Strawberry Mirror Cake
First of all, I’ve never made a mirror cake before. I’ve never made a Bavarian cream either. My sponge cake skills were rusty since it’s been years since I made one. The good news is that I did have a small bottle of Kirsch (clear cherry brandy) in the cupboard, and some cake flour left over from the March challenge. Although I use it once in a blue moon, I also had some cream of tartar.
The first part, lining the jelly roll pan with parchment paper, was easy and fun and I was so glad that I let Sweetie talk me into buying some new 11 x 17 inch rimmed pans recently…sure I probably would have bought them anyway, but it was nice that he wanted me to…I think he enjoys the challenges as much as I do. Being the official taste tester has its advantages.
Since I knew that I would be doing separated eggs for both the cake and the Bavarian, I separated the eggs for both at the same time, then saved the Bavarian eggs in sealed containers for later. Separating the eggs while they were chilly, then letting them come to room temperature to bake with seems to work well. I also made the strawberry juice the day before I made the Mirror. Since I was processing strawberries for the Bavarian cream, it seemed like a good time to do it.
One of the key things about making the sponge cake is to beat the eggs and sugar for a looooong time to get the air incorporated. Because I only have one Kitchen Aid mixer mixing bowl, I actually beat my egg whites first, with sugar added as directed, almost to glossy stage, then transferred them to another bowl while I beat the eggs and sugar.
Once the eggs and sugar were light and thick and yummy looking, with vanilla incorporated, I whisked the whites in the non-mixer bowl for a while to bring them up to glossy stage, then followed the recipe by sifting flour over the egg sugar mixture and folding it in. I lightened the mixture with some of the whites, then folded in the rest of the whites gently, taking the spatula down the center, then up the side of the bowl, turning the bowl a bit, then repeating…center, side, turn, center, side, turn.
The most nerve wracking part was spreading the batter in that huge pan, trying to keep the air in the batter in the process. This batter bakes up into a fairly thin cake, but that’s OK. You need room for two layers and the Bavarian cream in that spring form pan.
I also found that leaving the parchment on the cake while cutting out the two layers was a good idea, but peel the parchment off fairly soon so it doesn’t stick when the cake cools the rest of the way. The diameter of the cake needs to be about ½ to 1 inch smaller than the spring form pan to allow the Bavarian cream to surround it.
I made the Bavarian cream a couple of days later. The cake was in the fridge and it seemed like it would keep for a couple of days. We had invited guests for dinner on Saturday and I wanted to serve the cake to them. I left the mirror part for Saturday morning, but I did make the juice early…more on that later.
The first thing I did was prepare the puree. Since I had bought a large clamshell of strawberries at the grocery store…about 4 pounds of them!...I estimated how many would make 1 ½ cups of puree. After removing the caps and slicing them, I put them in the food processor and let it whirl until it looked like a puree, seeds and all. Then I left for lunch and put it in the fridge. When I came home, I put the puree in a bowl and sprinkled on the gelatin, stirred the gelatin in, then set it aside.
When the yolks that I had separated the day before were at room temperature, it was back to beating eggs and sugar a long time until light. I had no trouble with the hot milk, with adding it carefully to the sugar and yolk mixture (and yes, I did temper it), nor with cooking that mixture the proper amount.
Now that the cake has had plenty of time to cool in the fridge and the Bavarian cream is made, it’s time to assemble the cake, up to the Mirror part.
I put together the soaking sugar syrup flavored with the kirsch, then prepared the 10-inch spring form pan. Covering the circle of cardboard with foil was not as simple as I had thought it would be. I ended up going over the whole disc with a rolling pin to flatten everything nicely. I also made sure to coat the sides of the pan all the way up to the rim with the oil. Notice the space between the edge of the cake and the sides of the pan in the photo below. That's where the Bavarian goes.
The syrup went on the cake nicely, the Bavarian cream needed a little pushing down with the spatula to make sure it covered the space between the cake and the pan sides, but putting the cake together was simple. I had lots of Bavarian cream, but needed to restrain myself from using too much so that there would be room for the Mirror. In the photo that came with the recipe, it looked like the cream was supposed to be about the same depth as the cake. I almost forgot to use the soaking syrup on the second layer, but remembered right before I covered it with the cream.
