Patisserie

Schichttorte: a German Layer Cake

Photo courtesy of the BBC

I couldn’t get anyone to eat the baklava I made…weirdos.  That second batch was pretty good!  Hopefully this fussy chocolate glazed layer cake will be a winner!  This looked like a very interesting challenge and I was kind of excited to try this.

I went to the BBC pages and found the recipe here.  Be prepared:  this is a 3-bowl batter.  You need to cream the butter and sugar.  Then you need to whisk the yolks.  And you need to whisk the whites.  THEN you put them together.  Unfortunately, I have one upright mixer and one bowl to go in it.  I pulled out a few other bowls to scrape the mixed batters into them, which worked fairly well, but it was kind of fussy.

Also, it calls for vanilla paste, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a thing.  For the 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste, you can use 1 tablespoon of vanilla flavoring.

Another note:  I have a double oven, however, one is a small oven that I use for cookies or casseroles, and a larger oven that is great for Dutch ovens and turkeys.  Both of them have broilers, but the top oven is too shallow and caused the first layer to burn.  Be sure to give your cake at least 4″ of space between the broiler and the cake.

I made the mistake of mixing the whites first, and they started to melt or separate by the time I got to that bit.  So, while it’s the easiest to clean out of the bowl, I wouldn’t recommend whisking those first.

So you mix the butter & sugar, add in the egg yolk mix, and then fold in the egg whites.

I greased and lined the tin, but I missed the rest of the tin preparation directions.  I put the first couple of layers into the tin and the paper burnt a little and curled away from the edges of the tin.

Not satisfied with that, after 2-3 layers, I took the tin apart and peeled off the paper.  The extra grease and flour would help keep the cake from sticking to the sides…but we’ll see how that goes.  (Post-script:  it turned out just fine.  If you want to use parchment paper, cut it a smidge smaller than the size of the tin bottom, and when you get ready to remove it from the tin, run a sharp, flexible, serrated steak knife around the edges, then open carefully.)

The directions aren’t as clear as they could be…in the show, one of the contestants actually calculated out how much batter should be in each layer.  She estimated 50 grams of batter per layer, so keep your digital scale handy!  It really is a tiny amount–just a couple spoonfuls.  Just spread it around carefully and evenly, then bake.  As the layers are baked, the heat will help melt it a bit, so it’ll be somewhat self-leveling.

I’m really excited about how this is turning out so far!  The cake is nice and tall and level (despite the oven being a bit tilted…I still need to fix that!).  Now that it’s completely cooled, I can make the chocolate glaze.  First, you have to brush the cake with jam.  They always recommend apricot.  Not sure why…however, other bakers suggest using a sugar syrup to increase moisture!  There’s an article about it here.  Totally worth reading.

You only need a couple tablespoons of apricot jam.  First you heat it up slightly to make it a bit runny.  You’re supposed to run it through a seive to get the lumps out, but…lazy.

Then you heat up the rum, vanilla and butter to boiling…just boiling.  Then you take it off the stove for 5 minutes, and then dump in the chocolate bits.  I forgot to wait.

Then you let it cool another 5 minutes or so…and pour it over the cake…

And carefully paint the sides…  I suppose you could double the recipe, have it ooze down the sides and still have plenty left over to puddle smoothly over the top.

And finally, you make a powdered sugar frosting–just add a splash of milk and vanilla–and put it into a decorating bag.  Or, if you do as I did, put it in a ziplock sandwich bag and poke a hole in the corner.  Unfortunately, one of the seams tore while squeezing it, so it oozed in funny designs.  Oh well!

The result:  a very dense, dry cake.  The middle was OK, but the further I got to the edge, the more chewy it got.  Definitely need some ice cream or a big glass of milk to go with it.  Maybe a mug of tea.  Or a pot.

The stripes are pretty, though.

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