Cakes from the Days Past
Post #1 – Chocolate Strawberry Harvest Cake







I am humbled and inspired by all your most generous words of appreciation, especially for the cake. Although I am a serial weekend baker, we plan on a well-decorated cake only when we are having a special gathering or celebration, so that we could all share the sugar and fat between each other, and feel less guilty about the slice we gulp in.. So as we wait in joyful hope for the next gastronomical event, I am posting couple of cakes I did in the last one year. Here is post #1. This one was made in last year’s summer, topped with fresh strawberries we picked from a farm in scenic Sauvie Island near Portland. Freshly picked strawberries, as you know, look and taste rich. It is crisp, glossy and vibrant, bursting with color. It looks fabulously surreal, and you might even never want to touch, slice or eat it. Well, if I happen to use it on cakes, these are my favorite combinations.

1) Make a white or angel food cake, layer with whipped cream and berries

2) Go yellow- Make a yellowcake, layer with lemon curd and of course berries.

3) Nothing works better visually together, than chocolate and strawberries. The contrast is amazing. Red and green just flare up from mysterious shades of chocolate. Since we really want to accentuate the freshness of berries, I would rather go with a mild to medium flavor strength chocolate cake recipe. A mild German chocolate or a chiffon cake will be ideal. We will save the Devils food and Death by chocolate recipes for some other time. Instead of using a calorie loaded chocolate butter cream, I would go light in summertime with a smooth, creamy and airy chocolate mousse for filling the cake.

This chocolate cake has three fine layers and was filled and frosted with chocolate mousse. I wasn’t quite yearning to use a pastry bag that day, so the side panels were made by marbling dark and white chocolates. Strawberries are dipped, without any particular reason. The following recipe makes a cake with a very delectable chocolate flavor, with a delicate under taste of molasses coming from brown sugar.


CHOCOLATE CAKE

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup lukewarm water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Beat in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Divide batter among prepared pans (about 2 1/3 cups for each). Smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 22-30 minutes. Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. Invert cakes onto 9-inch-diameter cardboard rounds or tart pan bottoms. Peel off parchment.

Adapted from: Chocolate cake recipe, Bon Appétit , April 2003


CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

2 cups chilled heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
Garnish: lightly sweetened whipped cream

Heat 3/4 cup cream in a 1-quart heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F on thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a glass bowl in a microwave at 50 percent power 3 to 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, and then cool.
Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten, and then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly.
Chill the mousse covered, for at least 6 hours. Mousse can be chilled up to 1 day.

Source: Gourmet, December 2002.
Click here to read instructions for making chocolate cutouts.
My method for making panels is more or less the same, except that instead of using a cookie cutter, i used a ruler and a super sharp knife to score off, and then to cut panels of desired length and width.

36 comments:

Gini said...

That looks totally out of this world! Not a chocolate fan, but I would totally dig into that cake. What creativity!

RP said...

Wow!! I am speechless!!!
If possible, pls take pictures of the sliced cake too. It would be great if we could take a peek inside the beautiful cakes.

archana said...

Thank you so much Gini, and RP. I may not have a pic of the slice, but i think i have one taken while i was working on it, which shows off some of the Mousse. What about it?

Santhi said...

WOWWWWWWWW...
What can I say... I am speechless archana.
Can you please tell me where can I buy the "chocolate wall" that you have around the cake??

And pics while u were working on the cake would be a wonderful addition to this post.

Lera said...

Gorgeous looking cake !

archana said...

Thank you for the comments Santhi & Lera. I handmade the chcolate panels. It is fairly easy once you properly temper the chcolate. I marbled dark and white chocolates. I will write down the procedure of making it very soon ( Let me see if have any photos). But for the time being be assured about one thing , this is very very very easy,practically there is no end to the number of chocolate shapes and cutouts you can make...
Archana

Anonymous said...

Archana,
Are you applying some of ammachi's tricks too? I know that she used to make marble cakes
Oh i miss that Ann's marble cakes
I am sure that we will come over to portland oneday soon
how much does t contribute?
love
joyce

Anonymous said...

Archana,
Are you applying some of ammachi's tricks too? I know that she used to make marble cakes
Oh i miss that Ann's marble cakes
I am sure that we will come over to portland oneday soon
how much does t contribute?
love
joyce

Puspha said...

OMG!!!!! What a beautiful cake. U must have put in lots of efforts. Well done & keep up the good job.

RP said...

