Continental Bakes

A Prinsesstarta Challenge

This next challenge seems extremely fussy.  Custard.  Jam.  Genoese sponge.  Fondant.  Marzipan.  Whipped cream…SO MUCH STUFF!

But like my Dad taught me about tackling huge projects…like eating an elephant…you just have to take one bite at a time.

I found the recipe on the BBC web site here.  Weirdly, they put the steps in an order that didn’t make sense (to me).  I read through it and decided to make some logical changes…then I realized that the reason why they had you make the custard first is so that it can chill in the fridge for a bit.  Ah well.

So I started with the sponge:  4 eggs, 150 g sugar, 75 g. cornflour (aka corn starch), 75 g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 50 g butter (melted).  Mix eggs and sugar until it’s thick and gooey on the high speed mixer.  Add corn starch, flour and baking powder by hand, gently folding in.  Then add the melted butter, and fold that in.

Pour into the 9″ springform pan, sprayed with oil and lined with parchment.  Bake 350 F for 25-30 minutes.

Later…you pull it out of the oven…isn’t it pretty?  And a little concave in the middle?  And lopsided?  (Remember, my oven is tilted.)

Make the jam:  200 g berries, 175 g sugar, and a couple tablespoons of water.  They called for raspberries, but A) I don’t have any on hand–they’re not in season until July, and B) I don’t really like them in cake.  Or on cake.  Or around cake.  Just stay away from my cake, raspberries!  Simmer for 5 minutes or so.  Jam is done, set aside to cool and thicken.

Make custard.  This recipe tells you to add corn starch, which the previous recipe I used didn’t.  That’s curious.  I set it aside for a while, then went back because it was still really soupy.  I heated it up again and *finally* it thickened up.  I stirred it until I thought it was thick enough.  I was wrong.  It was still pretty runny.  At that point, I should have put it in the fridge to cool and walked away, but I didn’t.  That’ll come back to bite me later.

I tried cutting the beautiful cake (and by that I mean only-a-mother-could-love-it-beautiful) into thirds.  Wow…was that a disaster.  I had a half a cake, a lopsided 1/4 of a cake cut too thin on one side and a lopsided 1/4 of a top with a small hole where the dip of the concave surface was.  It looked like I had cut it with a chainsaw.  There were crumbs everywhere.  I wasn’t using my favorite long serrated bread knife, so that’s where it started going wrong and it didn’t improve.

I put the first layer down and put some custard on it.  It was thick…but not thick enough.  In fact, it was pretty runny, so it drooled down the side.

I put the jam in the middle–on a thicker layer of custard than it called for–which pushed even more custard over the side.  I put the next layer of cake on, then realized I was supposed to cover the jam with more custard!  Gaaaaah!

The next step said to mix the custard and whipped cream together, so I whipped up the heavy cream and mixed half of it with the rest of the custard.  I plopped half of that mixture onto the top of the cake.

I added the last layer of sponge–and boy, it was looking pretty rough–and put the rest of the custard/whippy stuff on top.  It was looking so sloppy, I decided it just needed to chill for a bit, so into the fridge it goes.  I put the rest of the whippy stuff into another bowl and put that in the fridge, too. I still have to make the marzipan topping, and that’s going to take some time…time that I don’t have more of that night.  Or patience.  Or energy.

The recipe also called for a little bit of fondant to make the decorative rose…they didn’t have it in the stores I went to.  I’m betting they have in the baking section at Michael’s, but I didn’t want to make a special trip for a single ingredient, so that is being omitted.  Maybe I’ll make a tiny bit of marshmallow fondant.  Or just drop a marshmallow on top.  Or a pink Peep.

With full intent on finishing it the next day, I forgot that there was a two-hour appointment at the orthodontist with the skinny boy, early release from school, karate, the lawn care guys, middle kid golf practice and then the dryer went belly up so I had to turn every piece of furniture into a drying rack.  I went ahead and sliced up the cake as-is.  The Big Kid took one bite and declared it “too sweet”.  The skinny boy said his face hurt from the new braces and wouldn’t try it.  I ate a slice.  It’s weird.  Sigh.

Now as things went along, and the more frustrated I got with myself, I decided to go back and watch the segment in that episode, and Paul says that this is a particularly difficult challenge, and one that these experienced (amateur) bakers struggled with.  For as ugly as this got, as things went more and more sideways, I decided I needn’t be so hard on myself.  I was, in fact, trying several new things and I did have some small successes.  And while I may end up throwing the rest of the cake away…which seems such a waste…at least I know that I will never ever bake one of these again.


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