Mar 30, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

I believe I started my last post--on the Orange Glow Chiffon Cake--by noting, rather smugly, in retrospect, that I still read the recipe directions pretty carefully.  Not carefully enough to see that I was supposed to use unbleached AP flour instead of bleached.  And not carefully enough to remember to insert the rose nail in the batter until after the cake was already in the oven.

I was glad to see I wasn't alone:  not the only one in this group of careful, thorough, excellent bakers to have trouble reading.  Fortunately, I wasn't the only one to end up with a nearly perfect cake despite a less than perfect attention span.

What really tickled me is that I wasn't the only one to forget the rose nail--when the whole point of this cake is that the rose nail allows you to make a chiffon cake as a layer cake, and not in a tube pan.

Jenn, usually as meticulous as they come, did just what I did: "I had already taken out my flower nail before starting the cake, but had somehow forgotten about it (it was hidden behind the the book). And only after the cake's been in the oven for 10 minutes I remembered the flower nail. What to do? I quickly open the oven door, grab the pan and stuck the flower nail in the middle of the cake anyway." Her cake sunk a bit, which she blamed on the tardy nail insertion, but, according to Woody, the cake is bound to fall.

, also careful (and determined--remember when she baked the Catalan Pinch Cake four times, trying to get the eggs to behave?), did the same thing: "The cake mixed up quite easily and I popped it straight into the oven forgetting the flower nail. Five minutes into baking and more than five swear words later, I shoved it into the batter hoping the whole thing wouldn't deflate." (It didn't).

Like me, Jennifer "glossed over" the fact that the layer cake, unlike the Bostini, called for unbleached flour. No harm done. No, any harm that befell her cake was due to a bit of a cock-up on the cooling front (to paraphrase a character in The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin). You can see what happened when you look at her photo captioned, "Bakers of the world: do not do this."

Nancy also missed the part about unbleached flour and just did the cake flour version of the Bostini base; she attributed that little error to her cake's ending up with a "concave bottom." Nancy also recommends not using Seville marmalade in the whipped cream--delicious on toast, but not sweet enough to sweeten the cream. Even so, she liked the cake, finding it "nicely flavored and well balanced with the orange whipped cream."
Of course, if you don't have a flower nail in the first place, this cake isn't going to work.

At least, that was Lola's conclusion, after she tried to make do with a two-inch metal decorating tip instead of a flower nail. Or maybe it was her cake strips--she says she's been having trouble with them. Whatever happened, the cake didn't. Or at least not as a cake. Undaunted, however, she translated the messed-up cake into a trifle, where it looked beautiful.

There being no Michael's outlet in Poland, Lois opted to make cupcakes, as in the Bostini recipe, topped with the True Orange Whipped Cream. Lois has sent so many offerings to Ed's office that she figures "the Polish Air Force will think that Americans are dedicated bakers."

Kristina had the flower nail, but, when she saw that her springform pan was only about two inches high, realized that it wasn't going to work for this high and handsome cake, so she simply baked it in a tube pan, a la The Cake Bible's version of the orange chiffon cake. She too is taking the rest of her cake into the office. (Is there a luckier group of co-workers anywhere than those who work with The Heavenly Bakers?)

But I'm making it sound like everyone had problems with something, when that's not at all the case.

Alice, for example, didn't think she much cared for chiffon cakes. But now she figures she "just hadn't met the right one before." She liked this one so much that, after feeding it to her friends and neighbors, she promptly baked another one. " Yes, that's right...I made two orange-glow chiffon cakes within about 5 hours of each other."

Shandy, who posted both about this cake and the devil's food cake, "loved the cake, and loved the true orange whipped cream!" Shandy also had some nice things to say about the rest of the Heavenly Cake Bakers: we are "captivating, in-depth, enthusiastic, imaginative, and open to new ideas."

Like Sarah, for example. She's not a lover of orange desserts, which always "remind her of Flintstones chewables." Or, as she put it, she was just not "feelin' this cake." Still, she went ahead and made it. And ate it. Even though, while she found "the texture was glorious," "the flavor [was] not great. Again, not the cake’s fault. My palate was simply not designed for the combination of orange and sugar on that level. Just the thought of a creamsicle sends chills up my spine." What?? How can you not like a creamsicle. Oh well, Heavenly Cake Bakers are not judgmental either.

