It's not very often that I bake, particularly after learning that it'd be near-impossible for me to blaze my own baking trail when I'm surrounded by so many other spectacular bakers. But a friend created a cooking event, which he dubbed 'the non-charred cook-off', after we all lost faith in his cooking abilities - he burned sausage rolls - and I was under the impression us invitees were to bring something to help teach the guy some cooking tricks. With so many others bringing mains, I asked if I could make a dessert instead.
My request was two-fold in its purpose: to participate in the cook-off with something different, and for the dessert, a cake, to act as a birthday cake for someone whose birthday it would be. So yesterday I went shopping for enough ingredients to make the cake 2-times over: one for the real cake, and another for a trial run (like I said, I don't bake often, so I could do with all the practice I could get) which I did today.
The cake was a black forest gateau, which was one of the coolest looking cakes in one of the two cookbooks that I actually own, and I made it once before, a couple of years ago... and it took me 6 hours to make. It's not a cake that should take 6 hours, but I made so many stuff-ups that I had to redo things. At one point I was so fed-up with trying to whip cream with my arm and a fork that I went to the local homeware store and bought a mechanical egg-beater. Earlier that day I had to buy more eggs...
Anyway, this time I had the ingredients, but my technique was as rusty as an oil tanker, so today was more about trying to get the steps right for when I'd make the birthday cake proper next week.
To assist, I invited my friend the hug nazi who, as well as being named for making tonnes of hugs, has made several cakes in her lifetime, and has a camera infinitely better than what came with my mobile phone.
I started off with what I did the last time I made the cake, and came away with 1 very flat looking cake base that wouldn't have looked out of place at the bottom of a cheesecake. With my friend's help, she reasoned that the egg whites weren't fluffy enough, hence the cake wasn't fluffy enough either. With that, I let her beat the egg whites for the second layer of the cake to what she thought would be much better. It worked, and we ended-up with a layer almost twice as thick as the first one. I'll remember that for Black Forest Gateau 1.1.
When she wasn't helping though, my friend was licking chocolate off mixing bowls and cream off the egg beater. I was glad she had to go do some volunteer work this afternoon, otherwise she'd also have dug into the dark chocolate block and eaten half the cherries/strawberries when I was decorating the cake.
When she left, the cake looked like a gigantic oreo. When she returned, it looked like this:
(Edit: Thanks mum, but the spelling mistake is intentional. Google 'caek', and it won't try to suggest or correct you)
So lessons-learned, or things I'd like to improve upon for next time?
Firstly, beat the egg whites very thoroughly for a fluffier layer of cake.
Secondly, the cake lacked a bit of the 'black forest' part that I would associate with a cake of such a name, and so what I ended-up with felt more like a 'creamy milk chocolate' gateau. So maybe a lot more dark chocolate, a lot more cherries between layers, and a little less cream between layers too.
But for all its shortcomings, it didn't at all stop my friend and I from having an early dessert.
Edit: Bah, forgot to mention that the 'non-charred cook off' got cancelled the other night, but I went ahead and did this anyway. Maybe I'll still be able to get Black Forest Gateau 1.1 to the birthday girl anyway, we'll see.