Monday, April 12, 2021

cake, iced and served

The icing started life fairly solid.  It was more or less the same icing I'd used on my chocolate cake, and it had sat firm and unmoving for over a week.  For a Bundt cake, though, you need pourable icing that solidifies when it cools.  Not knowing what else to do, I put my icing into a double boiler to melt it... and it began to separate, releasing the water content of the butter that had gone into the icing.  Well, fuck.  I added some powdered sugar to sop up the extra water, then added some Nutella to thicken the icing, then resorted to a tiny amount of cornstarch slurry to make sure everything stayed emulsified.  The result was a chocolate sauce that still vaguely tasted like the original icing and had become, in the meantime, very runny.  I turned off the heat, poured the thin sauce into a plastic measuring cup, then let it cool for nearly fifteen minutes to give the sauce a chance to thicken up.  I then drizzled the sauce over the Bundt cake, and sure enough, most of the sauce ran to the bottom of the cake, pooling both inside the cake's central hole and around the outer circumference.  In the end, more icing was on the plate than on the cake, and while plenty of icing did stick to the cake, so much ran off that you could see the cake through the icing up on top.  I tried pouring a second layer of icing after allowing the remaining icing in the measuring cup to cool, but that icing, too, ran down the cake's sides.  Sigh...

Anyway, here are the final photos of the cake—after it got iced, and after it met its fate at the hands of my ravenous coworkers.  The interior, which I'd been curious to see, was a lot lighter in color than the completed rum cake's had been, which tells me that the rum cake's internal suntan was largely due to the rum-butter sauce.  The cake's outer suntan, though, was probably due to my not having gotten my baking time and temperature down pat.  It could also be that I should have followed my friend Charles's advice re:  baking pies:  I should have put down a layer of tin foil, reflective side down, to deflect some of the heat.  One reason why I didn't do this was that the Bundt pan was already sitting on a solid metal tray; I'd thought that that would be enough to keep the cake from overbaking.  I might've been wrong.

As you'll see in the cross-section photos below, the cake's interior was overcooked along the top edge (which had been the bottom edge during baking).  The result was a cake that was edible enough, but a bit too dry and crumbly for my taste—nothing like the gloriously moist chocolate cake I had made twice before.  That recipe was a real winner.  This cake rates an à peine mangeable (barely edible).

Here are the pics.

Completely iced with runny icing:

Kind of hilarious, how much icing is on the plate and not on the cake.

Next:  my two thin slices:

I had added yellow food coloring, but the cake's interior was still deathly pale.

You can blame my American coworker for the messy pile of utensils below:

See what I mean about the top (bottom) being overcooked?  Most of the cake is fine, I guess, but the top is rather dry.  The rest of the cake isn't as moist as my chocolate cake, either.

So this new cake experiment led to a somewhat comestible result.  I'm not sure I want to use this recipe again; it just wasn't moist enough for my taste.  (The use of buttermilk as an ingredient also proved to be an inconvenience; I'd had to make my own buttermilk.)  The next time I try baking a Bundt cake, I'll reduce the temperature, increase the baking time, and maybe use a sheet of tin foil as further shielding to prevent an overly browned, dry cake.  At least it wasn't rubbery this time.


Charles said...

Skip the buttermilk and just use yogurt, thinned with a bit of milk if necessary.

For the icing, a ganache should do fine. Take an equal weight heavy cream and dark chocolate (chopped up if you're not using chips), heat the cream to just before boiling, then pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Then just stir it up really good with a whisk and bam--ganache. I've heard people complain about ganache being difficult to make, but I've never had a problem with this method. No need to bother with double boilers or worry about separation or anything like that. And the great thing about it is that you can make it quickly when the cake is done and then let it cool to proper pouring consistency, still warm enough so that it flows, but not so warm that it ends up all running off. At room temperature it will be solid again and leave you with a nice chocolate coating.

Kevin Kim said...

I was thinking ganache-ward. Thanks for the advice. I also briefly contemplated using yogurt since I have some in my fridge. Ah, well. Live and learn.

John Mac said...

I admire your tenacity. I can't imagine putting forth the effort involved in constructing the cake and frosting from scratch. Out of my league for sure (in my league everything comes in a box or container).

Kevin Kim said...


It's an adventure, and I'm learning as I go. My oven's heat is harsh, so next time, I'll turn down the temperature and bake for a longer time. I think that ought to help.

Charles said...

Yeah, definitely give the ganache a shot. It's so ridiculously easy to make that you'll wonder why you haven't been doing it all along. And if you end up with leftovers, you can just shove it in the fridge for later, as it keeps well. Left to warm back up to room temp (or maybe over a very low double boiler), it can be spread on toast, poured on ice cream, whatever. I once actually just took a spoon and ate it straight out of the container. I don't know how long it will keep, but I've never had to worry about it sticking around for too long.