Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday, and in honor of that most auspicious of occasions, I baked a cake and brought it to work for my office birthday party on Thursday. I call it Blackout the Forest Cake because it's sort of like a cross between blackout cake and black forest cake. To make it, I adapted parts of Raspberry Blackout Cake with Ganache-y Frosting and Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondie Bars from Vegan With a Vengeance.

I started out making the Raspberry Blackout Cake, substituting cherry preserves for raspberry:

Instead of topping it with more cherry preserves, I made the raspberry layer from the Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondie Bars, substituting frozen cherries for raspberries:

All that was topped with ganache:

Then another cake and more cherries. When I moved the second cake from the cooling rack to the cake, it ripped about halfway down and I nearly shit my pants. Thankfully, all the toppings covered it up quite nicely and no one could tell:

Then, the whole thing was frosted with ganache and refrigerated along with the remaining topping to firm it up to a spreadable and pipeable consistency:

I also dipped some fresh cherries in the ganache for decoration. I kept the stems on because I thought they kind of looked like birthday candles, and because it made them easier to dip. To get a good layer of chocolate on them, I dipped them, refrigerated them, dipped them again and put them back in the fridge until it was time to use them:

I'm not so great at frosting cakes yet, so I wasn't able to completely hide the seam between the cakes when I poured on the ganache. I managed to cover the seam with the refrigerated ganache, but it didn't come out as smooth as I'd hoped. I guess I just need practice (the top isn't so smooth either, but that's to be expected with the cherry chunks on it).

The next thing I did was pipe chocolate circles onto the cake wherever I wanted to place the fresh cherries. I think of them as "Ganache-y Os":

Then I pressed the chocolate covered cherries into the ganache-y os:

I probably should have done the cake assembly and decoration on the base of my cake carrier, but I didn't because I'm not so smart. I also made the even less smart move of covering my carrier with parchment paper, so that when I piped around the base of the cake, I wouldn't be doing it directly onto the carrier. Moving the cake from the cutting board to the carrier was a nightmare. I really thought I was going to wreck the whole thing. The sides ripped significantly, but I was able to hide it with icing. Then I piped a border on the top and bottom of the cake:

Thanks to the stupid parchment, the cake slid around the carrier throughout my commute (bus, train and 20-minute walk) and I thought it would certainly be ruined by the time I got to work. As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, it didn't turn out too bad; the trim is just a little flat. Here's a shot of the inside:

The cake went over very well, with two people having seconds and one attempting to steal one of the pieces saved for absentees.

Since I'd never made a cake like this before, I did half a test cake last weekend by baking one cake, cutting it in half and layering the two halves instead of layering two cakes:

Here's a shot of the cherry and chocolate layers:

My family loved the testcake so much I knew it'd be good enough for my coworkers. Actually, my mother loved it a little too much: my father had to make her back away from the table and when no one was looking, she rushed the cake and took a second piece (part of a piece I was saving for a friend). She's been talking about the cake all week, so I'm in the process of turning it into cupcakes for Mother's Day (literally in the process; I'm typing this while the ganache is cooling in the fridge). If the cupcakes turn out half as well as the cake did, it will be a happy Mother's Day indeed.


Neta558 said...

Happy birthday!

The cake looks amazing. If this is how you decorate when you're new at this... wow.

Vegyogini said...

Happy belated birthday, fellow Taurus!