Tuesday, January 20, 2009

{TWD} Surprise: It's Not-So-Hidden Berry Trifle!


From the moment on December 23, when I saw this cake was chosen, I had a bad attitude. Absolutely no offense meant to Mary Ann, of Meet Me in the Kitchen (one of my favorite bloggers and one of my favorite blogs!), who chose the recipe. It's a cool-sounding recipe and we're going to bake it anyway at some point, since we're baking the entire book! But I was cranky about this cake.

I just couldn't get my head around a plan for this cake. My holiday baking commitments were filled by other recipes. The finished product pretty much needs to be eaten the day it is assembled, and it can't be frozen. I couldn't find an occasion to serve the thing.

My springform pans were not the right size. This recipe calls for an 8" pan that's 3" deep. I didn't want to buy a new pan for a recipe that I knew - given its hefty quantities of cream, eggs, and cream cheese - that I would probably not make very often, if ever again.

And I didn't want to make a mini, because if I were going to bake this recipe, darn it, I wanted the full effect. But I couldn't see the two of us eating the whole cake. And, nope, there still wasn't an occasion on the horizon for this cake.

Plus, this recipe wasn't the easiest thing ever. It has four different elements that are made separately. Then the cake is carved up, hollowed out, brushed, coated, filled, covered and topped. And, there's no picture of this creation in the book.

Why, yes, I'd love some cheese with all that whine!

This cake was going to take awhile to make, and then it needed to be eaten right away. This was not something I could make and also prepare a dinner for guests. Not if I wanted to keep my sanity. Nope, I needed to bring it somewhere, as my sole contribution to an event.

Then I remembered the invite I'd received to our bi-monthly neighborhood supper club. A perfect occasion. But when I called the hostess of the event, she told me that there were already three desserts coming, and could I bring a side dish instead?

Rats! Back to whining.

I've never missed a recipe since I joined TWD in July, and this wasn't going to be my first. By now I was up to last week. Ultimately I decided to bake this for a friend who needed to be cheered. I had just a few hours to pull the cake together, and it needed to be gluten free for her. From the ingredient list it seemed like a decent plan at the time. This cake seemed to be all about the eggs, with just a bit of flour, so I thought I'd try it, using Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour mix.

Using some volume calculations (yes, more math) I found that my large silicone loaf pan was the approximate size as the pan the recipe specifies - and it was more than 3" deep. I thought that would be a cute shape to hide a surprise filling, the silicone pan would release the cake so I wouldn't need a springform, and the cake would make great slices. (Visualize success)

And it was then that I read the cake's actual directions. And saw that Dorie refers to the eggs as "divas". But I forged ahead.

Making the actual cake part was fascinating. I've never made a genoise (this type of spongy cake) or used this technique before. So I stirred the eggs and sugar in a bowl that sat in a skillet of simmering water. Sugar dissolved, eggs warmed, no problem.


Beating the egg mixture was also pretty cool; I found I needed to use speed #6 on my KA mixer. The volume increased, but I'm not sure I ever really got the exact kind of "ribbons". Overall, so far so good. The divas seemed to be cooperating.


All light and fluffy. Now to sift in the flour and pour in melted butter while coddling the diva eggs. The flour seemed to sink, but I tried to gently coax the divas to play nice. The batter tasted grainy - which is the problem I noticed Bob's gf flour the only other time I used it . But it had a good flavor, so I determined to remain optimistic.

While the cake baked, I whipped up the filling (ha ha, that's a pun!), and prepared my berries. I used a combination of blackberries and strawberries.

But although the cake did rise at bit, it fell and sank as it baked. Given its rectangular shape, it was truly a brick. No, it was more like a paving stone - the tallest part probably wasn't even an inch. There was no way I could make the Berry Surprise with such a flat cake.

This was made in a loaf pan, not a sheet pan!

So on to Plan B:

In the book Dorie waxes eloquent about the cake's whipped cream filling, and how you could just eat it with a spoon. So I'd make a spoon dessert from this recipe. It looked like I could salvage a bit of the cake and use it as a layer for trifle.

When I cut into the cake I could see huge pockets of dry flour that had never gotten incorporated. The center was so compressed it looked like it had been stepped on. I was actually too disheartened by the sight to document it photographically.

