July 30, 2007

Magic Mirror on the...Cake?!?


Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! It's off to work I go...
In an attempt to get people out of their cubicles and interacting outside of meetings, email and instant messages, my company sponsors monthly social events. In the spirit of teamwork, they're hosted by a single work group that chooses a theme and plans the parties. This month's theme: the County Fair, courtesy of the Marketing Department. Complete with an executive dunk tank, an artwork contest, snow cones, cotton candy, and a pie eating contest.

What's this doing on my food blog?

The last event listed on the promotional flier was a bake-off.

From the moment the event was announced, eager colleagues encouraged me to participate. Having tasted several of her culinary concoctions (as duplicated in my kitchen), they wanted to know if I was "making a Peabody."

Hmm... Peabody's hosting this month's Daring Baker Challenge... The Strawberry Mirror Cake... And I've got a week to prepare...


T-minus-four- Buried in strawberries...
I decided to tackle the berry components first. Hulled and quartered 2 pounds of strawberries. Said a silent prayer of thanksgiving that I have a manicure appointment on Thursday. Not sure how my manicurist will feel about using my thumbnails as strawberry hullers, but hey! it works!

Once they were hulled, cleaned and chopped, the process went quickly. Half in the blender to create strawberry puree. Half in a saucepan with sugar and water to become strawberry juice. A-MAY-zingly fragrant strawberry juice. So far, so good...



T-minus-three - If it's Tuesday, it must be genoise...
Here's where the challenge started for me -- with the genoise.

Peabody was clear in her instructions: the cake components are supposed to be white. I knew as I poured the batter into the sheet pan that mine was not going to comply. I blame the organic egg yolk and beg her indulgence.

Things got even more interesting when I turned the cake out of the pan as instructed. If I try this again (and so far its a possible repeater) I'm going to skip that step and do my cutting in the pan on the parchment. Because even employing my paper-thin bench scraper, I lost bits of cake from the bottom and my layers are a half layer shorter than they were on the counter. I think this is actually going to work to my advantage -- I had some concern the layers would be too thick to work in my miniature springforms.


T-minus-two - A Bavarian Creme Dream...

I owe my success with the Bavarian Creme portion of this assignment to the amazingly talented Shuna of Eggbeater. Her earnest explanation of all things Anglaise in her most recent ice cream class gave me just the confidence I needed to combine scalding milk, beaten eggs and sugar into strawberry-creamy goodness. The recipe suggested adding food color at this juncture, but I skipped that step as my strawberry mixture was a pleasant pink without enhancement. After I shuttled the assembled cakelettes to the refrigerator to set I sampled a bit of the leftover cream from the side of the bowl. I've decided that Bavarian & Diplomat Creme are the crack cocaine of the baking world (and I can't *wait* to see what kind of searches this post yields). I don't need that kind of temptation in my refrigerator (nor any additional "insulation" on my hips) so I'm glad these are going to work with me on Friday...


T-minus-one - Images viewed in this mirror do not reflect reality...
My Bavarian creme was a success; my mirror, not so much so. Shuna? Are you listening? I need a class in working with gelatin...

The mirror experience actually started out quite smoothly after a late night trip to the grocery store for kirsch... but the end result was anything *but* smooth. I think my mistake was in my interpretation of syrupy. Perhaps stirring with a spoon rather than a whisk might have helped. Because what was 'syrupy' in the bowl was congealed and clumpy by the time it hit the third of my six cakes. I could spread it across the cake with the back of a spoon, but the resulting mirror was way beyond warped.

I also left the food coloring out of my mirror -- it was an intense red without it.


Let the games begin...
My colleagues take their baking seriously, and the competition was stiff. Luscious Lemon Squares. A promising Croissant Pudding with Brandy Sauce. Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars. And our corporate logo turned Carrot Cake.

Our CIO went through the California Culinary Academy's pastry program, and his creamy summer cheesecake took the top prize.

The Director of Human Resources grew up assisting in grandma's bakery, and her very berry pavlova came in second.

Me and my "Peabody"... we came in third. And we're quite proud of our white ribbon!

To see how my brothers and sisters in pastry fared with their mirrors, check out the Daring Baker Blogroll.

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32 comments:

Mary said...

Congratulations on placing in your "County Fair" bake-off. Sounds like a fun place to work.

Amrita said...

Good Job!!!!

KJ said...

This sounds like my kind of company. My workplace's idea of a social event is half priced beers.

Your cake is a worthy winner. It looks luscious. I'm glad it was enjoyed.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

You made heart shape ones and didn't win! Sounds like a fun thing to do at work.

Lis said...

I am so damn proud of you! Your cakes are gorgeous and totally award-worthy!

And yeah.. cool company you work for.. do they need any help? :D

What'd your manicurist say? hahahahaaa still giggling over that part.

A most excellent job - and Congratulations again!

xoxox

breadchick said...

Wow! Great job on the cake!!! I think your CIO should have been disqualified as a "ringer" though....

Andrea said...

Congratulations! An awesome showing and a beautiful cake!

Chubby Cheek Girls said...

Congratulations on your third place win!!! YAY!!!!!
Well deserved considering the competition. That is so Awesome! I wish I had a ribbon, but I'm too nervous to enter stuff like that...

Deborah said...

Congrats!! What a fun time!

I had the opposite - I had issues with the Bavarian cream but not the mirror. We can trade next time!!

Quellia said...

Nice work! Did everyone like the flavor?

Peabody said...

Once again I a so very proud that you and your cake took third place! Great job Dolores.

sunita said...

Well done..that's what I call 'killing two birds with one stone :D

Rose said...

What a great atmosphere you must work in. I am so happy for you. You really desrve it

Cheryl said...

I know that does sound like my kinda company too. I would love a nice bakeoff here. Well done.

veron said...

Congratulations on your award. It is well deserved!

Dharm said...

What a lovely cake! And congrats on the award too - that must have been nice to get!!

Elle said...

Congratulations again! Your cake looks wonderful and it must have tasted great, too, to win 3rd. If 1st & 2nd place winners had been amateurs, it could have been 1st!

Heather said...

I wish my office would have events like that. I need to find a place to work that appreciates food like yours.
Congrats on your ribbon

the pastry princess said...

congrats!! definitely a winner in my book...esp with the cute hearts!

Inne said...

congratulations with your 'county fair' win! As you were up against the professionals, in my opinion their wins don't count :)

Nazca said...

I'd have demanded a recount and then started a food fight!

Jenny said...

I have so many foodies at my work place, I think I should copy this idea for the future. We did have a cakewalk to raise money earlier this year....

Nice job on your cake!

Cynthia said...

Yaaayy! Congratulations!

Kelly-Jane said...

Well done! Great cake :)

Amy said...

Beautiful! Congrats on the win. :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

CONGRATS! That is so awesome!

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Congratulations on the prize! You should have come first if you ask me. Your cake looks lovely

Kristen said...

Very well done!
Congrats on winning the bake off. Very nice!

Tartelette said...

Congratulations! My boss's idea of a social event is a marathon, ahahah!!!
Your cake deserved first!

The Cooking Ninja said...

Congrats ! Love your cake.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Um . . . how did I miss this one.
Great write up Delores. Congratulations how many months late!

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