Sunday, October 12, 2008

An Apology Cake. Or: The Cake That Nearly Gave Me a Stroke

So on Thursday morning I accidentally deleted Brian's half-finished philosophy paper. I felt horrible and told him I would make him a cake. It's kind of a long story.


Innards!

Our apartment has electrical issues. I don't really get the details but I do know that a Russian electrician was at our apartment for hours, saying things like, "So if you touch zees? And you also touch zees at zee same time? You will, how do you say... die?" And then we had to change our electrical outlets to two pronged ones for some reason. I also know that on one side of the apartment (the kitchen, the guest room, the dining room and the bathroom) you can't use more than one electrical appliance at a time without the power shutting off. Want to microwave breakfast and have the coffee maker on at the same time? Too bad.

On Thursday morning, I discovered that the outlet next to the bathroom must be on the same breaker as well because the power shut off when I tried to turn on the electrical kettle and use the hair dryer at the same time. So I moseyed over to the circuit breaker, which is a good two feet above my head. I squinted to look for the kitchen switch and then blindly reached up to reset it. But I wasn't wearing my contacts yet so I hit the one next to it, which powers my room, BJ's room and the living room. And consequently turned off BJ's computer that had his unsaved philosophy paper on it.

I felt horrible, even though he should've saved it or finished it before the morning it was due. So I apologized and told him I would make him a casatta cake to make up for it, which he's been asking me to do anyway. And in return, BJ agreed not to punch me in the face. A fair trade.

It took me a few days to get around to making, mostly because I'd never had cassata cake before. Cassata cake is just an Italian wedding cake, so there are tons of variations, mostly centering around sponge cake, fruit and ricotta-cream filling, like they put in cannolas (which, apparently, is the plural of cannoli). None of this information was really useful to me though, as I've never made sponge cake and couldn't remember what cannoli filling tastes like. I don't like cannolis/cannolas, crunchy cookies don't do it for me. Just accept it and move on.

Luckily, we live right by Little Italy, a little Italian neighborhood that happens to house Corbo's, an Italian bakery that specializes in the kind of cassata cake BJ likes. So Joe picked me up a slice of their cake, you know, purely for research purposes.

The sponge cake was light but more substantial than angel food cake. The whipped cream was, well, whipped cream. My favorite part was the ricotta cream and strawberries sandwiched between layers, I could eat just that with a spoon.

So I after I knew what each component was supposed to taste like, I set out to make the entire cake. Here's how a normal person bakes cassata cake: make sponge make. Make ricotta cream. Make whipped cream. Cut some strawberries up and toss them in sugar. Cut cake in half, fill with ricotta cream and strawberries. Plop the over layer on top. Frost with whipped cream. Top with more strawberries. Voila.

Pretty straight forward. But I was already pretty stressed so here's how I made it: Make sponge cake. Do probability equations that make your head explode for 45 minutes. Take out sponge cake 20 minutes early because it's pretty brown and a knife comes out clean. Curse when it deflates a little. Make ricotta cream. Make whipped cream. Cut strawberries. Realize that you need more whipped cream. Overbeat the rest of whipped cream, rendering it useless. Curse some more. Throw some butter in the Kitchen Aid to make an impromptu butter cream. Curse as all the butter flies out of Kitchen Aid when turned on. Collect the butter and pretend it's still sanitary. Throw in some powdered sugar, covering the rest of the kitchen in a fine mist. Scrape the whipped cream off the cake because the new frosting won't stick to whipped cream. Try to disguise the fact that the cake is a lopsided mess with lots of frosting and almonds. Try not to cry when the refrigerator door crushes a section of the cake. Clean up the battle ground that is the kitchen. Go do more statistics problems whilst trying not have a panic attack.

See? Easy.

How does it taste? Beats me, I haven't tried it. I don't even want to look at it anymore.


The I'm-Sorry-I-Deleted-Your-Philosophy-Paper Stroke Inducing Cake

At least it didn't turn out too hideous, I think I would've had to kill myself. But I was determined.

Here are the components I used (or tried to use):

Sponge Cake, adapted from allrecipes.com.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Separate the eggs. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until very thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar gradually. Add water, almond and vanilla extracts. Beat in flour.
  2. In another bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add cream of tartar and salt. Beat mixture until whites are stiff, but not until they are dry. Fold this whipped mixture into yolk mixture.
  3. Pour batter into an ungreased 9 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for one hour, or until done.(Don't you love the baking directions? Bake one hour, or until done. Um, great, thanks for that helpful hint. And the whole ungreased pan thing? Can't see where that would work. I had a feeling it would stick so I sprayed the pan down and it still stuck like crazy.)
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Ricotta Cream

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar (can add more or less depending on desired sweetness level)
2 Tbsp amaretto
1 tsp almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

Beat all ingredient until smooth, set aside.

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Whipped Cream Icing

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tbsp amaretto
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whip cream with confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Add amaretto and almond extract. Dissolve gelatin in water over low heat. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then whip into cream until stiff peaks form.
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Sugared Strawberries:

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut strawberries (I used about 3 lbs) into slices, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp sugar over them and toss to coat. Let sit at least 5 minutes.
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To assemble:

Cool sponge cake, unmold out of pan. Cut cake in half and spread on a layer of the ricotta cream. Layer half the strawberries over the cream, cover with other half of cake. Frost with whipped cream icing and cover with the remaining strawberries. If you wish, cover the sides of the cake with crushed almonds.
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Wish me luck on midterms, I may or may not kill myself by the time the week is up. Argh. Here's proof that I'm going insane:
It's a hair mustache!! Hahaha... ha?

3 comments:

Calana said...

You could have fooled me, because that cake looks SO amazingly delicious!

meeuh said...

fake mustaches run in the family...

Baker Babes Bakery said...

Your cake does look great! Next time you have a panic attack, check out our website www.baker-babes.com, pick up the phone and give us a call. We deliver.