July and Buttercream.. Two Bitter Lovers
|Chris from Mele Cotte was our hostess this month - and a lovely hostess at that! Chris chose Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream as our Daring Baker challenge for the month of July.|
I had mixed feelings.. I won't lie. Since my "lifestyle change" is still in effect, when I saw the cake included buttercream and chocolate, well I could feel my adrenaline start pumping and there seemed to be an instant bounce in my step.. CHOCOLATE. OHMYGOD HOW I MISS THEE SO MUCH.
On the other hand, as much as I love the buttercream, ugh.. I've had enough of it to last me a good long while AND the temps in NE Ohio are pretty high with the mugginess at about 593% - just a smidge uncomfortable in these parts. ;) I'm a lucky gal as we've got central air but I wondered if it'd be enough to keep my buttercream thick and workable.. Mmmm hmmm..
I present to you the answer to that question:
Allow me to fill ya'll in on the July Kitchen Disaster of 2008.
I was on vacation the week I decided to make the cake - it was the perfect time because we were going to a sleep over at 2 of my bestest friends' house and I knew I could unload the fat/calorie laden cake on them.. so I started on Monday and made the pistachio (Bless Chris' heart, she gave us lots of room to personalize this cake.. changing the nut being one of them) flour and pistachio praline. Both went off without a hitch.
I got back to the cake on Friday.. making the cake was, again, no problem.. my 2 layers puffed up nicely and were quite pretty in an green kind of way. hee! I decided to go with my go-to buttercream recipe from Jacques Torres because I'm confident in my ability to make that frosting without problems and wasn't really up to trying yet another buttercream recipe in the heat and humidity of my kitchen. Well, I guess it didn't matter what recipe I went with.. my house was just too warm and sticky even with the A/C BLASTING at Antarctic temperatures. I couldn't get this stuff to thicken up for the life of me. So I threw it in the freezer - and by that I mean, I literally threw the KA mixing bowl full of delicious buttercream soup into our chest freezer. :D
Saturday morning.. I OF COURSE get side tracked on DB stuff and email catch up duties.. so I've got about 2 hours to crank this cake out and make the 3 snackers I had planned on bringing. You know, I've been in this position more times than I can count.. actually every time. I am late for everything - the quintessential procrastinator extraordinare. Seriously. And it doesn't matter how many times I rush to finish something before the deadline - it doesn't matter that I'm a heaping sack of nerves, angst and perspiration as I bolt out the door to get where I'm suppose to be within an hour (or two) of when I was suppose to initially be there. It doesn't matter how I call myself names and then give myself the silent treatment for being such an ASSHOLE every single time. I conveniently forget all of that the next time I'm procrastinating about something.. GAH.
So this shouldn't come as a shock, but the very second I stepped foot in my kitchen that morning, the sky started to cloud over, I could smell the smoke from the firey depths of hell tickle my nostrils, I could sense pending disaster in the air.. yet I actually ignored it all and sliced my two layers into 4 layers. I added the praline to my barely thawed buttercream that barely thickened up after the deep freeze. I made a so-good-you-could-drink-with-a-straw soaking syrup of sugar, orange juice and Grand Marnier. I got out my brush, my offset spatula and my plastic lazy susan thingie that cake decorators use and I bravely began assembly.
First layer of cake and buttercream looked good! I had hope! Second layer.. not so much.. buttercream started to thin again.. but that's okay because my plan was to throw it in the fridge the very second I had all 4 layers together so it could set up while I started my antipasto salsa (mmm mmm good, btw!) and brie/strawberry jam filled phyllo cups (swoon).. third layer? Well.. the leaning Tower of Pisa came to mind.. and I started looking for my bamboo skewers.. fakk it, it won't take but a second to get that fourth and final layer on! Instructions said to soak the cut side of that final layer with the syrup and then flip it over so the even side was on top.. at least that's what I thought I read - to this day I'm not really sure if I was imagining that step or not.
Anyhoo.. soaked she be.. carefully flip her over on the top of the lean-to and then.. and then I'm holding a piece of the layer in each hand and the rest of it kinda just flooped onto the top of the cake.
It took a few seconds for me to get over the shock of the breakage. I mean, I know I shouldn't have been surprised - this is par for the course when I'm baking - but I was like.. "You've got to be fucking kidding me. WHY NOW?? DEAR GOD, WHY NOW???" And then I started laughing. Kinda like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit when he poured the last bucket of hot water into the tub, causing the tub to go crashing through the floor.. that kind of laugh where you are pretty damn sure you have just lost the very last semblance of your fucking mind and are also expecting Candid Camera personnel to pop out from behind the Frigidaire, pointing and laughing at you?
Only no one came popping out and apparently I had partial control of my mind because the panic started to set in.. I had less than an hour to finish all this AND get my butt into the shower so I didn't smell like buttercream and goat.
I simply turned my palms over and let the two pieces fall where they may.. I kinda nudged the part that flooped out on the cake over and like a puzzle, tried to put the pieces together. I probably would have had more success if I had chosen to move the pieces with the Vulcan Mind Meld technique than adding the heat from my hands to the buttercream.. but again, there wasn't much of my mind left at this point.
I finally cried UNCLE! And realized this cake wasn't going anywhere.. so the cake, complete with plastic lazy susan cake decorator thingie was thrown into the upright freezer in my kitchen. Course that would be after I opened it's door and half the contents came flying out at me - frozen blocks of tuna, bag of hard lil meatballs, 3 pound sack of sharp strawberry chunks, various ice cubes and I think there was a package of chicken sausage that came at me like a torpedo. So yeah, once I dodged all of that, the cake went in, I slammed the door and decided to stop thinking about it.. LALALALALALALALAALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU! YOU DON'T EXIST FUCKING SPLOOGEY MELTY BROKEN CAKE LALALALALALALALALAAAA
I didn't think about the cake the rest of the night and managed to at least accomplish the goal of getting completely hammered. I was suckin' down jello shots through a turkey injector, people! YEEE HAW!!! I have no recollection of saying good night to my fine hosts.. I have no recollection of finding the guest room.. getting into bed.. nothing. All I know is that I woke up the next morning and WANTED TO DIE. My hairs hurt. My clothes hurt. I hadn't been that hung over since way back in my drinking days say.. oh.. 10-15 years ago? Holy mother of a hairless Chin. I thought for sure I was going to meet my maker at any second.
So as you might imagine, the thought of that cake didn't enter my mind AT ALL on Sunday either. Monday night rolled around and I was still hung-over, I shit you not. But now I was hungry again and nothing was going to cure what ailed me other than chocolate and buttercream, so I took that frozen bitch out of the freezer and whipped up a delectable ganache. I sliced the uneven (to say the least) sides off and poured that sweet sweet nectar over the top.. I even salvaged a lil buttercream from the other freezer and made a pretty decoration...
Okay, horror stories aside, ultimately I'd like to make out with Chris for chosing such an amazing cake.. the taste was phenomenal. I'm not sure if it was the flavors I chose (pistachio, orange, chocolate and raspberry [the preserves I slathered all over it before pouring the ganache]) or if it was because I truly SOAKED the layers in that syrup.. but it was sooooo moist and the orange/choc/raspberry together was just over the top.
I did NOT take this cake in to share with the co-workers. NO. I. DID. NOT. I sliced her up and froze the slices :D Oh yes my friends.. Lissee will not share this cake with anyone, cellulite be damned. As of today, there are 8 slices left.. let's see if I can make it through the entire summer before depleting my supply. HAR!
Excellent challenge! Loved it! Will most likely NEVER make it again! At least not in the summer months.. hehee
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