fat free opinions on a food centric life

Daring Baker News Flash: Strawberry Mirror Cake Slides Down to Rave Reviews

Orange_silI’m on vacation, so will truly miss all of the traveling from blog to blog to see your lovely mirror cakes.  I’ll be back on Friday, so will look forward to reading your comments then.  Have fun!

When you’re a fairly fearless cook, and you love trying new things, it isn’t often that you cringe at the thought of beginning a recipe.  But you know the routine.  You read the recipe eighteen times over a period of a couple of days, then weeks depending on how strong your procrastination skills are.  Mine are in complete working order.  I’m a pro. 

This recipe had "tomorrow is another day" written all over it, and I’m not sure why.  It didn’t look especially difficult.  Yes, there were many, many steps, and no, I’d not made a mirror cake before, but……I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Perhaps it was the idea of something strawberry flavored.  Now, I love strawberries.  Love them.  But when I think of strawberry gelatin, I think of that overly sweet, not real strawberry flavoring that Kool-Aide and Jello, and Life-Savers candy are saturated with, and it tastes absolutely nothing like strawberries.  I guess that’s what it was.

But guess what?  This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was freaking fabulous.  Really!  True to form, I took this cake that I have never made before to a party.  Of course there were a few tense moments with  worrying at the last second whether it would fit in the only ice chest I had for the 30 minute drive.  And then nagging my husband not to go up or down any hills on the way.  Uh…we live on a seriously huge hill.  He just gave me the look.  But still.  After all that hard work, I wasn’t about to serve jello, yanno?  Okay, back to the party.  Guess what again? Everyone really liked it.  I had the hostess keep an ear out for honest reactions, too.  No, the party goers weren’t sloshed.  It wasn’t that kind of party. It was a party to celebrate some good friends’ newly adopted baby.  A very sweet baby boy.  I asked people to let me know what they really thought (because they know that I’ll end up writing about it) and it received great reviews.  Excellent!  There truly is a kitchen god.  I know this to be true at this point.

Strawberry Mirror Cake

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So what can I tell you I learned from the experience?

ONE:  The directions were a bit challenging to deal with.  When I make recipes that have a zillion steps like this one did, it seems not to matter how much I’ve read and thought about it.  What ends up happening is how the recipe is actually printed.  I found myself flipping back and forth through the five pages and WISH I would have separated the steps even more than they were.  It does challenge me to do this.  So — next time — and there probably will be because this was a seriously beautiful cake that is a show-stopper — I’ll take more time to format the recipe after I’ve cut and pasted it.

TWO:  I struggled a bit with the prep work on this one.  Since there were strawberries just about everywhere, I didn’t do a great job of measuring and cutting and chopping ahead of time.  I did make the cake the night before, baking it on silicone mats that I lightly oiled for good measure.  I cooled the sponge completely, then measured and cut the rounds before sealing each in a ziploc bag and putting them in the fridge for the night.

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THREE:  I used 99 Bananas, a banana liqueur for the soaking liquid AND the mirror.  It smelled and tasted lovely.  I was very careful not to put too much of the soaking liquid on the sponge layers, as I don’t usually prefer boozy cake. 


FOUR:
  My FAVORITE part of this cake was the strawberry juice.  I now know what REAL strawberry juice is supposed to taste like and oh my goodness is it wonderful.  Completely a refreshing flavor.  I can see so many possibilites for this now, especially with the addition of the gelatin which was very cool.  I’m already wondering about other fruit possibilities.  Apricot, peach, grape….Ooooooooh Baby!

FIVE:  The most difficult part of the cooking for me with this cake was the timing.  It all came together, but I was really hopping.  The bavarian creme really began to jell, and I stirred and stirred, but it got ahead of me.  I had to pull a few large pieces (1/2 in.) of gelatin from the luscious creme.  I used my big mixer on uber slow speed to incorporate the strawberry creme with the whipped cream.  Thankfully, it all came out fine.  I was very worried that it would be too thick to pour over the sponge layers, but everything went just fine.  If I wanted to be very picky, the sides could have looked better.  This cake was almost completely set by the time I poured the mirror on top.

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SIX:  I sliced strawberries to lay under the mirror.  It was a nice touch.  I made sure the sides of the pan were lightly oiled as per the directions, and then ran a paring knife along the sides before the mirror was poured, and before I released the tension on the pan.  Totally spectacular.  AND Tasty.  The entire finger freaking licking cake.  Great choice Peabody.  Seriously!

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SEVEN:  At a party, do your own cutting.  The photos are okay, but I would have gone nuts with the photos on this cake had I been at home.  See what I’ve become?  So thanks for ignoring the bit of creme mussing up the mirror. 
Retrospectively, I must be into red food, because I tried the Red Velvet cake before I was officially a Daring Baker, and it turned out great.  So did this one.  Okay, so I know it wasn’t an especially difficult recipe technique wise, but the steps were a tad crazy.

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So who’s ever up next as host….Choose something red.  I’m on a roll here.

Img_2814  I"ll have to rethink the foil next time for my photo shoot.  Bwah-hahahhahaha!