May 02, 2011

a wedding cake...and present

Sometimes I buy myself presents. Zach often jokes that my birthday begins in August and ends in October, because with a birthday in September, I buy myself gifts throughout all three months. I also buy myself presents as a reward for things, some big and some not so big. Finish Architecture school - buy myself a present; finish a work design deadline - off to Target to buy myself a treat (oh what I would do for a Target right now); Restrain myself for an entire week from going to FroYo World - time for a grande Frappuccino (I know, a funny exchange); Another happy day gone by in Zurich - present time! My most recent gift-to-moi was a big gift, but it was on sale and with all the baking I've been doing recently I neeeeded it! Well I might not need it, but I certainly wanted it! I mean after all is a kitchen really complete without a Kitchen Aid mixer?! In my first three months here in the land o' exorbitantly over priced appliances (and food, and cars, and taxis, and nail salon...etc) I didn't pass a Kitchen Aid mixer that was under $800. I had resigned to live mixer free and work on my arm muscles, until I spotted a mixer at Globus that was 60% off. I mean tell me you wouldn't have bought it too!
This new mixer came in wonderfully handy for my most recent baking project. Zach's office is like my grade school where we had to bring in cupcakes for the entire class when it was our birthday. Zach's colleagues bring in cakes/croissants/cookies for birthdays, but also for births and weddings, and I often joke for simply getting up in the morning. Rarely a day goes by that Zach isn't enjoying a his morning cappuccino with the accompaniment of some delicious baked treat. Here's the thing, before this blog I wasn't really a cook or a baker or anything in between. I love to cook, but I always cook for loved ones, who will love me even if the rice is overcooked and the meat a bit dry. When Zach asked me to bake a couple of cakes for his office, I accepted with excitement, but also a bit of nervousness. I mean let's remember that the Swiss are surrounded by delicious patisseries - there are the tarte tatins and croissants to the West, the cannolis and sfogliatelles to the South and the apfel strudels to the East.

It took me a fair amount of time to figure out what type of cake to bake. I wanted it to be in between a coffee cake and a sweet cake because it is generally eaten in the morning, before lunch. I settled on a light pound-cake with a raspberry and chocolate filling that I found in Sarabeth's Bakery (another present I bought myself recently!). Since I can be a bit neurotic and somewhat of a perfectionist I made a tester cake so that Zach and I could be sure the cake was worthy of being served at his office. All in all I made four cakes - 1 tester, 1 mistake cake - whoopsy daisy forgot an entire cup of sugar, and 2 office cakes! Four cakes means four batches of batter, four batches of batter that I didn't have to mix by hand!
This is the picture of the dough right before the raspberry and chocolate filling gets put in. I was in a bit of a rush after I messed up the first cake and pretty much forgot to take pictures of the process.

ingredients: Sarabeth's Bakery Ruby Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (I used 200g, which is a bit shy of 2 sticks I think)
- 2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat sour cream (I used the same amount of creme fraiche because it's what I could find in the store - I might even recommend this substitution)
- 1/3 cup raspberry jam
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I still can't find chips in Switzerland so I cut up bars of dark chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour the inside of your kugelhof pan. In a large bowl, separate from your mixers bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, place to the side. Place the butter in the mixer bowl and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute or until smooth. Slowly begin adding the sugar 1/4 cup at a time until fully integrated. Add the vanilla and beat until very light in color and texture, roughly 5 minutes. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and then gradually mix into the sugar-butter mixture. Reduce mixer speed and alternate between adding a 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 the creme fraiche, beating after each addition until smooth.

Transfer half of the batter to a large pastry bag (I used a ziploc bag and cut one of the corners). Pipe a thick layer of batter into the bottom of the pan. Then pipe one circle on the outside of the pan and then another on the inside of the pan (like above picture). Use the back of a spoon to create a smooth trough in the wet dough, really just a spot for the raspberry jam and chocolate to sit. Place the raspberry jam in a pastry or ziploc bag and pipe into the trough, being sure not to touch the edges of the pan, otherwise the jam will burn on the outside of the cake. Once the jam is in, follow with the chocolate. Place the remaining dough in the bag and pipe in on top of the filling, being sure that the filling does not touch the edges of the pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula and then to create some undulation in the filling, insert a chopstick into the dough and move it in spirals, being sure once again not to touch the bottom or sides of the pan with the chopstick.

Bake the cake for about an hour, or until your cake tester comes out clean and the top of the cake springs gently back when pressed with your finger. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert the pan and release the cake to continue cooling.
You might remember this cake from my royal wedding post where it is sitting to the left of the computer. By the time that photo was taken I had moved from the cake onto soup.
And this picture...well just a reminder that I am writing from Zurich and these are the types of scenes that frequently cross my path.

1 comment:

  1. Tal! Congrats on the kitchen aid- Santa brought me one this Christmas and I'm totally in love with it too. I made all my xmas macarons with it and beating the egg whites was such a breeze!

    keep baking, love you xoxo