Thursday, February 3, 2011

Love is Patient Cake: Pomegranate/Key Lime Chiffon Puzzle Cake

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Pomegranate/Key Lime "Love is Patient Cake"
Green Tea/Cassis "Love is Patient Cake"




 In elementary school, we took a few hours the week of Valentine's Day to craft something special.  We'd mangle craft paper with child safety scissors and adorn the soft paper with globules of paste.  We'd wantonly sprinkle glitter and sequins in the general direction of our project.  We'd weave heart shaped baskets to contain any sentimental missives we might receive as well.  We took care and pleasure in our work, relishing in the possibility of making someone happy.

But to woo with any mastery, you must take time with your gifts of love.  You must have patience.

This cake, requires both:  love and patience.  But if you master it, your sweet declaration will be very well received.

Love Is Patient Cake

For this puzzle of a cake, you'll need layers and layers of chiffon cake to assemble this properly.  You may think to yourself that there's possibly too much cake involved.  And I'd agree with you if you were already adept at making this. Otherwise, you'll thank me that you have extra with which to play.

Before we start, keep in mind that for a single cake, you're going to need 3 layers of pomegranate chiffon and 2 layers of key lime chiffon (or 3 layers green tea and 2 layers cassis). Each layer will be 1/2 inch thick.  Repeat this to yourself, 3 layers pomegranate and 2 layers key lime chiffon.  1/2 inch thick.  Before you start, make sure you have the following handy:  (1)  cardboard cake rounds or similar to hold all your layers (2)  toothpicks  (3)  a large, very sharp, serrated knife (4)  a revolving cake stand (5)  2 10" cake rounds (6)  patience.

For the Chiffon Layers

Chiffon is made with oil.  This means it's perfect for freezing.  And because this cake takes such a long time to make, you can build it ahead of time, frost it and then cover & freeze until the big reveal.


Makes (2) 10" layers

Preheat oven to 375º (350º convection)

Ingredients

(NOTE:  This recipe is for the white and pink cake, the green and purple cake is green tea/cassis. If you'd prefer this flavor combo, you'll need 3 layers of green tea cake and 2 layers cassis chiffon.  In this case, for the green tea chiffon use 1 cup green tea +1 tablespoon matcha powder instead of the 1 cup juice along with a drop of green dye.  For the cassis, use 1/2 cup cassis purée mixed with 1/2 cup water)

***  You'll need to make this recipe TWICE, once for pomegranate and once for key lime.  So remember, you'll need double this amount in ingredients***

3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 eggs, room temperature and separated
2/3 cup vegetable oil (Canola is perfect as well)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup pomegranate juice (for the key lime chiffon, you'll use 1/2 cup key lime juice and 1/2 cup water)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 drop red dye for the pomegranate cake (optional)

Procedure

-Prepare your cake pans by lining the bottom with parchment sprayed with non-stick spray.  DO NOT SPRAY THE SIDES OF THE CAKE PAN WITH NON-STICK SPRAY!  You don't want the cake to pull from the sides, this helps the cake from collapsing before it cools and keeps the size of the cakes uniform.  (I use cake rings, that are bottomless.  I place parchment on a sheetpan and spray that and then plop the rings down so none of the spray touches the sides).

-In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together 8 egg yolks and oil until combined.  Add pomegranate juice and dye if using (or key lime) slowly until just combined.

-Sift together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the egg yolk mixture and whisk for about 40 seconds.  Set aside.

-In a CLEAN and DRY mixing bowl fit with a CLEAN whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until foamy. Slowly add remaining 1 cup of sugar and whisk on high until you achieve, stiff white peaks. Make sure not to over whip to the point of chunky dryness.

-Gently fold in the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula, until fully combined.

-Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans.  Bake for 25 minutes, until the cake bounces back when you poke it.

-Repeat with the key lime chiffon.

Wait until the cake is cool and run a thin, sharp knife along the sides to release the cake

-You'll have 2 cake rounds each of pomegranate chiffon and key lime chiffon.  Allow the cakes to cool before you release them from the pan with a very thin, sharp knife run along the very edge of the pan.  If you release the cakes too soon, they may collapse.  PATIENCE!

-While your cakes are cooling make the buttercream.

BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar
1 cups water
squirt of lemon
15 egg whites
pinch of salt
2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature (preferable a little cooler than room temperature, if possible)
1/4 cup pomegranate juice (if you're making the green tea/ cassis version, replace with 1/4 cup cassis purée)
1 drop red dye

You'll need:  A sugar thermometer

Procedure

-In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine sugar, water and squirt of lemon.  Make sure the sugar is completely saturated so that it looks like wet sand an no dry spots can be seen.  Place over medium low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely melted.  With a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the sides of the pan to remove any sugar crystals clinging to the sides.  Stop stirring, turn of the heat to high, attach the sugar thermometer and heat to 234º (soft ball).

-While you're tending your sugar, whisk the egg whites and salt together until they are foamy.  When the sugar has come to temperature, very carefully transfer the HOT sugar syrup to the mixer and while the mixer is running on medium/medium high, SLOWLY and CAREFULLY pour the hot sugar mixture down the SIDE of the bowl and into the egg whites.  Add all the sugar and whisk on high until the meringue achieves stiff peaks and the mixing bowl is cool to the touch (this is important, if the meringue is warm, the butter will melt and the buttercream won't come together.  If think this has happened, put the bowl in the freezer for minute and then start mixing again).