Our FEATURED BAKER this week is Raymond, who can wax rhapsodic over chiffon cakes more than anyone I know. He has yet to meet a chiffon cake he doesn't like, and thinks he likes this one the best of all. As he says, "It is light and delicate, almost like an angel food cake, with a bright and lively flavor of orange. It needs no adornment and can most definitely stand on its own. While I like it as a snack cake and to pair with a cup of tea in the afternoon, it can certainly hold up as a fine dessert when paired with the orange cream."

Dear Bakers, only five more scheduled cakes and two Free Choice weeks. And we will then have baked our way through the entire book (except, as Woody never tires of reminding me, the Wedding Cakes chapter). Woody, maybe you can talk Jenn into baking a wedding cake. But not me.

I am looking forward to next week's Karmel Cake, however. This cake as "soft textured and deeply flavorful." Well, that sounds good. And it also gives us another chance to perfect our caramel-making skills. Warning: the instructions say that "the mixture will look slightly curdled." Since none of us like to see things that looked curdled, it's good to know about this possibility. And the batter looks very simple once the caramel's been made.

The two cakes after the Karmel Cake are both from the "Butter and Oil Cakes" chapter; after they're done, we'll be done with that chapter too.

I'm always glad to be a baker, but this week I'm proud as well. This Saturday, April 2, there will be many Bake Sales for Japan. Jennifer has written about this on her blog, as has Rachelino.

If there's no Bake Sale for Japan where you are, you may still be able to find a way to participate. Hanaa's employer is having a similar bake sale, and she's contributing to that as well.

Mar 28, 2011

Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

I loved this cake in its supporting role in the Bostini (because in my opinion the star of that show was the pastry cream sauce), so I was curious about how it would be on its own. I was also curious about the flower nail (since I didn't even know if it was a "flour" or "flower" nail--the book uses both terms), but not too worried since Hanaa was going to supply the nail. Then Hanaa caught a cold and bowed out of the team baking project (hope you're feeling better, Hanaa!) and I decided it was time to get my own. Jim volunteered to make a trip to Michael's to pick one up--only after we both googled "flower nail" did we figure out exactly what it was. And Jim, who nearly suffered an acute anxiety attack when he walked into Michael's and saw the aisles and aisles of "stuff," as he referred to it, somehow zoomed straight to the flower nail and was able to exit the store without hyperventilating. After that, everything was easy.

I have been at this quixotic cake project for nearly two years now, and, while I think I should be able to make cake in my sleep, I still read the directions pretty carefully. The technique for this one is easy: mix all the ingredients except the egg whites until you have a thick, yellowish batter.

Then beat the egg whites until you get a meringue with stiff peaks.

And fold the two together.

I almost forgot to insert the rose pin. I had the cake in the oven for about 20 seconds when I remembered. I screamed a ladylike scream, grabbed the cake out of the oven, and inserted the pin.

No harm seemed to come to the cake. It came out of the oven looking perfect (were it not for the odd nail-like thing sticking out of the center).

After cooling in the pan for an hour, it came out of the pan, still looking good.

By this time Woody had arrived. He was very impressed with how level the cake was. He had been expecting it to sink. He also had lots of ideas for photographs: "Let's take a picture of the cake in the snow!" Jim looked at him as if he had just started speaking in tongues. But finally he agreed.

Woody did not drop the cake in a snowbank. And, after I whipped some cream with orange marmalade, I served the cake with a dollop of the cream and a dollop of some blood orange curd that Woody had brought along. (Woody always brings samples of his latest projects--he's a great person to invite to your house!)

Yes, the cake stands beautifully on its own. Although the whipped cream and the blood orange curd were great accompaniments, it didn't require accompaniments. It's delicate and flavorful, with a great texture and a perky, natural orange flavor. And that closes the "Sponge Cake" chapter--we started on June 8, 2009 with the Torta de Las Tres Leches and have made all the other sponge cakes in the chapter, including various angel food cakes, which I believe I've finally figured out how to bake. The orange chiffon cake is a great way to wrap up this varied and delicious assortment.


Sarah: "I love it! With the orange curd and the marmalade whipped cream, it seems very British--like something you'd get for tea at a high-toned tea shoppe."  (I'm sure she said "shoppe" not just "shop.")

Woody: "It turned out very well. I'd like to know how you got it to stay so level."

Jim: "Chocolate's always my favorite, but this is excellent. It's nice and moist. A good way of picking up some Vitamin C."

