Monday, January 10, 2011
Guess Who's Old?
No, not me. After some consideration, Mr. ETB acknowledged that being eligible for the, "senior discount" at the grocer on Wednesday might make this aging thing worthwhile. I suspect we'll be planning our larger shopping excursions for mid-week from now on. Mind, he isn't collecting an old age pension or anything, but stores have started offering the, "Save 10 % because you're an old fart" discount well before the standard 65 when people used to retire before we all had to basically work until we drop. Wow, that got kind of off topic for a cheerful Birthday post. Anyway, I baked him a fancy cake because that seems like the sort of thing one's expected to do for a milestone birthday.
I baked the genoise, and made the buttercream from my cherished edition of La Cuisine. That's a special birthday cake-not some Betty Crocker shit from the 50's cookbook filled with baking powder and Crisco. No, this bugger involved warming eggs over a double boiler (I don't do double boilers) and then whipping them until they triple in volume. It involved beating sugar syrup into eggs for the frosting. I don't do cooked buttercreams, but I made an exception this time. If he's still alive at 100 (and I'm still around to bake it) I'll make a cooked buttercream again. Until then, we're back to beating confectioner's sugar into softened butter-OK?
Yes, the light is ass in here-I'm sorry. It snowed all day long, and will tomorrow as well. It is gloomy, gloomy, gloomy and soon we'll be looking at -9 degrees F. I'd be depressed about that except I have nowhere at all I need to be, and I have a rather fancy cake to nibble at. OK, inhale. I'm inhaling cake.
Seriously though, if you don't own Raymond Oliver's La Cuisine-buy it. I have no idea if it is still in print, but I occasionally stumble across them at used bookstores and library sales. Someday, you'll want to bake a hare in pastry (hey, you never know) or need a good recipe for lacquered duck (we had that last evening) or perhaps even a fancy cake. You don't want to trust expensive ingredients to idiots like me posting recipes on the Internet. No, for the really costly items, you need La Cuisine. Really, you do.
By the way, if you have some extra duck fat sitting around, a couple tablespoons to 1/3 cup popcorn will make the most mind-blowing snack you've ever tasted. I really didn't think it would work, but what do you know? Well, I'll tell you what I know-duck fat makes excellent popped corn. I can't wait to try that with rendered chicken fat (insert Jewish joke HERE________).
For The Genoise:
7 eggs (I used large)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups sifted AP flour
1/2 cup clarified butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour pans (I used 9 inch, though I think 8 would have been nicer).
In a bowl, break up the eggs with the sugar and place in a double boiler over simmering water (I used a bowl in a strainer over a larger pot). Whisk until eggs are warm to the touch. remover, and with an electric mixer, beat until tripled in volume and eggs ribbon when dropped from a spoon. Alternate adding the sifted flour and clarified butter in small amounts , folding gently with each addition. Be very gentle as it will collapse if you don't take care. Pour gently into pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until cakes spring back lightly when done. Cool on racks.
For the cake syrup:
(I came up with this one, but you'll want some sort of cake syrup as genoise tends to be kind of dry).
1 cup water
2 cups cinnamon sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee
Whisk until dissolved, then reduce to syrup. Cool. Use to brush cake layers before frosting.
For The Buttercream:
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 large egg yolks
1 cup softened butter (cut in pieces
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted with 3 tablespoons water
In a saucepan over low heat, dissolve the sugar in water. Brush down sides with a wet brush, then cover. Cook five minutes, then remove lid, cook to 238 degrees F.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs until light and thick. Add sugar syrup in a slow stream, beating constantly with a mixer. immediately after adding syrup, mix in the chocolate. When thick, begin beating in the butter, a small bit at a time. When thickened, spread on cake that has been primed with cake syrup.
Note-sometimes, the buttercream will hold better if chilled for 20 minutes and then re-beaten until light. It depends on what sort of frosting you like, but if it fails to firm up, try the fridge for a bit first.