Yes, please post pictures of the cake while you were working on it. You can easily say this is very very easy. But there is one important ingredient most of us don't have- "patience". Where can I buy some of that?? LOL

Reshma said...

stunning! and your daisy basket is a showstealer.Girl, you do wonders in your kitchen!are you a professional baker ...?

archana said...

Joyce chechi,
T, as usual did most of the cleaning up, and religiously ate all the cake crumbs. Marble cake is a nostalgia,Ann's ofcourse beats the rest. Can't wait to see you here in Portland....
Archana

archana said...

RP,
I have posted one more photo under the same post for you . Right now, i am froogling to look for a vendor for that essential ingradient that you suggested. HoHaaa.
Archana

archana said...

Thanks a ton for those kind words, Reshma. I am not a professional, but a humble, habitual, hobbiest...
Cheers
Archana

Anonymous said...

Archana,
I still remember your chilli chicken, fried rice and the veg stew. You must post them too. Honestly I have tried to reproduce them but never turned out good. Yeah the karimeen pollichathu and the prawn curry. Just keep those in line... I am beeing homesick
cheers
Joyce

ramya said...

You have truly harvested our tongurs to drool over your cake.It's simply fanatastic.

Nandita said...

That cake could give any professional a run for his/her money- the side panels and the chocolate dipped strawberries look absolutely designer
Welcome to the food blogosphere Archana- you have made an entry with a bang I must say :)

Inji Pennu said...

How can I place an order? I have never even seen something like this?

archana said...

Joyce chechi,
I will defanitely keep it in mind, and will post as soon as possible.
Have a great day
Archana

archana said...

Ramya, Nandita,Ig,
Thank you folks, i am glad that all of you came in. Thanks again for the good words. Ig... Send me an order and i will email you a slice.
Have a goodtime
Archana

Radhika said...

Beautiful cake as usual Archana.We r moving,thought I'll check ur blog once as we may not have internet in our new place for few days...and while I'm writing this my husband is calling me crazy ( that even in such a mess I'm connected).I've become a big fan of ur blog.

archana said...

Radhika,
I felt so good reading your comment, thank you so much. We are going to wait for you to come back ,may be i will be able to put in something more before you come in again. Meanwhile, have fun in your new place.
Archana

Ashwini said...

I am stunned! You are a very very talented lady. I dont bake often (both my husband and I have a sweet tooth and its best to nip the bud right there) but seeing that cake made me want to grab my mixing bowl and whip up a surprise for him. I read that you are not a professional baker but this is better than what I have seen in any bakery. Keep up the great work A. I am glad you joined the blog bandwagon :-)

Anthony said...

Looks good... My best wishes to Spicyana lol...

archana said...

Thanks for visiting Tony
Archana

the food therapist said...

very impressive, archana! this is so fantastically beautiful and gave me lots of ideas!

archana said...

Happy to see you her Summi, i am so glad that u liked it
Archana

Anonymous said...

hi...
this is the first time i visited your blog...that cake was amazing...but the link to how to make the chocolate cutouts doesnt seem 2 work...can u plz check out on that???

archana said...

Hi anon...s,
Thanks for visiting, happy that u liked the cake, the link is now working.
Archana

Anonymous said...

Iam stunned, well where were u hiding all these days, Reading all ur posts i was thinking about ur future, wat would u do, ok u have kept one step, starting a food blog and the appreciation you are getting for it, i think soon urs will be the best food blog.
Next i think u might start a bakery then a chain of bakeries
and one day u would write a book abt baking which would be the best selling ooh! now iam jealous of u, wish if i had this talent, this is wat i would have done.
Thanks a lot for starting this site by which we could all see ur talent and admire

archana said...

Anon..ous dear,
Thank you ,thank you,you are very very kind. You are setting the mark too high for me right now, i am flabbergasted for the moment. World sure is a better place with encouraging folks like you. Do come back to Spicyana

Bindu Vijayakumar said...

Wow that cake just looks great !

what a Treat to eyes!


Should def. be more treat to my tongue!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! »

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know from one Mallu to another-you are the best out there. It is difficult to sift through all the viscera of those purported bloggers but this was definitely worth my time in terms of written content as well as the fab pics-we're in Seattle-any chance of relocating to the Emerald city??!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Archana
This is my first visit to ur blog and as i was reading each of ur post the reactions were coool,wooow,spot onamazing.. fabulous ..OMG!!! and i must admit i'm at loss of words .. u are extreamly talented and very very creative.. keep up the good work gal ..U rock -Sirisha

Anonymous said...

Archana
How did you make the marble slabs? Can you also share some tips and tricks to help us?
Your cakes look fabulous, really!

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