Friday, July 10, 2015

Midweek Roundup: "A Cake With All the Fireworks"

Photo by Orin
Orin's Goodies

This cheesecake is a multi-element, super-rich, elegant and beautiful show-stopper.  Some of us went all out on this one.  And some of us just kvetched.

Orin is one of those who went all-out.  She was determined to get a red cake without using red food coloring, so she went in her cupboard containing elixirs and powders, and took out her beet powder. Nope.  She ended up with a brown cake.  Then she put on her thinking cap, and decided it was the baking powder and heat that were to blame for changing the red batter to brown cake.  So she baked a second cake, this time using a sponge cake recipe with no soda or powder.  Voila--a beet-red cake made with beet powder.  She also picked 18 pounds of blueberries (not all of them used for this cake).  Then she cut, trimmed, coddled, and smoothed, and came up with the cake pictured above.  She and her tasters all had a hard time "putting their forks down."

By the way, to broaden the appeal of this cake, we shouldn't limit it to American Independence Day.  Why not declare a new holiday for former British Colonies, which would include not only the U.S., but also Australia, Canada, and Singapore! We can decide what colors to use for this holiday after we name it and decide when it is.

Milagritos fudged on three of the four elements:  instead of the red velvet cake, she used a seeded cookie base; instead of Dreamy, Creamy, etc., she used a browned white chocolate ganache; instead of blueberries, she used raspberries.  But she was true to the cheesecake, and oh, what a cheesecake!  "This is the smoothest cheesecake I've ever tasted!  Not only that, this cheesecake is invitingly tangy and savoury in the most complimentary way...not to mention very, very easy to make and bake.  Not one crack on its surface!  I have never made such an easy cheesecake which also happens to be easy on the eyes and the tastebuds."

Mendy called the cheesecake "wonderful," although he had a quibble about the lemon juice that was "sneaked into" the cake.  He used the same springform pan for both red velvet and cheesecake, and didn't have to trim to get them even.  He also suggested baking the cheesecake first, so it could be cooling while the other components are being made.  Mendy often includes photos of one or more of his charming kidlets, and it's been fun to watch them grow during the last six or seven years!  In fact, I guess I'll soon have to stop thinking of them as kidlets.

Jen, who has no pictures this time of her kidlet, says this about the cake:  "It sounds like a lot of steps and dirty dishes and pains in the asses, and it is.  But when you start eating your slice of cake, or when you cut it open to reveal the stunning layers and your friends ooh and aah, then you will find yourself thinking about when you'll make it again."  Jen highly recommends using El Rey's Icoa White Chocolate ("better than Valrhona").  (I now think of this as Evil Cake Lady's Ikea Chocolate, so I hope I'll recognize it when I see it).

Kristina made her cheesecake blue, white, and blue (yes, a "blue velvet" cake) for her birthday because she doesn't celebrate American Independence Day.  (But Kristina, just wait until next year's Former Colonies Day!).  Despite almost forgetting to put the egg yolks in the cheesecake, she said that everything turned out hunky-dory.  "Verdict:  Delicious.  I would totally make this again.  It made a great birthday cake, and disappeared pretty quickly."

Joan says she baked the "Fourth of Jolee" cake for her friend Jolee, whose birthday is on July 4 (or is it Jolee 4?), and a stunning cake it is, sitting on a mirrored table, being gazed at by a regal-looking cat.  Joan saved the blueberries to put on the cake just before serving, so you can see pictures of both a red and white cake, as well as the red, white, and blue.  Please welcome Joan back in the fold.  She took a brief respite from the group, but missed the group baking, and, of course, we missed her.  And if any of you others who felt they needed to drop out because of time or work issues, you're always welcome back when your life permits you to be an active baker again.

Rachel, one of our newest bakers, was amazingly quick to get on the schedule and make the Fourth of July cheesecake.  Rachel baked without having the advantage of just having done the Red Velvet cake, and her cake turned out less of a brilliant red than she was expecting--probably, she thought, because she didn't use bleached flour.  Rachel loves Rose's "fanatical art-through-science approach to baking."  Rose should love her appreciation of "art through science," although I'm not sure about the "fanatic" part.  Please take a look at Rachel's blog if you get a chance this week, and welcome her to the group.  Rachel has already learned why Rose insists on white chocolate with cocoa butter--Rachel picked up some good white chocolate, but also tried grocery-store chips without cocoa butter.  No comparison, she discovered:  the inferior chips were like "smooth, sweet chalk."  Not too appetizing.

