Sunday, July 18, 2010

Almond Sponge Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream

So this is the last entry regarding my girl's dinner last weekend. I came across this recipe in a Culinary Institute of America Cake Books and it completely appealed to me. I thought this would be a great cake to try and I was going to make it at some point during the weekend anyway, so why not make it for the dinner.

I ran into several problems with this cake, but in the end it still tasted good. The presentation was definitely not what I wanted it to be. I feel like I should be able to make things that look better than that. I need to figure out where I went wrong on the buttercream, since it was just way too soft and that will help me out significantly in the future.

I baked the cake in a quarter sheet pan for the suggested amount of time. After cooling on a rack, I realized that it was far from being cooked through. So I returned the cake to the pan and the pan to the oven. I ended up rebaking the cake for even longer than the original time suggested. The recipe called for 15 minutes, but I think I baked it for a total of 35 between the two tries. I thought the cake would be a lost cause by this point, but I figured I may as well keep going.

Then on to the buttercream frosting. I beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and made the soft-ball stage sugar syrup and everything looked like I expected it to. When I added the syrup, I could not get the frosting to reach stiff peaks again, it was very shiny, but much more runny than I had expected. I let the mixture whip a while longer in am attempt to bring back the peaks, but when I realized that it wasn't going to happen, I moved on to adding the room temperature butter and the Nutella. I think this is where the next problem occurred... I think my house is warmer than the suggested room temperature because my butter was like mush. It was probably supposed to be soft, but not gooey. The final frosting tasted really good (of course it did, it was full of butter and sugar and Nutella!!!), but was much runnier than I had hoped. I put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes, but couldn't wait any longer because people were going to start showing up before long.

I cut the cake in half and put one piece on the platter, covering it with the buttercream. I add the second piece and frosted the entire cake. The buttercream was still softer than I would have liked, but it was starting to firm up a little bit. The entire thing went to the fridge in hopes it would set up further by the time dessert rolled around.

When I took it from the fridge, the buttercream looked a lot more like it should, though I had to fix the sides since it had slid down a little bit. After dusting with cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar, I took a picture and took it to the table. I was a little annoyed that it didn't look as pretty as I thought it should. I want my cakes to look closer to professional than something someone just threw together without caring what it looked like. Hopefully if I refrigerate the buttercream longer it will spread better and not just fall right off the sides of the cake.

Even though the cake didn't look the greatest, it did taste good. So I guess all the troubles I ran into during the day were appropriately resolved. I will just need to retry making buttercream in hopes of getting a better consistency in the future.

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