Mar 23, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

Another round of catch-up cakes. As usual, most people go to the Quick &  Easy list for their Free Choice. Nothing wrong with that--as Nancy (who did not choose the No Bake Whipped Cream Cheesecake from the Q&E list) said, "I am finding these multi-component cakes more of a struggle to tackle, probably in some combination of cake-of-the-week fatigue and a higher stress level from other stuff than usual. After the bake-along winds up..., I'll need a long break from recipes that need more than a couple of components, especially if one of them involves beating sugar syrup into egg whites." Well, we all have our particular bête noire: for some of us it's Italian meringue; for some it's piping.

Alice gets extra credit for veering away from the Q&E Route since she's new enough to the group that she still has most of them on her To Bake List. Instead, she opted for the tiramisu instead of the red velvet cake because it was "more of a challenge." It was her first attempt at ladyfingers. Most of you will sympathize with her struggles.

Both Raymond and Vicki baked the "She Loves Me" cake, which Vicki aptly renamed the "They All Love Me Now" cake, since we all know the way to anyone's heart is through their cake-eating stomach. "Simple and very satisfying," says Raymond. "Straight to the top of the Make Again List," says Vicki.

Jennifer also did one of the satisfying yellow cakes, in the form of Yellow Butter Cupcakes topped with leftover white chocolate lemon buttercream. What a great thing to have leftovers of! So much nicer than, say, tuna casserole. After "falling off the baking bandwagon" for a few weeks, Jennifer is back (and a force to be reckoned with, judging from her teaser photo of the Devil's Food Cake).

Jenn posted an even mini-er version of the Mini Vanilla Bean Poundcakes, turning the little cakes into cupcakes. Although the book's version of these cakes isn't frosted, Jenn thought it would be "fun" to make buttercream. She tried Lyle's Golden Syrup in neooclassic buttercream, "flavored with orange flower water and orange oil." Exotic! If that wasn't enough, she "took a bar of Green & Blacks white chocolate [she] had in the freezer and grated some over the cupcakes. The topped with little pink non pareils for more cute effect."

Maria was amazed by the simplicity and flavor of the Whipped Cream Cake. If you haven't looked at her photo yet, check out her version of "dessert paradise," the whipped cream cake topped with strawberries and figs, mixed with jam and a bit of Chambord.

Lois went in a different direction from these choices with her English Gingerbread cake, figuring it would be a good dessert for her st. Patrick's Day dinner. (Yes, she assures us, "the Irish make gingerbread too"). She was especially pleased at being able to find Lyle's Golden Syrup--"it took three stores, but it was worth it."

I've just changed the "Next in the Oven" section to list all the upcoming cakes. As you can see, we'll be finishing up with Zach's La Bomba cake on May 16. Rose said this would be a perfect cake to end the project with (except, of course, those of you who want to keep on baking with Jenn) because it would be a culmination of everything we've learned along the way. We'll also have two Free Choice weeks in a row, since I'll be in France for those two weeks.

But before we get to La Bomba, let's just concentrate on making the Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake. Here in Minnesota, where we've just had a spring snowfall topped with gray skies, we need some glow. For those of you who've made the Bostini, you know how good this cake is--and it will be fun to try it as a layer cake. Especially topped with orange marmalade whipped cream. If Hanaa gets her way, there will be some chocolate worked in somehow.

Coming up: the Karmel Cake (both caramel and Karmel), topped with "a cloud of Coffee Cream." Rose, what are you doing to me? I'm afraid to step on the scale.

Mar 20, 2011

Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake

The chocolate tweed angel food cake is the only cake I've made that was an utter failure. So I decided I'd better use this Free Choice week to redeem myself. I have made one plain angel food cake that turned out great (for Angel Food Cake Any Way You Like week), but the tweed version still eluded me. Now that I've made three angel food cakes, I can say that they are very, very easy. From now on, I'll make them whenever my stash of frozen egg whites needs to be used up. Unfortunately, I must have used that stash for something else, because I rooted around in the freezer and found a lot of interesting--mostly unlabelled--stuff (is that veal stock or chocolate ganache?), but no frozen egg whites. So I cracked eight eggs. Now I have eight egg yolks.

The first time I made an angel food cake (the failure), I was worrying about never having done it before. The second time I made it (the non-failure), I was worrying about the failure. It took the third time for me to figure out that it's just a lot of beaten egg whites with flour, sugar, and flavorings whisked in. This time--because it's chocolate tweed--the flavoring was grated chocolate.

I went whole hog on Green  Black's. For the cake, I used a deep 85% chocolate (I was supposed to use unsweetened). For the whipped cream, I used 60% chocolate with hazelnuts and currants (I was supposed to use plain chocolate and ground almonds). For a person like me--who tries never to veer from the recipe in the slightest--these minor changes were exhilarating. I felt like I was in college, sneaking out of the dorm.

