When I first saw the challenge for this month I thought there's no way I can do this, it's way too complicated. Then I realized that this is what the Daring Bakers is all about, pushing yourself to try something you may not have tried otherwise, to try baking techniques and recipes that you otherwise thought you could not do. So with that in mind I was onboard. The main thing with this cake was that it had to be light in flavor as well as color so using flavors like milk or dark chocolate, coffee, ect were out. The cake itself was almond flavored and we had the option to make the butter cream plain or flavored. I chose to make it orange as it would pair well with the almond in the cake. The mousse topping flavor I chose was almond.
The recipe was quite lengthy but I managed to get it down to 5 pages. I won't post it here due to the length but will be more than happy to e-mail you a copy if you like. You could also check the other Daring Bakers as well to see if anyone posted it. And as a bonus you'll get to see all the other beautiful cakes that were made.
I started the cake the weekend before I intended to serve it. Most of the fillings and glazes could be made ahead and stored in the fridge which was a huge help seeing as this cake was a time consuming project.
Perhaps the part of the recipe that had me the most nervous was making the buttercream. I've heard so many people say they try and try and can never make a buttercream that actually turns out right and tastes good. So I read and re-read this part of the recipe several time to assure I knew what to do. A fellow DB also posted a video on how to make buttercream that was super helpful.
While the water and sugar heated to the proper temperature, I whisked an egg white and a whole egg until it was light and fluffy.
Once the sugar and water reached the proper temperature I slowly added it to the eggs while the mixer was on the slowest speed.
Here is an overhead shot of me adding the sugar mixture. You have to let it run down the sides of the bowl so there is less splattering as it blends into the eggs.
Once all the sugar mixture was added I raised the speed on the mixer to medium and beat it for about 5 minutes until the mixture looked satiny and the bowl was cooler to the touch. Then I added chunks of softened butter (1-3/4 cups) a little at a time until it was fully incorporated.
Then I turned the mixer on high and beat the butter cream until it was thick and shiny. I also added some orange flavoring at this part of the process.
And this is the finished product. At first the butter was the most prominent flavor and I was a little concerned that the orange flavor would be lost but after it mellowed out in the fridge a few days the flavors were much more balanced and the orange was certainly noticed.
I baked the cake itself the night before I planned to serve it. The house smelled so good, toasted almond and butter filled the air. Once the cake was cooled I carefully wrapped it in plastic wrap so it would be ready for assembly the next day.
I had a very full day planned so I got up early and started to get the last part of the cake prepared, the white chocolate mousse topping. One slight mishap with reading the recipe sent Jim to the store at the last minute to buy some more heavy cream but aside from that it all went together very easily. One thing I'd note is that I had almost twice as much buttercream, mousse and glaze than I actually needed. And while most of the other DB's sliced the sides off the cake to reveal the cake and its layers, I left mine as is to help keep in the moisture. I wouldn't be served until late that night and I didn't want it to be dry.
The other part of my day was taken up by a library program. A close friend and collegue, Ted, writes murder mysteries
set in libraries. He's written six so far and they are so much fun! We were premiering his latest that night, Mesa Verde Murder.
I played Kat L. Russler, a widowed ranch owner and mother to seven sons. The library hosting this program was less than 5 miles from my house so I decided to invite the cast and crew over afterwards to help unwind, have a bite to eat and have some opera cake.
Jim did such a great job helping put this all together. He made couscous paella with chicken and chorizo sausage that was very, very tasty (even as leftovers the next day). He also got everything set up while we were still at the library. We had sliced roast beef and rolls, fresh veggies, grapes, cheese and crackers, nuts, and olives. Plus a cooler full of wine, beer and soft drinks.
Once we all had our fill of the food, I brought out the cake. There were lots of ooh's and ah's especially after I sliced it. More nummy noises were heard while we all tried the cake. It was really, really good. I was so happy that it turned out well and that I rose to the challenge and no longer fear making buttercream.
Labels: buttercream, cake, Daring Bakers, mystery night