Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cookology Baking Bootcamp #3: Understanding Cakes

Cookology's Chef Brad put us to work tonight making Genoise Chocolate and Orange Cake with Citrus Spiced Chocolate Ganache and Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting.

The Genoise Chocolate and Orange Cake with Citrus Spiced Chocolate Ganache sounded divine. It even smelled great and we enjoyed some really wonderful chocolate while making it. For me though, the final product wasn't what I expected and honestly, didn't enjoy all that much. The ganache was great, the wine that they shared (a wonderful Riesling) were to die for...the cake though, for me it was a bit dry. I think I remember Chef Brad saying that this was by design and that it was a more European-acquired taste. Still looked pretty.

The Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting were much more up my alley. I think it was so much fun that in all of these classes we never used an electric mixer or Kitchen Aid type machine. Everything was done by hand, spatula or wisk....everything. Cream that butter and sugar together with your fingers! Messy, but fun and you really gain an appreciation for the texture of various ingredients.

Chef Brad made the Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting ahead of time so that it would have time to set and be ready for our cupcakes. It is sooooo good. So light yet has that cream cheesey taste that everyone loves. The cakes themselves were pretty much like you expect in a cupcake with a moist, light crumb. The lavender and lemon are perfect together and so refreshing. I will DEFINITELY be making these again. In fact, I took the leftover frosting from class so I could get a headstart. :-)

Chocolate Genoise
3 tablespoons hot melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated white sugar

Note: When warming the eggs and sugar, whisk constantly to ensure the eggs do not overheat and curdle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9-inch round cake pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the melted unsalted butter with the vanilla. Keep this mixture warm. If needed, re-warm for a few second just before using.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the eggs and sugar until lukewarm to the touch (this will take approximately 5 minutes depending on the temperature of the eggs and the simmering water). Remove from heat and transfer egg mixture to your electric mixer. Beat on high speed until the egg mixture has cooled, tripled in volume, and looks like softly whipped cream. This will take approximately 5 minutes and the batter is beaten sufficiently when the batter falls back into the bowl in a ribbon-like pattern.

Then sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the whipped eggs and fold using a large rubber spatula or whisk. Fold in half the remaining flour, and then fold in the rest. Do not over mix or you will deflate the batter. Then take about 1 cup of the batter and fold it into the hot butter mixture with a small spatula. (This will lighten the butter mixture and make it easier to incorporate into the egg batter without deflating it.) When completely combined, use a spatula to fold the butter mixture into the rest of the egg batter. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake until the cake shrinks slightly from the edges of the pan and the top springs back when lightly pressed (about 20-25 minutes). Cool on a metal rack. When the cake has cooled completely, run a small knife or spatula around the edges to release the cake. The genoise will keep well-wrapped two days in the refrigerator or else three months frozen.

Chocolate Ganache
1 part chocolate
1 part cream
1 teaspoon of flavoring

Bring cream and flavor to boil. Pour over chocolate and stir to combine.

Lemon Cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar (can use 1 ¼ cup for less sweet taste or ¾ cup Splenda)
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening (very soft but not melted, Crisco is best)
¾ cup milk (or half and half)
1 tablespoon vanilla (or 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract)
2 large eggs
Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour with sugar, baking powder and salt until combined.

Add in the shortening, milk, vanilla, lemon zest and eggs. Beat on medium speed scraping the bowl constantly until just blended (the batter will be thick, you may add a few more tablespoons of milk/cream if you desire).

Pour into paper-lined regular sized muffin tins, filling under ¾ full. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the cupcakes test done. Immediately remove from pans. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup butter (no substitutions), softened
½ cup cream cheese
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.

For Chocolate: Substitute ½ cup baking cocoa for ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar.
For Peanut Butter: Substitute peanut butter for the butter.
For Lemon- or Orange-flavored: Substitute lemon or orange juice for milk and add 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest.
For Almond- or Peppermint-flavored: Substitute almond or peppermint extract for the vanilla.

Enjoy with Love,

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