Daring Bakers II - This Time, It's Personal

As a member of the Daring Bakers, this time of the month comes around all too fast. There are some members who, consummate professional bakers to the last, spend the month perfecting the allocated recipe. The finished article looks (and no doubt tastes) stunning.

I am not like this. I started my cake on Thursday Night and, not realising that I would spend most of Saturday incapacitated by a mini-migraine, am now left with a partially finished cake in the refrigerator.

Not to worry. Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas, who chose this month’s recipe (a Martha Stewart recipe no less), was canny and selected a cake that can be made over several days. And thank goodness for this.

Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake is not a cake to be taken lightly. I have wanted to make a crepe cake since I read about one in an old issue of Saveur magazine. I lusted after the wafer thin layers, sandwiched together with a delicate cream. Brilynns recipe takes that delicate cake to the next plateau. Imagine this: over 30 pancakes made with melted chocolate, heightened with a Nutella cream that contains no less than one and a half UK size packs of butter. And if that wasn’t overindulgence enough, the whole cake is then drenched in a dark chocolate glaze to give it Maybelline Lipgloss mirror shine. Finally, we are expected to exert our sugar art skills by decorating this black beauty with hazelnuts dipped in molten sugar, a 3 inch fragile spear of bronzed caramel extended upwards from the nut.

As I said, Brilynn is not one to do things by half.

Actually, the cake is fairly simple if you follow it step by step and over the course of several days as I have:

Thursday Morning: Make Pancake Batter. Leave to chill until the evening.

Thursday Night: Get Paul to make pancakes. Don’t get me wrong. I tried, I really did. My pancakes just ended up looking like something Ed Gein might have made a lampshade with instead of a delicate, lacy pancake. Not appetising. Paul is a champion pancake maker, even though he is more used to making thick, fluffy buttermilk ones. Fortunately for him, when he moved to the UK, I rapidly introduced him to the frail English pancake (or crepe as it is known everywhere else) so he is well skilled in both types. Can you imagine making about 35 pancakes? It’s really boring. At this point you hope that it’s all worth it.

Friday Night: Make internal icing and layer up cake. The icing is really good although I added extra Nutella (Nutella is now officially a cool and bona fide ingredient and not just something to spread on bread. I have seen it utilised in so many delicious recipes on food blogs in the last few months that it’s just a matter of time before restaurants start serving it too). Realise that a) you forgot to stir the whipped cream into the icing and it still sits in the fridge, looking palely up at you and b) that you don’t have enough cream left to make the external icing. Several expletives escape.

Saturday Morning: Am prepared to glaze the cake at my mums as it is her birthday and this was to be her birthday cake. We go out to eat (see tomorrows post), buy some double cream for the icing on the way. Get back to my mums and realise we have forgotten cake. Also realise that I have the start of a severe migraine probably brought on by the rapeseed pollen and/or heatstroke. I am a delicate flower and wilt with great rapidity in the sun. I also wilt in the cold. I have a strange internal thermostat.

Saturday Afternoon: Get home and go straight to bed. Awaken at 8pm to watch Grease is the Word. Headache gets much worse. Go straight back to sleep. Not even David Gest’s charming eyebrow gesticulations can help me tonight.

Sunday Morning: Awaken to happily find the headache is much better. I am particularly cross when I get a bad headache that is not alcohol induced, if for no other reason than suffering for one’s own gluttony makes it seem that much more debauched.

Fuzzy head aside, I am now prepared to make the glaze for the cake. I am currently typing this in bed, listening to the Arctic Monkeys (literally the only band of today’s current flock of new-new-new wavers that I will give a moment to), waiting for Paul to finish preparing the dogs food. We feed them turkey legs and it smells absolutely repugnant as it is boiled up. Like a pathologist, I have spread a highly perfumed cream under and around my nostrils to get rid of the stench.

Whilst I await the kitchen, let me just make mention of the other girls who have probably been far more organised than I and where you can see how they got on with the same recipe (and also a formal welcome to all the new members, all who have been given a real baptism of fire with this introductory cake!), in blog alphabetical order:

Jenny, Mary, Dolores, Becke, Ivonne, Peabody, Mercedes, Anita, Laura, Pat, Morven, Claudia, Hester, Gilly, Sara, Brilynn, Lisa, Ilva, Tanna, Marce, Devra, Helene, Patricia, Jen, Mary 2, Valentina, Veron, Sher and last but by certainly no means least, Meeta!