Here's what I still don't get the hang of: you're supposed to "sperad a thin layer of batter onto the sides of the prepared pan to ensure smooth sides." I did this, but apparently I didn't do it well enough because I still had some holes and bumps on the sides.

The cake will "sink to almost level with the pan when done." Check. "The surface will have deep cracks, like a souffle." Check. I let it bake for another two minutes, just to be safe. I put the pan over a funnel and let it cool. The cake did not fall out of the pan. This means that it's a success, no matter what it tastes like.

My junior-sized, eight-cup angel food cake pan (for which I used half a recipe), is only one piece, so you really have to have faith that the cake will somehow extricate itself from the ungreased cake pan. Surprisingly, it did.

If you're feeling critical, you can look at this picture and see that the sides aren't smooth. If you're feeling happy, you can look at the picture and see all the grated chocolate.

I believe that this is the first time I've ever sliced an angel food cake into three tiers. And people say there are no thrills left after you're 65.

What could be better on a chocolate tweed cake than chocolate tweed whipped cream? Also known as chocolate-spangled whipped cream.

My only question now is what I'm going to do with all those egg yolks.


Karen: "It's really delicious, and I don't even like angel food cake. It tastes like real cake--it doesn't have that nasty artificial taste that angel food cake usually has. And it's just the right amount of chocolate. I didn't think I'd be able to finish it, but it was so good."

Jim: "Angel food cake usually tastes kind of gummy to me, but this cake has a nice texture. The little bit of grated chocolate adds a lot of flavor."

Mar 17, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

Before I get to the Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache, let me share a few pictures of our vacation.

Sigh. OK, that's enough! It's good to be home, it's good to be home, it's good to be home....

And it really was good to read about all of your cakes. It made me sorry I'd been in such a hurry to get rid of my two chocolate cakes.

This cake packed a powerful chocolate punch, so if you're just not that in to chocolate, you were probably not into the cake.

Examples of being into the cake--Raymond: "The addition of the cognac cherries and golden syrup transform this simple cake from the ordinary to the sublime."

Jenn: Be still my heart! This is the ultimate chocolate cake! The chocolate cake is fudgy and moist - like a really good brownie. And the ganache. Let me tell you! This ganache is a killer.

Example of not being into the cake--Maria: "Mine was dense (not good dense), dry and bitter (not luscious). The frosting was also disappointing.... I found [it] to be a little thin and the cocoa added too much bitter dryness. For those of you that know me, you know what a terrible sport I am and so.... I will take myself to the opposite end of the "Featured Baker" spot and sulk." (This doesn't sound like the writing of a "terrible sport," does it?)

The main variations that people made to this cake, not surprisingly, involved the cognac cherries.

Monica said goodbye to the cherries entirely--as just a needless distraction from the cognac.

Lola substituted a "nice French Black Cherry fruit jam," since she had no dried cherries on hand.

Vicki spread strawberry jam on the cake she set aside for the kids; the other one, which she dubbed her "DUI cake," got the cognac cherries, but cut up and poured over the cake instead of being placed whole in the center.

Lois used cherry brandy instead of cognac--seems like a good idea. As long as she was using the brandy for the cake, might as well pour a couple of glasses to drink. Cheers!

Nancy did the cherries and cognac, but didn't add the extra corn syrup. And, as did some others, Nancy had some trouble with the ganache not setting: "It had been 7 hours sitting at room temperature but was still gloopy, to use a technical term."

There were also some variations in the chocolate. Alice--sort of accidentally--ended up with a wonderful whipped ganache after she got tired of waiting for her ganache to set and wondered what would happen if she beat the heck out of it.

Poor Katya all unsuspectingly bought "cocoa" at Trader Joe's, only to discover that she hadn't picked up cocoa powder, but had instead grabbed hot chocolate mix. But the cake was very forgiving--"it was still the right kind of gooey all-American cake.... It's a very solid base cake for all kinds of shenanigans."

Welcome back to Nicola, who is also our FEATURED BAKER. When I don't hear from people for a while, I start to worry about them. But Nicola is back--with "the cake that finally made it past the deeply guarded barriers of procrastination." She also noticed the excessive tenderness that sent Rose back to the drawing board for another mixing method: "The cake itself ... is quite crumbly. There is no way you can sneak a piece of this cake. A friend dropped over to collect Chris for an early morning motorbike ride on Sunday and helped himself to a slice of cake. I knew this even before I lifted the lid on the cake plate because there were chocolate crumbs all over the floor." I hadn't really thought of it, but not being able to sneak a piece of cake may indeed be a drawback.

