Friday, July 08, 2011

Gateau d' Helene



This is a cake that needs to be made a day ahead-sort of like a high-class fridge cake, except you actually have to bake a cake rather than using biscuits. A very dry cake, but still cake nonetheless.

The recipe comes from Simca's Cuisine. I did not cut mine into three layers, nor did I use the ungodly amount of brandy the recipe called for. I also substituted lime for orange. I otherwise followed the recipe. Mine sank in the middle. I filled and frosted it anyway. Coconut cake is really forgiving that way, and whipped cream fills dents rather well.

I was pleased that this recipe let me use the dried-out bag of coconut in the back of my fridge, the last of the whipping cream approaching the use-by date, and exactly enough cake flour left in a bag I'd long forgotten. Don't you love when recipes end up needing exactly what you have? I hate having a handful of flour left in a bag, or not-enough of something to use, but too much to combine in a new package. I also hoover the entire house on a daily basis because I like the way the carpet looks when all the lines are going in the same direction...but let's keep that a secret, lest people think I'm some kind of weirdo. I really do hoover the house every day for 30 minutes, but it is more to deal with allergies and dust from living on a farm...and because it looks so nice and orderly when all the lines in the carpet are...yeah, OK so the cake. Who wants cake?

The day before making the cake, spread out 2-3 cups coconut to dry on a tray. As mine was already pretty dried out from being shoved half open in the back of the fridge, I went ahead and skipped this step. The recipe called for "canned" coconut. In my part of the world, that sort of thing disappeared around 1975, but if you can find it, go ahead and use it, just don't forget to set your, "Way Back Machine" to the present as you don't want the cake overbaking when the timer goes off and you and Sherman are in the Galapagos stuffing finches with Darwin (I mean "stuffing" in the taxidermy sense. God, you people are sick).

For the cake:

Butter and flour an 8 inch cake pan. Place a round of parchment in the bottom. Grease and flour that as well.

12 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 orange (or 2 limes)
3 large eggs
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light. Grate the peel of the orange, and juice the orange. Add the peel to the butter and sugar and reserve 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Beat the eggs in 1 at a time. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add and beat until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated 375 degree f. oven for 35-40 minutes (mine took 30). Cool on rack in pan 20 minutes, then unmould and cool completely.

Apricot/Coconut Filling:

1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups coconut from day before.

Mic orange juice and rum. Slice cake into 3 layers (I did 2) and prick each layer in several places with a fork. Sprinkle each layer with 1/3 of the juice/rum mixture. Then, spread each layer with some apricot jam leaving some reserved for the top. I suggest using about half the rum and drinking the rest yourself. Let your tastes (or desire for alcohol early in the morning as you assemble cakes) be your guide.

Whip the cream over ice and add the vanilla. When almost stiff, beat in the sugar and whip until stiff. Place 4 tablespoons of whipped cream in another bowl and stir in 5 tablespoons of the coconut to make a thick mixture. Build the cake spreading the coconut cream on the frost and second layers. Cover the top layer with remaining jam. Then, neatly coat the top and sides with remaining whipped cream, making a dome on top. Sprinkle entire cake with remaining coconut. Chill cake until ready to serve. best made a day a head.

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