When Faithy first made the red velvet cake a few weeks ago, she was a food coloring snob.  No way was she going to use a completely artificial, possibly carcinogenic chemical for her family and friends.  Unfortunately, the beetroot juice she used instead gave her a boring beige color, and Boring Beige Velvet just doesn't work as a name for a cake.  This time she threw caution to the winds and dumped in a full bottle of red food coloring, resulting in a cake that "is just WOW?"  "The cheesecake melts in the mouth and pairs perfectly ... with the red velvet....  Blueberries clean richness off the cheese and refresh the tastebuds.  I clearly forgot about the red food coloring in the red velvet....  I ate up every last crumb!"  Faithy had only one question:  "Rose, how do you make such a perfect cheesecake?"  Sometimes, you just have to go with the chemicals.

Even though Catherine made a red, white, and brown cake, she was still crazy about it, especially the cheesecake.  Catherine clearly doesn't know about the Former Colonies Day that we are inventing, or she would understand that red, white, and brown might end up being the colors of this holiday.  Like everyone else, Catherine had nothing but praise for Rose's brilliant cheesecake recipe.  "The real gem of this recipe is the cheesecake.  I hadn't made one of Rose's baked cheesecakes before and I was impressed with the ultra creamy texture and light lemony flavour."  If there were such a thing as a Nobel prize for cheesecake, I guess we all know who would come home with the blue ribbon.

Anna was one of us who didn't go all-out, yet who still ended up with a magnificent cheesecake.  Anna claims that she did everything in a hurry, and "just haphazardly frosted the cheesecake and tossed the blueberries on quickly."  If this is true, it makes you wonder why you should bother to be super-careful and methodical since the "haphazard" cake looks wonderful, or "incredible," in Anna's words.  Anna just added two extra tablespoons of cocoa to make the cake darker and more chocolate-y, so the red velvet is more of a reddish brown than brilliant red.  But how can "more chocolate flavor" be a bad thing?

To summarize Vicki's cheesecake, I'll just open with her own opening words:  "This is the most sublimely decadent cheesecake I have ever had the pleasure to taste....  Rose upped the standard by which all other cheesecakes can be judged."  (Nobel judges, are you paying attention?)  Vicki also insists that this is a very easy dessert to make.  Because of the sawing and measuring and various upside-downing, I'm not completely sure I'd go with easy, but I'll agree that it's less frightening than it first appears.

If you just looked at the pictures of Jeniffer's yummy-looking individual cheesecakes, you won't understand why she says, "I was sad, they were bad," until you realize that the bad "they" is out-of-season blueberries.  Blueberries that are both bitter and tasteless, with an "I accidentally ate a garden weed" aftertaste.  Since I have yet to see a dessert described as "tasting like fresh garden weeds," I think I understand the sadness.  Fortunately, the bad blueberries weren't enough to completely take away from the "amazing" cheesecake, "rich yet light in texture."  Jeniffer, if you make the blue-elderberry pie, maybe you should use frozen blueberries.

This recipe really inspired Michele.  She pretty much followed the directions, except that her twists and turns were just a little bit different than those in the recipe.  But she actually trimmed the cake with a razor; although she said it was an "annoying" step, she still did it.  And she really made magic with her Dreamy, Creamy etc. icing.  "Reverse shells" (I can't even do shells in drive), and Roses--her cake looks like the kind of thing that if you saw it in a bakery window, you'd do an about-face and go inside and buy it.  Unless you knew Michele.  Then you'd just ask her to make one for you and count yourself among the lucky ones.

In addition to Joan and Rachel, who have already blogged, there is a blog address for another new baker, Susan, and hopefully she'll be able to make next week's project.  Aimee, the other new baker, is still working on her blog, but maybe you'll be able to read her post next week.

And, by the way, next week is something completely different, something from the Quick &
Easy list, Molasses Crumb Cakelets.  They look plain and easy and brown, not red.


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  2. You're on fire this week, Marie - just hilarious! I'm all for Former Colonies Day. Congrats Orin, your cake is just perfect.

  3. Thank you Marie, it was a real fun making this cake. I think it's a great idea to have a Former Colonies Day, include Israel into this holiday too....since,the British mandate Israel ( Palestina back than ) from 1920-1945...small world... Have a great weekend!

  4. Hmm, I thought I commented maybe I commented on another alpha bakers site… the comment for here? Lol anyhow … I'm impressed Orin went blueberry picking and yes, Marie I'll be using frozen blueberries for the pie :) ---- Jeniffer

  5. That's about the most perfect picture of cheesecake that I've ever seen. I guess because I skipped all the sawing part and found my pan sizes fit each other well, it was easier. So fun to read everyone's experience making such an incredible dessert. Good Round Up; always entertaining to read.