So, several hours later, the boiled turkey smell has left the building, the cake is iced and, most miraculous of all, I have even made the candied hazelnuts which look completely beautiful.
This cake is not easy to ice despite using a large circular cutter to get the pancakes all the same size. During the setting process, the pancakes refuse to lie flat and it ends up as sort of 'S' shape, as Paul put it. I actually did a layer of icing, patching in some of the gaps, chilled it and then did a final coat using a wet palate knife to smooth it all of (a trick I learnt from Ina Garten). Still, the icing does cover a multitude of sins and we were thrilled at the final result. The multi-strata of dark chocolate pancakes and pale nutella cream are stunning. Of course, I have a feeling that the caramelised hazelnuts can really make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
But how does it taste, you ask? Well, it's kind of OK. It reminded me very much of a Sara Lee Gateaux which is to say, kids and men will probably love it. But it didn't have the rich, sophisticated taste I was dreaming of. I suppose you could call this the Hollywood Heiress Cake - looks good but has very little substance.
To conclude, I think that Brilynn chose a great cake for all of us. I think that all of us Daring Bakers were tested in one way or another and some of us might have learned some new skills. I would love to experiment with the cake, using a lighter, lemon or raspberry custard/mousse filling. I felt quite proud of the hazelnuts and will no doubt knock up a batch of them, if only to decorate a tub of Ben and Jerrys...

58 comments:

Helene said...

Look at this! This is I think I absolutely gorgeous! Great work! That slice is gigantic...an't stop licking my lips!

T.W. Barritt said...

Well, despite the agony of it all, that's a stunning creation. And, you are dead on about Nutella -- I'm already seeing it on many dessert menus. I saw a gallon container at the Chelsea Market recently -- the right size for a true addict!

Kirsten said...

WOW, this kind of baking ambition is VERY impressive! Beautiful - and sooooo yummy looking. :)

eliza said...

very nice! now...who would eat all the cake? ;)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Not often a cake looks better on the inside than the outside. It is a jaw dropper!
Yours is stunning!!

Callipygia said...

The hazelnuts are literally dangerous and stunning. Too bad about the taste- it really is something when the whole things works, the looks, the taste, the ease... Well done.

Kelly-Jane said...

It looks stunning! Once I saw the inside I recognised the cake as one form the cover of a Martha book. It's a great choice of cake for everyone to try. I really love the caramel hazelnuts, they are so chic! I'm sorry to hear the taste wasn't as stunning as the look, but sometimes it's just like that isn't it?

I get migranes as well (absolutely horrible atm, sunshine like you) hope you are feeling better.

I have been looking forward to reading this months entry (having been introduced to the event last month) and I have only just realised that it is Daring Bakers not Darling! You've got to laugh, although the illustration makes a lot more sense now LOL.

Joyce said...

Devilishly daring endeavor.
Hat's off to you, once again. Not only do you tackle the terrifying, but you do it with verbal grace.

Love those hazelnuts!

Marce said...

wow, you got tons of layers and you didn´t have to bother making those god-awful crepes. I´ve just made a decision: I need to find myself a husband who makes crepes!

Elle said...

Great post and beautiful cake. I love the bit where you got to your Mom's and had left the cake at home. Hopefully she understood, especially with the migraine.
Your hazelnuts are perfect and the cake looks very good. I agree that it should taste better for all that work, but the guys did like mine. Have to try the hazelnuts on Ben & Jerry's. That could be next month's challenge?

Laura said...

A towering achievement! (terrible pun I know!)

breadchick said...

Yonkers! Look at that lovely cake. I agree about Nutella. I've only been spreading on bread and crackers but I'm going to start cooking with it too! Great post.

Katie said...

With all that effort I would want the result to be better than ho-hum; at the very least a D.O. (digestive orgasm)
Looks pretty, though!

Susan said...

Hat's off to you, Freya - and with a migraine no less! I've read some of the other posts on this, and the general consensus, however visually stunning this gateau, is justifiably peevish. I'd feel the same way had I baked it myself.

Claudia said...

Well your cake is a stunner and I feel for you... I get migraines too and they are completely debilitating. Have one today and am fighting through a mountain of work... but the headache is winning. Congratulations of finishing yours, and beautifully too!

tigerfish said...

This crepe cake is to die for! I'm dying for it!!!!

Ulrike said...

Sixty millions of calories! I never thought of the idea to bake a crepe cake. Only Petterson does it 5 times a year for Findus' birthday. If you don't know the story, Findus is a tom cat.
Congratulations, I don't have what it takes to be a daring baker ;-).

Little Foodie said...

My word you've excelled yourself again. The cake and the writing - beautifully done. Will buy some nutella tomorrow and eat the lot with the children in one go (3 teaspoons). Nobody has to know! Hope your head is feeling better.

Lucy said...

'Hollywood Heiress Cake'.

An hilarious and seemingly much more appropriate name! Breaks my heart when I've gone to such lengths and a cake tastes, well, blah. But it looks great.

You should be justly proud of those beautifully presented hazelnuts - personally I'm terrified of molten sugar.

Ivonne said...

Well done, Freya! I enjoyed your account of your experience making this cake and I think the finished product is gorgeous!

Sher said...

Your cake is perfect! And, as always--you write a fabulous post. :):)

Peabody said...

You did a fabulous job on this!
Excellent job on the nuts.

valentina said...

It looks stunning!! Wish I could have a bite.

Mary said...

I wish I had my own personal crepe chef! You really did an amazing job on the cake. :)

Lis said...

