Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Cakes

This weekend, my mother and I took a baking class. "Spectacular Summer Cakes" took us through the baking of many a flavorful dessert, based on seasonal fruits. As you may know, I have a little bit of trouble with baking - the whole "exact" and "no mistakes or substitutions" thing really tends to throw me, and everything ends up a disaster. So I was really looking forward to learning some more about this mysterious craft.

The class was small, only about 8 of us, which was great, because we all got to make multiple desserts and really get a sense of what everyone was doing. Our instructor was great about discussing the science of baking in simple terms, and calling everyone together whenever something important was going on. I learned that whipping eggs (yolks or whites, especially yolks) takes longer than you think. But whipping cream takes less time than you think. (Yes, we verged on butter. Twice.)

The ingredients discussion was perhaps the most enlightening to me. We went through specific baking ingredients and their subtle differences. For example, all purpose flour really can't replace cake flour. No matter how much I want it to. And unsalted butter is of the utmost importance. Gelatin and yeast need warm water (not hot, not cold) to bloom. White chocolate cannot be a substitute for bittersweet chocolate. Milk chocolate cannot be a substitute for semi-sweet chocolate. In essence - stick to the recipe exactly!!

For a lot of the class, my mom and I worked on a summer trifle. We made vanilla custard, chocolate custard, and sponge cake, then layered them with berries and a rum syrup. Above, my mother being heavy-handed with the syrup.

It turned out really well! Who knows if we'll ever actually make one of these, but having a good spongecake recipe will certainly come in handy. By the way, it was delicious.

Some of the other desserts we made were English summer pudding, ambrosia cake, chocolate cake with raspberry mouse, lemon pistachio jelly roll, lemon cheesecake with an almond crust, raspberry and strawberry brioche...

We ate well that night.


  1. total jealousy issues...I have them

  2. Many people ate well that night! Great baking Calvine and Calvine!!


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