Monday, July 30, 2007

Daring Bakers July Challenge - Strawberry Mirror Cake

And the Daring Bakers are off again! This month the challenge was decided on by the demiurgic Peabody from Culinary Concoctions. She chose to have us all make a Strawberry Mirror Cake and, after reading about the wonderful cakes my fellow DBs made, I was very tempted to not post my final result.

The recipe was long and technical. If broken down into manageable components, this was an easy hurdle to overcome. After planning and buying all the necessary ingredients, I got to work. I was not too worried about the cake but, the cream and mirror held some additional challenges as they contained gelatin, a product I don't use. After finding agar agar, I had to hope it would work just as well as its animal counterpart. I was tempted to use some sort of Jello product but as you can see, I didn't! Sticking to a recipe is one thing I do very well.

After making the cakes, which were thin-ish I tackled the cream, stirring in the agar agar to measure the same as gelatin. I should have dissolved it completely in hot boiling water as there were some hard bits in the final cream. When I layered it in the pan with the cake I was hoping it would keep its shape, which it did. Yeah!

Now I don't know if I should have waited longer before pouring on the mirror but when I did, the smooth strawberry liquid disturbed the cream creating swirls. I was stumped and couldn't take it off so I kept pouring hoping for the best. After refrigerating it, I had a pink-topped cake with a mirror which had mysteriously sunk to the bottom of the cake. I tasted it and it had a gel-like consistency so the agar agar worked, though, unfortunately the mirror was on the wrong end.

Looking back at my experience, I would now modify the cakes to be baked in two round pans as opposed to one large pan with the cake circles being cut out. The rest would stay the same. I was initially hesitant to try it at all because of the ingredients but I'm glad I did. The challenge made me go out and look for ingredients I normally wouldn't have in my cupboard. Making gelatin-based desserts is new territory for me so I'll have to keep plugging away until I can master it.

Overall, I'm not sure if I can appreciate the flavour of the cake. Those who tried it said it tasted good and reminded them of trifle. I'm hesitant to give my version a two thumbs up as I'm sure I could do it better next time. I was also a little bummed about the mirror and the hard flakes - two things which greatly coloured how I saw this particular cake.

Thanks to Peabody for your bold choice! A big thank you goes out to all the Daring Bakers whose support and encouragement cushion the blow of disaster. Please visit Peabody's site for the full recipe and to see what all the other brilliant Daring Bakers created, click here. Looking forward to next month!

24 comments:

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

I also think that the cake would be better if baked in two round pans. I had lot's of leftovers after cutting out the circles and they were a bit thinnish.

I'm sorry to hear about the mirror, but I'm glad that you posted!!!

Sara said...

Wow, how strange about your mirror. But as long as it tastes good...

Deborah said...

I'm sorry your mirror didn't work - but it's all about learning!! I hope you still enjoyed it.

breadchick said...

Sorry the mirror didn't work but great Daring Baker spirit on completing and posting about your cake!

Cheryl said...

So you should just name is "Upside down mirror cake". You still did a great job!

Laura said...

I'm with Cheryl and the upside-down mirror cake, but I hope the cake was worth the effort!

Anh said...

You are doing a great job! I love it... And you know, there's always the next time to try! :D

Andrea said...

Way to give it a go! True Daring Bakers spirit!

Ivonne said...

Live and learn, Jen! I think you did a great job ... hope you're enjoying your summer!

Quellia said...

Now thats putting your personal touch on the challenge! Good work!

Anita said...

Do you think the mirror ran over the sides and pooled at the bottom of the pan? Either way, it still looks tasty!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Thinish . . . yes, I think I'd have to think mine were thinish also.
I think you've done an absolutely outstanding job here!
Wack that puppy up the side of the head,
Bam put that mirror on the bottom
and
Zap! You are a Daring Baker!
You've come to the right party Jen.
I sort of think after a challenge like this one, we're a little invincible for the next one! Don't you think so. I'm sure I'll be able to read better in August.

Lis said...

I'm so glad you decided to post. Your cake looks so creamy good! Weird about the mirror.. but maybe you've invented a whole new pastry delight! :D

xoxo

Patricia Scarpin said...

Jen, I'm sorry about the mirror, but I still think the cake looks beautiful!dh

Belinda said...

I think it looks beautiful, and I love the way the petunias in the background echo the pink of the Bavarian cream and the red of the strawberries in the cake...very clever. :-)

Tartelette said...

Bril also had issue with the agar and her mirror sank in too....I wonder what chemical reactions would cause that, the acidity maybe? Dunno...
I am glad you posted Jen, you have created the first Strawberry Mirror Tatin!

veron said...

very interesting about the mirror sinking to the bottom, I need to try this experiment. I agree with everyone here, your cake looks creamilicious!

steph said...

i was kind of bummed out about the texture of the agar-agar, too. i used powdered, so i didn't have hard flakes, but i definitely had unpleasant pastiness. would like to know how to do it better...

Elle said...

In trud Daring Baker spirit you experimented with the agar-agar and created a new version of the recipe...one that looks delicious, too. Great job!

Peabody said...

Sorry the mirror was a no go. Great job on the cake and good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone.

Culinarily Curious said...

I'm also sorry the mirror didn't work, but I think your upside-down mirror cake is still a thing of beauty. Thanks for sharing your experience!

jade said...

you have to boil agar-agar with liquid to make it set.
If you just dissolve in cold liquid like gelatine, it won't work.

Canadian Baker said...

Thanks everyone for your encouraging comments - they were much appreciated!

Jade - Thanks for the tip. I did successfully dissolve the agar agar in boiling water for the mirror but it still didn't work. I guess I need to work with agar agar more in my baking to master it.

Kristina said...

Very interesting to read the different bakers' experiences! The two pans idea sounds smart and time saving. Hope you are enjoying the end of summer--that plum cake you posted above is one of my favourites! I have a recipe where the fruit is placed at the bottom and then the cake is flipped over--the brown sugar/ crumb topping having hopefully caramelized over the fruit!
Keep up the great baking!