Now that's a slice of cake! heee!

I'm sorry to hear you weren't feeling well, but am glad your migraines finally went away so that you could finish the cake.. and finish it you did! Absolutely gorgeous you two! Way to go =))

xoxo

Passionate Eater said...

OH MY GOSH! LOOK AT THOSE LAYERS! I feel dizzy just looking at that gorgeous cake! Counting the layers is like counting the infinite stars in the sky! What an astonishing masterpiece!

Mercedes said...

great work!

Brilynn said...

You are my hero! That cake is SO high, I'm very impressed.

Truffle said...

Oh what a triumph! Brilliant photos and congratulations on producing such a masterpiece.

Sara said...

Nutella is truly heaven on earth. Your sides came out very well, I'm jealous!

Kate said...

i want that on my dining table now !!! that is by far the most sinful thing i have seen on this planet...and now i have to have some.I know i will never get myself to make that ( all those calories) so please just cut me one slice from yours !

Pille said...

Looks amazing - that height is pretty impressive!
And if that makes you feel any better, then I don't do thin, crepe-like pancakes either, my boyfriend does. I can make small, thick dropcakes though:)

Ilva said...

Your cake looks so stable and solid and beautiful, not like my wobbly one!

Margaret said...

That is a mighty impressive cake you have made.

Jeanne said...

OMG!! Now that's what I call impressive. Daring does not begin to describe you... Also very reassuring to hear that other people also open the fridge halfway through making a dish to discover that an ingredient is still sadly loitering forgotten in the fridge. All this time I thought it was just me... ;-) And can we please have a photo-essay on how you made those lethal-looking nuts??

Meeta said...

WOW! WOW! Incredible! Would you say it was worth it? Just looking at the picture I'd think it was but reading your post I'd say Martha sucks LOL! But hey girl you came through with this challenge wonderfully!

Quellia said...

Hmmm a lemon filling! If I were to ever make this cake again (highly unlikely) I think I would try lemon! Great work overcoming the headache and other little delays to make a great looking cake!

gilly said...

Beautiful work! The height on your cake is so impressive, and the decorations look textbook perfect! I love the comment about decorating some Ben & Jerry's - LOL.

I'm so sorry to hear that you had a migraine...

Glenna said...

Nicely done for all of the obstacles in your way!

Claude-Olivier said...

Woaw, it looks really nice and good...and what about all the work to make all these slices... great job !!!

Cheers
Claude

mooncrazy said...

This looks wonderful but is it easy to cut? Because it's so tall I'm sure thin slices are in order. Sorry about the head, maybe the smell brought on the migraine.

veron said...

You were really smart to spread the process over a couple of days. I did it all in one day and was ready to scream by the end of it. Fantastic towering crepe!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Oh my goodness...that is a gorgeous cake! I love that you got Paul to make the pancakes...that is what happens in our house too, as I am hopeless at them.

Patricia Scarpin said...

OMG, Freya!! I want my hazelnuts to look fantastic as yours do!

The cake is beautiful as a whole, sweetie.

Kathryn said...

Daring isnt the word! This is simply amazing. I am in complete awe. Wow!!!!

Cheryl said...

I'm so sorry of all the trouble you had. I hope your head is feeling better.

Your cake is gorgeous and the hazelnuts are so impressive.

Toni said...

My hat's off to you Daring Bakers. I don't bake. And soldiering on after a bout with a migraine? You are amazing!

I'm surprised that it didn't really taste that good. The ingredients make me drool!

Linda said...

holy cow that's a lot of layers. congrats - this is a masterpiece.

vonsachsen said...

Oh, WOW! This looks truely amazing! I just keep wondering how you were able to cut this perfect slices? And the candied hazelnuts look soooo professional!
Usually I´m not too much into making crepes either but then I found a perfect recipe in March Delicious (Aus) and with that even the first pancake turnes out perfect!
Btw, sorry to hear about your migraine, I know how it feels. Or used to know. I got rid of it seven years ago with homeopathy.

Lydia said...

Truly beautiful! But I know I couldn't stick with a cake that you make over several days. I love reading everyone's posts about the adventures of the Daring Bakers!

valentinA said...

Geez, truly I tell you Freya,
I don't know what to say.. It's just beautiful!!! & I find it hard to believe it didn't taste good. Daring Bakers rock!

wheresmymind said...

That is one serious slice of cake...not for amatures!

Kristen said...

Amazing...migraine and all. I am so impressed!

Chris said...

Your determination turned into a beautiful cake - well done! :)

Gemma said...

WOW! That looks incredible. I am enjoying these daring bakers posts, what could possibly be next to follow up this towering concoction?

Gemma x

annauk said...

Absolutely amazing!!
I am literally sitting here open-mouthed in awe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:-)

joey said...

Fantastic! That does look like quite a fancy cake :) Your (you and the other Daring Bakers) posts this month are hilarious!

Melting Wok said...

my godddd..I suspected this might wet my keyboard, oh yes, it did, thanks, freya :)