Friday, September 23, 2011

A Cake for Celebrations

Recipe: Brandied Peaches, Bavarian Cream and Chocolate Gateau

In our quest for the perfect life, there seems to be hardly any time to sit down with loved ones and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. We seem to be in a rush all the time. With the rising cost of living and basic amenities, I wonder if we can ever slow down.

Life would have been unbearably robotic and monotonous, if weren't for the small celebrations of milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. These have become occasions when close family and friends gather together and have a good time.

And what better dessert for such welcome interruptions in our race against time than.. cake! Just perfect to celebrate the occasion, to celebrate the wonderful people and mostly to celebrate togetherness.

Here is a cake that I made for 2 very special people to celebrate their years of togetherness on their wedding anniversary.




With the increased number of power-cuts where I live in Bangalore these days, it is no mean feat to bake a cake in an electric oven (which is what I have). If you intend to do so, you better get on your knees and ask for help from God Almighty to have continuous power at least for the baking time of the cake.




Basically I was looking for a sponge cake recipe with less baking time. After comparing multiple recipes, I setttled in for Ria's Strawberry and Bavarian Cream Gateau. Though there was one small problem. We don't get strawberries in Bangalore at this time of the year. And hence I went with canned peaches which I lightly cooked in good Brandy :) (The cheaper varieties of brandy here are not good and smell like concentrated nail-polish remover) So here's my "Brandied Peaches, Bavarian Cream and Chocolate Gateau"




Another thing that is impossible to find here is whipping cream (35% fat). Though I have no clue why these basic dairy products are missing from Indian shops. After all, milk products are a very important part of Indian food and an essential source of protein.

The last time I tried to ice a cake, I had tried increasing the fat of the commonly available fresh cream (which is 25% fat). But it just didn't whip up and instead separated into butter. Seeing my frustration, my mom managed to befriend the owner of a local bakery who agreed to sell her the whipping cream that they used for decorating their cakes. That was the Rich's whipping Cream and it is not available for retail sale. So it is unlikely to find it in our regular shops. Only thing was that Rich's Whipping Cream is non-dairy. But it still tasted so good - just like regular whipping cream. It was a perfect substitute for the whipping cream in Ria's Bavarian Cream recipe.




While I was about to assemble the cake, I realised that I needed a cake ring or a spring-form tin to set the cake and bavarian cream till cold. Since I didn't have it, I had to make do with the cake tin in which I baked the cake in. The only problem was that cake shrinks after baking.




But no problem is unsolvable! (wish I had this attitude at work too...) So I put on my thinking cap and finally an idea dawned on me :) I layered the inside of the cake tin with 6 layers of paper and then put in aluminum foil as the top-most layer and neatly pushed it in till it looked even. Now the cake would sit snugly in the cake tin and this was perfect to set the Bavarian cream in between the layers of cake without overflowing to the sides of the cake.




BRANDIED PEACHES, BAVARIAN CREAM AND CHOCOLATE GATEAU
Adapted from Ria's Strawberry and Bavarian Cream Gateau


Sponge Cake:
Eggs - 6
Sugar - 1 cup
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp (I didn't have the guts to bake a cake without baking powder)
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
A 10 inch diameter round cake tin


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Separate the eggs. Powder the Sugar. Sift together the flour and the baking powder together.

Beat the egg yolks, vanilla essence and the powdered sugar till well combined.

Add the flour little by little and mix well.

Whip the egg whites till stiff. And gently fold in the egg whites to the cake batter taking care not to deflate them.

Bake for 45 minutes or till the cake springs back to touch.

Let the cake cool over night or for at least 2 hours.

Brandied Peaches:
Peaches - I used Delmonte's canned peaches - 3 -4 full ones or 6 peach halfs
Brandy - 1/3 cup (Use a good quality one)


Chop the peaches into bit sized pieces.

Put it in a flat bottomed pan and pour brandy over them. Increase the flame till the brandy starts boiling to lightly cook the peaches in it. It took me about 2-3 minutes

After it cools, take the peaches out and reserve any leftover liquid so that is can be added to the soaking syrup :)

Soaking syrup for the cake
Any leftover liquid from the brandied peaches
Water - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup


Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and boil till the sugar dissolves. Let it cool to room temperature before use.

Bavarian Cream
Rich's non dairy whipping Cream - 250 ml (Use dairy whipping Cream, ie cream with at least 35% fat, if available)
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Gelatin - 1 and 1/4 tsp
Egg yolks - 3
Sugar - 60g
Warm milk - 250 ml
Slightly warm water - 50ml
A big bowl with a layer of ice on the bottom
A slightly smaller bowl which can fit into the big bowl


Soak the gelatin in the slightly warm water until dissolved.

Powder the sugar.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the smaller bowl. While beating on slow speed, slowly add the warm milk.

Cook this mixture over a double boiler whisking continuously. I used my hand blender in slow speed to continue whisking while double boiling. Do this till the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove from fire and add the melted gelatin and mix well.

Place the smaller bowl inside the bigger bowl which has a layer of ice in it and continue beating at slow speed till the custard cools down.

In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream into peaks and then gently fold it into the custard.


Assembly:


If you have a spring-form pan, it is pretty straight-forward to use for the assembly. Else like me, if you do not have a spring-form pan, take the cake tin in which the cake was baked. And line it's insides neatly and as evenly as possible with 6 layers of paper. And then finally line with aluminium foil as the topmost layer. This is done so that the cake which would have shrunk and pulled away from the sides of the cake tin while baking, fits snugly and the bavarian cream can hold its shape while cooling without overflowing along the sides of the cake.

Cut the cake into 2 equal horizontal halves. It is best to use a long bread knife for this.

Place the bottom layer of the cake into the cake tin. Pour in half of the soaking syrup into this layer of the cake evenly.

Place the brandied peaches on top of the this layer of sugar soaked cake. Add the bavarian cream on top

Then add the top layer of the cake such that the cut side faces up. This is so that it becomes easier to add the soaking syrup into the top layer. Pour in the rest of the soaking syrup evenly all over the cake.


Let it set in the fridge for about 6-8 hours.

After the dessert has set, place the cake stand or the serving plate inverted over the cake tin and flip it. Carefully remove the cake tin and the layers of paper and the finally peel away the last layer of aluminium foil.

Dust the top with cocoa powder and decorate the sides with chocolate lace.


And there you have it - the perfect cake for celebrations :) A big thanks to Ria for inspiring me to try this out - you truly are a "Pachakarani" !

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