The top was as even as I could make it, but not really level.
The official recipe puts the Mirror next, but you need to make the Juice before you can make the mirror, so here we go…
The strawberries need to be processed first, caps removed and sliced or chunked to make them easier to crush. While the berries and sugar were simmering, I discovered that I had no more cheesecloth, nor a jelly bag, so I improvised by using a coffee filter. Worked like a charm. It is important to not press on the fruit, just let the mixture drip. That way your juice is clear and your mirror will be lovely.
On to the Mirror. It’s Saturday, in the morning. I have a ton of things to do to get ready for the dinner party, but the mirror is first.
I stirred the gelatin into the lemon juice, kirsch and water mixture. The hardest part was deciding how red to color the mirror. I think I used 4 drops of red food coloring. The ice bath situation was not any better than it had been for the Bavarian, so I did some freezer time, stirring the mixture with my clean fingers to keep the heat level even as it cooled, then finished it in the ice bath. The layer I poured over the Bavarian, which had been chilling overnight, was more than 1/16 inch because the top was not even and I wanted to make sure that the mirror was over the whole cake. The limitation was that I didn’t want to have it go over the rim of the spring form pan. Tricky!
It’s Saturday afternoon. The Mirror has set, the house is clean, the dinner prep is underway and it’s time to finish the cake. Oh, yes, and take photos, too.
The towel I use to wrap around the pan is too short! I add some paper towels quickly doused in hot water and wrung out. While they sit on the outside of the pan, I take a small sharp knife and run it all around the edge at the rim, making sure that the tip of the knife hits the Bavarian cream and that I get all around without taking the knife out. Now for the most daring part. I take off the towels, slowly unlatch the pan and….ta da!...the cake is ready for the serving platter. Well, almost ready. The sides of the cake look pretty plain, although the mirror is lovely. Since I still have lots and lots of strawberries, I decide to slice them and march the slices around the side of the cake. When I plated the slices after dinner, I drizzled a spiral of strawberry puree on each dessert plate first, then put on the cake slice.
Thank you Peabody for picking a very good challenge for July. Making the cake increased my skills and the cake itself was certainly enjoyed by our guests and by Sweetie. It was pretty, sweet, light, and rich…prefect for a dinner party. I would probably make it again, but most likely with raspberries. I would also make sure that I had plenty of ice for the ice water baths. Now I only wish I could give you a piece of the Strawberry Mirror Cake.
Strawberry Mirror Cake
Daring Bakers Challenge #8: July 2007
Host: Peabody (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)
Post Date: July 30th
Recipe Quantity: One (1) 10" Cake
Special Pans: 11 x 17" Jelly Roll Pan, 10" Springform Pan, 8 1/4" Cake Round or Tin (or pattern)
A. Strawberry Mirror Cake
• 3 eggs
• 3 egg yolks
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 3 egg whites
• 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
• 2 TBSP sugar
• 2/3 cup sifted cake flour
• ½ cup water
• 1/3 cups sugar
• 2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur
1.Preheat oven to 450F. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan(rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.
2.Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.
3.In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, ad cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks(do not over beat).
4.Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
5.Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch(7 to 10 minutes).
6. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside. Cake may be frozen at this point.
B. Strawberry Bavarian Cream
• 2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
• 1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree(1 ½ baskets)
• 5 egg yolks
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1 ½ cups milk
• 1 TBSP lemon juice
• several drops of red food coloring
• 1 ¾ cups whipping cream
1.Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.
2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl' beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Pour hot milk into yolk mixture ans stir with a wooden spoon(it doesn't say so but I would temper the egg mixture first to be safe). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon.(Do not boil or mixture will curdle.) Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
3.While gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1 TBSP kirsch
• 1 TBSP water
• 1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
• Few drops of red food coloring
1.Prepare strawberry juice.
2.Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.
• 1 ½ pints of strawberries(18 oz)
• ¾ cup sugar
• ¾ cup water
1. Wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop.
2. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes.
3.Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).
Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.
To Assemble the Cake:
1. Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
2. Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets(1 to 2 hours).
3.Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.
Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.