Next week is Free Choice Week. You all know the drill on this. Pick one of the cakes that the group has made but you haven't. There are so many good cakes out there. What will it be?

And after that, our final cake from the sponge cake chapter: Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake, in which Rose and Woodyh discover that "using unbleached all-purpose flour and an ungreased, unlined springform pan changed everything." You will need a flat flower (or flour) nail. Fortunately for me, I plan to bake this cake with Hanaa, who not only knows what the nail is; she has one. If the idea of the chiffon layer cake isn't enough to tempt you, think about serving it with True Orange Whipped Cream.

Mar 13, 2011

Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

This is the cake that I made last weekend (the Weekend of the Two Chocolate Cakes) and was the second of two that I attacked. At first, I thought I'd finish them both by 5:00 (the time the potluck party started--the one where I said I'd bring cake whether the hostess liked iti or not), but this little baby wasn't frosted at 5:00, and I was already committed to the raspberry cake anyway. This one was going to have to wait for Monday, when it would go into the office to feed some lawyers.

The dried sour cherries have been soaking in Cognac and Lyle's Syrup overnight. After I tasted them, I thought maybe I'd let them soak a little too long because the flavors you could taste were, in order, cognac, cognac, and cognac. Maybe a cherry-flavored cognac? They would be lovely on ice cream, or some flaming dessert, but I thought they might be a little much for an afternoon cake. I rinsed them and dried them.

More of that chocolate chopping! And lots of it. I was glad I'd cut the recipe in half; otherwise, I'd have to chop twice as much. No doubt you're impressed by my brilliant analytical mind.

I was determined to get the caramel right this time! I decided that my main problem lies in trying to make sure the caramel is sufficiently caramelized, which led me to leave it on the burner just a few seconds longer. By then, the thermometer would register above the correct number. This time, I decided, I'd be sure to remove the pan from the heat at 360--a full ten degrees lower than the proper temperature of 370. (No, I didn't take it off the heat at 192.4

I was overjoyed with the way it turned out. I kept looking around for little caramel droplets that I could lick up. I wanted to just stop right there, forget about the rest of the ganache, and eat up all the caramel sauce. But because I'm a mature person, I didn't.

Instead, I mixed more chopped chocolate into the hot caramel.

And then I added the dissolved cocoa mixture into the chocolate-caramel mixture, for an even more chocolate intensity. Truthfully, I was missing the caramel. If you were given your choice between a beautifully homemade truffle and a beautifully homemade caramel, which would you take? I'd be sad to miss the truffle, but I'd take the caramel.

And now it's time for the chocolate cake. Over the weekend, I used up all the 62% chocolate I had on hand, most of the white chocolate, well over half of my stash of cocoa, not to mention ridiculously large amounts of flour and sugar. And I was only baking small cakes! This cake starts out with a mixture of cocoa and unsweetened chocolate (or, for a "more mellow" flavor, cocoa and semisweet chocolate).

Half a cake called for one egg and one egg yolk. To make up for my egg yolk shortage, I called on my last quail egg.

The batter looked so light and delicious that I was a little sorry to add chocolate to it.

But after adding chocolate and beating for a few minutes, the batter looked even lighter and fluffier.

And it baked into a nicely textured chocolate cake. It was more difficult to judge doneness on these little cakes,, but they both turned out okay.

The ganache, after sitting around for about ten hours, was rich, dark, and spreadable. So good that I didn't want to use it all for frosting the cake--after baking all day, I deserved to lick the bowl, right? The caramel flavor was subtle. I wouldn't have minded a little less subtlety, but it was very good.

With the large amount of frosting between layers, the addition of plump cherries, and the fact that I didn't do a great job of centering the top layer, there was a huge gap between layers. This gap led to sides that weren't perfectly straight. I must say that I've found that people are not at all interested in hearing your monologue about all the things that are wrong with the cake--they just want you to shut up, slice into the cake, and serve them some.

So that's what I did. But first, I cut a slice for Jim because I didn't think I'd be bringing any cake home, and he feels very mistreated if he hangs around the kitchen photographing the cake and then doesn't even get to taste it.