But I was able to salvage enough edge bits of cake to layer the bottom of a 7" glass bowl. These were tough and rubbery, but they were at least spongy. Then I spooned on a layer of the filling, spread a layer of berries, then another generous layer of filling. I never even made two elements of the recipe (the syrup and the topping)

the verdict:

Amazingly, this turned out to be pretty good. My celiac friend was ecstatic to have a delicious dessert that she could eat. I went back for seconds myself, and then left her with the remainder.

The filling was nowhere near sweet enough. 1T of sugar didn't make much of a dent sweetening 6 0z of cream cheese and a ton of cream. I'd add more sugar and some vanilla next time. I don't think this was the right cake to experiment with gluten free substitutions. Those diva eggs needed just the right support from their flour, I guess.

Although I'd like to master this technique - eventually - it will be a looooong time before I'm ready to tackle this cake again. But until then I know how to make a lovely trifle!

42 comments:

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm sorry you were cranky. It's really pretty though!

Cathy said...

I think you recovered nicely by turning this into a pretty trifle. My divas threw a hissy fit even with AP flour, so I'm not sure if it was the gluten-free flour or just the tempermental nature of these eggs. The hardened bits of flour in the finished product might have been the most infuriating part of this for me. I'm glad that you ended up with a tasty dessert that your friend could enjoy!

Cristine said...

Sorry the cake didn't work, but your trifle looks gorgeous!

Audrey said...

I'm so impressed with your creative solution - and that you made a dessert your friend could enjoy. Given the comments about this cake, I have to admit I'm glad I shirked...and it sounds like this is the perfect dessert to serve with whine. Great job, as always!

Amanda said...

It's funny, it's like your post described my experience! Mine turned out pretty, but it fell too much and I wasn't happy with the flavor of the cake. Oh well, next week! :)

oh BTW, there's a picture of the cake on the back cover of the book :-P I discovered that AFTER I was finished making the recipe and closed the book, bam, there it was!

Danielle said...

Sorry your cake didnt come out like you had hoped.
The triffle looks amazing.

Peggy said...

I love that you made yours into a trifle. Excellent idea! I'm with you on everything you said about this cake. Not sweet enough, some flour spots didn't get mixed enough, but it was an interesting cake to make nonetheless! And yours is very pretty! My second one worked, I just didn't care for the texture of it. I"m so glad we can commiserate together though!

MacDuff said...

SO TRUE. I had to read a few of your statements out loud to Jon, so he'd know I wasn't the only one sighing in my kitchen. Yes, I read the recipe and thought "Oh crap. I missed last week, but I should have skipped THIS week!" And my cupcakes were bricks as well. Those darn eggs. And the topping? We were supposed to just want to eat that? Maybe that's why she's so thin - she has weird tastes. But your trifle looks awesome. Wish I was your celiac friend!

Flourchild said...

Pretty looking trifle. This cake was a hard one for me too. Mine did not rise and it was just really short! I did like the taste.

rainbowbrown said...

Nicely done, I'm glad you could end up using this TWD for a friend.

spike. said...

nice save!

karen said...

glad that it all worked out in the end. :) your trifle looks really nice.

Jessica said...

I hear you on the cranky factor. I was almost there with you. It's hard when it's something that can't freeze and won't keep well. Props to you on a successful gluten-free treat for your friend. Even if the hidden & cake parts didn't work out, I still think that the overall result is great.

leanne said...

I was with you on the cranky factor. After mine fell, I should have gone the trifle way! It looks awesome. I took your advice from the P&Q that it wasn't sweet enough and added some sugar

Karen said...

Sorry you were cranky...but at least you are honest! :) Your trifle looks way better then mine!

Sweet Charity said...

You know, almost every TWD post I've read about this cake mentions either the cake not rising properly, or sinking once out of the oven, or both, regardless of type of flour or eggs... I'm glad you were able to turn your cake into something delicious.
When you're ready to give the cake a go again, the recipe in Joy of Cooking for genoise is really good, and easy to follow :)

Reeni♥ said...

Your end result looks beautiful! I'm glad you could salvage enough to make a dessert after all the work you put into it.

Megan said...

