the mocha frosting.
First, I brewed up some PC 100% Hawaiian Medium Roast Coffee and made it pretty strong. Then I let it cool for a little while. The cakes had to cool down too.
In a mixer I creamed 1/2 cup of butter then I added 3-4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of sifted cocoa, 1/4 cup of the coffee and 2 tsp of vanilla extract. When it comes to the powdered sugar, how much I used was a bit of a guess. I like to just add as I go, making sure that the frosting is spreadable:
Get out of your plate, add a little frosting on the bottom and then put one of the cakes down on top of the frosting bumpy side up. If you want to get fancy, you can slice the top layer off with a knife so it is perfectly levelled. Me, I just invert the cake. Add some frosting to the lower layer of the cake until it meets the ridge. Top with the second cake layer upside down again. Make sure it is aligned well and push it down to adhere. Top with the rest of the frosting.
I am not usually a huge fan of frosting so I make just enough for the two layers. If you want to cover the entire cake I would suggest doubling the recipe. To make a nice decorative top, swoosh your spatula side to side in a wave when you are done:
That is a very easy way to decorate your first cake and people will be impressed not only with the appearance but that you made the whole thing from scratch. And it really was not that hard!
The big question is of course, how did it taste? The cake itself was a bit over-baked and dry for my liking. I wish the instructions had been more clear about baking times. Thank goodness I checked in on the cakes when I did otherwise it would have been inedible. Even with taking them out early, the edge of the cake was quite hard and dry. Thankfully the inside of the cake was quite lovely. A very nice basic cake, perfect for the beginner cake maker. One thing I do love about this cake is the use of egg whites. Folding in lots of egg whites is the way they used to leaven cakes in the olden days so I appreciated that. Just make sure to not bake for an hour! Check doneness after 30 minutes. I give this cake recipe four out of five wooden spoons.
The mocha frosting with the PC 100% Hawaiian Medium Roast Coffee??? Out of this world!!! For the first time I wish I had slathered a cake with frosting. It was so delicious, the coffee so present and aromatic and fabulous, I would have just sat there eating the whole bowl of frosting if I let myself. Which I didn't! I was so happy to discover that the fantastic aromatic body of the coffee was there in the taste of the frosting. And so far, no migraine! I give the PC 100% Hawaiian Medium Roast Coffee five out of five wooden spoons.