Dianne: "Is this a Black Forest Cake? I really like the cherries and the chocolate together."
Erika: "That's because she soaked the cherries in cognac. That's why I'm so tired now. It's from eating cognac in the middle of the afternoon."
Rachel: "There's no more alcohol in cognac than in vanilla. I made vanilla once. I just put a vanilla bean in vodka."
Wolanda: "You can test positive on a urine test from drinking vanilla or Nyquil."
Julie: "Anyway, the cake is great. Are you serious that you want to give the rest of it away? I'll take it."
[This is how conversation degenerates among criminal defense lawyers].
Jim: The cake is delicious. I really like the alcohol-laden cherries, and the rich, rich chocolate.

Mar 6, 2011

Moist Chocolate Raspberry Genoise

Sometime in the middle of the week, I realized that I had to make two huge chocolate cakes this weekend, and had to write about them both before I left for Puerto Rico on Tuesday. I fretted about this for hours. I checked the recipes. The raspberry genoise serves 18; the devil's food cake with midnight ganache serves 20. How was I going to find 38 people to eat big hunks of chocolate cake this weekend? And how was I going to blog about both of them? Also, I hadn't replaced my food processor yet, and I always use Rose's food-processor method to make my ganache. Oh woe, woe is me.

Then I remembered my cute little six-inch pans, and I remembered I was going to a party on Sunday where I was supposed to bring wine, but I could bring wine and a cake, couldn't I? I called the hostess and told her I didn't care what she said, I was bringing a cake along with my bottle of wine. She seemed a little surprised about my vehemence, but said that would be okay. Now I could breathe easier.

Then my only problem was that I was baking two chocolate cakes--both in six-inch pans, both frosted with chocolate ganache--on the same day. I knew I'd get confused, and I did, but nothing too horrible happened.

Cake #1 started with the genoise. The first time I made a genoise cake, I wasn't too excited about it. It was so delicate it fell apart, and I thought that any cake that needed some hoity-toity syrup to be edible was too weak and fragile to be a bona fide cake. My ancestors, working in the fields, didn't put syrup on their cakes; of that you may be sure. But then I fell in love with the genoise cakes. Now I'm crazy about their flavor, texture, and versatility. I also love whipping those eggs. I actually forgot about the new chocolate genoise method that Rose wrote about in her blog, but I'm used to the old method by now.

The cakes rose to the tops of the six-inch pans. The cake was pale brown, but smelled like it carried a real chocolate punch.

On to the raspberry-chocolate ganache. Without my food processor, I had to chop the chocolate--a task I don't much like. The last time Hanaa baked at my house, I admired her efficiency and ease when she chopped chocolate, but admiring it isn't the same thing as adopting it. I chopped what seemed like a ton of mixed dark and white chocolates. I need to get that food processor.

I used frozen raspberry puree instead of pureeing and straining frozen raspberries. Straining raspberries is one of my least favorite jobs in the kitchen. I would rather chop chocolate all day long than strain raspberries. And pouring the raspberry puree into cream really made me happy. If I were on a desert island and could have only three foods, raspberries would be one of the three. I just wouldn't strain them.

The ganache turned out to be smooth, rich, and chocolatey. At first I was afraid that the chocolate would overpower the raspberries, but on second taste, I decided that the raspberries weren't hidden by the chocolate; they enhanced each other. I suppose that's why the chocolate-raspberry combination is so popular--it works.

Just a little glug of Chambord can't hurt.

The cakes were small enough that I could cut them with a serrated knife into more or less even layers.

Syruping the cake with cocoa syrup cake next, and then filling the layers with ganache. Even after a few hours at room temperature, the ganache was too runny, although it was dark and smooth. I put it in the refrigerator to thicken it up. Then I did something else with Cake #2; consequently the ganache got too thick. I had one heck of a time frosting the outside of the cake. I banished Jim from the kitchen because he was taking pictures of me doing battle with the ganache (the ganache was winning).

I called him back after the cake finally got frosted. He said, "Oh, it's cute!" I think he was surprised that it turned out looking like a cake. After I ordered him out of the kitchen, he'd thought that this cake was going on the Disaster List.

Despite the trouble I had with the refrigerated ganache, the cake really isn't hard to make, although there are a lot of steps. When you're baking another cake at the same time, it seems like it's more complicated than it really is. And the people at the party loved it.

Cake #2 (the cake for next week) is frosted, in the cake carrier, and ready to go into the office tomorrow. Cake #1 is a thing of the past.

I'm leaving for vacation on Tuesday, so there will be no mid-week post this week. I'll have next week's cake--the Devil's Food with Midnight Ganache--ready to post automatically on Sunday or Monday. Remember to check Rose's blog for the alternative method of mixing the devil's food cake if you want a slightly less tender, less crumbly cake.