Oh Nancy, I always cringe when I read your posts because I'm afraid your going to throw math at me and my brain just can't wrap around it.
Whew - today wasn't too bad - I could follow you all the way through!

SiHaN said...

Talk about being postive. Yes.. your trifle looks absolutely stunning in that bowl. I would have dived in with no reservations. haha. Well done!

Marie said...

Your trifle looks fabulous!! I Love it! Well done you!!

ecrunner said...

You recovered nicely and the trifle turned out beautiful judging by the pictures ; it looks and sounds delicious!! Great job on this tough recipe!

Piggy said...

Sorry to know that you encountered so much problems. But your "trifle" looks darn good!

kim said...

i feel your pain... i had the exact same problems with the cake :( i'll have to experiment with other genoise recipes, there must be something we are all doing wrong. anyway, it looks really beautiful as a trifle! glad it tasted good!

pinkstripes said...

Wow, I'm glad you were able to soldier on and make a trifle out of it all (that the recipient loved, no less!).

The trifle looks yummy.

bakingwiththeboys said...

The trifle was a great recovery. I made only half the recipe and there is still some in the fridge. I probably just need to toss it. I think the gingerbread will be a nice break next week.

Natashya said...

Such a great idea to make trifle! Mine sank too, oh well.
Your friend must have been thrilled, it is so pretty.

chocolatechic said...

You sure can have some cheese with that whine.

Jules Someone said...

Wow, you are a nice friend! Glad it all worked out in the end. I didn't even attempt it.

Katrina said...

Great whining and with every right. This was a toughy! I had trifle in mind the whole time knowing the cake might not turn out. Mine didn't fall, but I also didn't care for the taste of it. Oh well. Glad I tried. Good job making a friend happy with the gluten free!

Fit Chick said...

Now I know what to do with my left over cake! Thank you for the inspiration. I will however try to make it more flavorful.

Carol Peterman said...

The trifle is beautiful, sorry it wasn't a more positive experience. I bet the gluten-free flour was somewhat to blame for the heavy cake, but it could also have been the silicone pan. Sponge cakes need to grab on to the sides of the pan as they rise and the silicone pan may have been too slick to support the rise before the cake structure fully baked. I hope you give this another try at some point and use a metal cake pan even if it is the wrong diameter. I think you could even use a non-springform as long as you put a disk of parchment in the bottom. Also, try bumping up your mixing speed to at least 8 for the first few minutes to build volume and then back it down to 6 for the remainder of the mixing time.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

You always know how to land with your feet on the ground. This looks lovely. I would never have known it was intended any other way.

TeaLady said...

Oh, Nancy, that Trifle is to die for. What a great save. Beautiful

What's for Supper? said...

What a great idea! Very creative. I also didn't have the correct pan for this cake. I was not a fan of the filling and should have added some sugar.

natalia said...

Ciao Nancy ! I love your idea it's beautiful !! I was so scared as well (more than of yeast or gelatine)

jillbert said...

I felt your frustration when I read this, but in the end, the trifle looks beautiful and you made your friend happy!

Di said...

Wonderful job on this one--I'm glad your friend enjoyed it. I was going to make trifle, too, but then my cake actually turned out the way it was supposed to. =)

The Food Librarian said...

Sorry the cake didn't turn out, but what a perfect trifle! Looks even better that way!

Pamela said...

LOL...cheese with the whine! Too funny, Nancy. Well, this cake was a bit of a PITA to make, but you did a great job with the trifle. Looks great!

Cooking for Comfort by Jennifer said...

Your trifle looks beautiful!!!! Nice job!!!

Jess said...

I really think this cake needs to be a trifle - every post I've seen makes me want to try it again...and make a trifle. And I'm very impressed that you've been able to keep up every single week. Nice job!

AmyRuth said...

Nancy, You put into words the same feeling of conflict I had with this weeks recipe. I baked on the weekend, didn't post til I had someone to eat the darn thing on Thurs. night dinner? Gosh so i was late with the fun. Anyway, that part was way more complicated than the making. Yours looks so pretty in the lovely crystal bowl. I like that. Sorry you had trouble with the eggs. Funny, how that works. Maybe you would like it in the more active times of year with summer fruit. Who knows....you might surprise yourself. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving kind words.
AmyRuth