-Slowly add bits of butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time.  There's a chance you won't need all of the butter.  Keep an eye out for the texture of the buttercream, it's takes some time to come together.  But a visual cue is when it looks as if its starting to separate or curdle.  This is an indication that with a little  more whisking, the buttercream will smooth out and be ready.

-slowly add pomegranate juice and dye and whisk until fully combined.


See, it looks  a bit nasty and curdled.  Just a few more seconds of whisking and it will be ready!
SEE!  It's ready!

ASSEMBLY

You'll need:  Simple Syrup (microwave together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water until the sugar has completely melted into the water).

This is what's going to blow your mind and your patience.  But first, let's measure.

OK, we want 3 layers of pomegranate and 2 layers of key lime.  You have 2 cake layers of each kind.

Take one layer and measure out 1/2 inch along the perimeter, placing toothpicks ever 2 inches or so along the perimeter and then measure out 1 inch thick.  It's painstaking but if you're not a pro at eye balling and cutting layers, you'll thank me.

(helpful hint:  Once the layers of chiffon are cooled and you've released them from the pan, put them in the freezer for 5 - 10 minutes.  This will make the slicing easier.)

Measure and insert toothpicks!

Take your very sharp serrated knife and place it horizontally on the edge of the cake where the one inch marker is. The trick is to keep the knife perfectly level, using the toothpicks as a guide.  Put one hand on top of the cake and spin the cake on the cake stand slowly and just keep the knife level.  Let the spinning motion to the hard work, don't move the knife.  Keep spinning and let the knife naturally cut into the cake.  Don't saw, just let it keep spinning and applying small pressure to the knife, keeping it level, so that it slices cleanly through the cake, making an even layer.

Put the top layer aside on a cardboard cake round.  Continue with the second layer, so you end up with 3 layers total.  Do this with the remaining (3) cake rounds.

Keep the knife level and let the spinning of the cake platter do most of the work.

So if you're counting,  you've got 12 layers of cake.  But chances are, not all of them are perfect, are they?  I didn't think so. If they are, then you could ostensibly make 2 separate cakes but I've got a feeling you're looking at the mess before you and you're thanking St. Valentine that you've got the extra.

Choose the BEST and most even layers of cake:  3 layers of pomegranate and 2 layers of key lime.  Brush the top of each with simple syrup.

Take a layer of pomegranate and spread about 1 cup of butter cream evenly over the entire cake.  It should be about 1/8" thick.  Place a key lime layer on top of the buttercream layer and then add another 1/8" layer to that.  Continue like this with another pomegranate layer and then another key lime layer.  So now you have a 4 layer cake sitting in front of you.  Phew.  The easy part is over. Place this cake in the fridge until the butter cream has completely set.  For about an hour.

Take a deep breath. Now take another.  Find an 8" round cake pan or even a 8" pot lid.  You need a guide, that's all.  Set aside.  Get a REALLY sharp, thin knife.  It can be serrated or not.  Get a tall glass of very hot water and dip the knife in the water. Take the cake out of the fridge and center the 8" circle guide on top of the cake and using your knife, draw a very shallow guide line.  Again, this is just a marker, not a deep cut.  And with a sharp knife in your hand and a prayer on your  lips...
This is my crater.  See, it's not perfect.  I'm going to be schmearing this with a layer of buttercream anyway.

Remove your guide and place your knife at an angle, about 45 degrees, and cut along the 8" guide into the cake.  you are taking out a cone shaped chunk of cake from the middle of the cake and you may feel the knife hit the bottom.  That's ok.  Just keep it steady and even as you cut at an angle INTO the cake.  When you've gotten all the way around, take another cake round and place it on top of the cake and invert it so that the cone piece you've cut comes out.  If it's perfect, the narrowest end of the cone will measure bout 2" across.  But if it's not perfect, don't worry.  Set the cone piece of cake aside.

The crater is schmeared and waiting to be topped with the last pomegranate layer.


Invert the original cake, now with a hole, back to it's original position so you're staring at a cake with a crater dug into it.  Take a deep breath.  Layer the crater and the top rim of cake with an 1/8" layer of butter cream.  Take that 3rd layer of pomegranate cake that's been hanging around and place on top of the cratered cake so it sits on top.  Don't press on it. You want this lying flat.  Quickly grab a cake cardboard circle, place on top of the pomegranate layer and invert the cake, so that the pomegranate layer is now the bottom of the cake.  Press GENTLY on the center of the cake so that you reverse the crater.  It may crack a little, that's ok.  Keep pressing along the top until you've created an indentation at the middle of the cake that mimics your original crater.  It's scary to be shoving a cake into place but that's what you need to do.

Spread another 1/8" layer of buttercream into the crater and along the rim.  Now grab the cone of cake you set aside and insert it into your newly formed crater.  Press gently.  Apply a thin layer (a crumb coat) of buttercream onto the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate until set.

Take a look around.  It's a mess.  but chances are you'll have a few cake bits lying around.  I take the key lime bits and cut off any browned areas and place on a sheetpan. I dry out those pieces in a 200 - 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I cool the cake pieces and then pulverized in a food processor.  I use those fine crumbs to coat the sides of the cake!  You see, there is another use for all that extra!

Smooth the remaining buttercream on the cake in a smooth, finished layer.  Cut hearts from parchment and smooth them onto the top and the sides of the cake until they are firmly attached.  Gently press the cake crumbs on the cake until it's covered evenly.  Brush off any areas where the crumbs have clumped and then carefully removed the parchment pieces.

Breath a sigh of relief.


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