When I saw this weeks cake I thought,  here we go again, another gimmicky cake with yet another specialty pan.  Then, the more I thought about it I decided that maybe I should give these pans a try.  Surely there has to be a few of them out there that I would use more than once.  These little mini bundt type pans looked like I could probably find several uses for and as I looked further along in the book I saw several more uses for them.  It was decided, I would get these little pans.  We have several cookware and baking stores here in San Diego as well as the usual assortment of department and specialty stores and I thought surely I wouldn’t have any problem getting them.  Boy was I wrong.  Every day after work for a week I went from store to store looking for these pans and absolutely no one had them.  I couldn’t even find any of those regular little mini bundt pans that were the right size.  Store after store with nothing but blanks stares and shaking heads from bewildered sales people as I walked out cursing everything from Mom’s Apple Pie to the Tournament of Roses Parade.  I just couldn’t believe it, I finally decide to change my ways and give in to this specialty pan mania and what happens, I can find the blasted pan.  I did however find a silly pan that was supposed to look like a cupcake.  It looked to me like it would produce a cake that would weigh about 15 pounds and look like a cookie jar.  I can’t imagine ever wanting to own one of those.  No offense to all of you out there who already have one.  I am sure you will find some use for it.  I then tried online for these mini pans and while I found a few that would work, no one could guarantee that they could ship me the pans in time for me to bake the cakes by the weekend.  So I was back to cursing my mom’s pie when I started to notice all this mini and specialty mania going on all around me. 

I went to the grocery store to buy some bagels and found that I could buy a bag of 50 of Sara Lee’s mini bagels or I could get Thomas’ Bagel Thins which looked like regular bagels that had been run over by a steam roller but I couldn’t get regular bagels.  What was this all about?  I finally had to go to Einstein Brothers bagels and pay three times the price just to get a regular bagel for my breakfast.  I went to the coffee shop with some friends and found that I could get a super mini muffin with (of course) mini chocolate chips or I could get a muffin top the size of a jet engine but I couldn’t  just get a regular muffin.  Well, I was back to cursing mom’s pie again and it finally dawned on me that there was no reason that I had to make these silly little cakelettes as Rose calls them.  It is after all, only cake batter, I can make a regular cake out of it.  And that is what I intended to do.  I did however want to make it look nice so I went home and searched my cupboards for something that I already had that would make a nice presentation. I thought I could use my charlotte mold but it wasn’t quite the right size, then I thought about that financier pan that I bought a few weeks back that was the wrong size for the financiers. It was the wrong size for these things as well.  I thought I could use these darling little “mini” loaf pans that I saw at Dehillerin in Paris and absolutely had to have (and which, by the way, I have never used).   Again, the wrong size.  Then it hit me, my Christmas pudding mold would be perfect.  I know what your thinking, for a guy who constantly complains about specialty pans, what the heck is he doing with a Christmas pudding mold.  Well, I love steamed pudding and believe it or not I actually use this thing many times throughout the year.  As a matter of fact, it is gettng a bit well worn and it’s probably time for me to retire it and get a new one.  So, it was solved, I was making a single large cake and using my beloved steamed pudding mold.  I was off and baking.

Now that the pan ordeal was over I actually read what this cake was supposed to be about.  Coffee.  I love coffee desserts.  There is just something so down to earth and satisfying about them.  As a child I loved coffee ice cream (still do).  It always seemed like I was eating something forbidden since I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee.  I could never figure it out why I could eat the ice cream but not drink the coffee.  Parents were full of inconsistencies like that.  It wasn’t until years later when I could actually drink coffee that I discovered that the two things tasted nothing alike and figured my parents had once again pulled the wool over my eyes.  At any rate, this cake sounded down right good.

The dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt are mixed and then oil, egg yolks, coffee essence and vanilla are added then  mixed.  The egg whites are beaten and then sugar is added and they are whipped into a stiff meringue.  The meringue is folded into the coffee mixture and then the batter is poured into the pan (or mini pans if you were lucky enough to find them).  Mine baked for 30 minutes at 325 degrees in my convection oven.  When done the pan is inverted onto a rack to cool.

While the cake was baking I made the Kahlua syrup.  Sugar and water are combined until disolved and then brought to the boil, covered and removed from the heat until cool.  When cool, coffee essence and Kahlua is stirred in.  The cake is then brushed with this heavenly mixture. 

To make the Dulce de Leche, sweetened condensed milk is poured into a pie pan which is placed in a bain marie and baked for 1 1/2 hours or until thick and caramel colored.  I was totally convinced that I would go off and start doing something else and forget about this until it was so blackened that it was probably half way to being a diamond by the time I retrieved it from the oven,  but all turned out fine and it was really good.  Then the Dulce de Leche is whipped with heavy cream into a most mouth watering froth.  I couldn’t get over how much I liked this whipped cream.  I am making it all the time from now on.

Ready for the oven

The unmolded cake

The decorated cake

In spite of its gimmicky name this cake is terrific.   And trust me, it is just as good as a single large cake so through out those mini things and make a great big one.   I do have to admit that all that syrup made my tall cake slump a bit but I think it looked fine and it tasted fantastic so no complaints from this corner.  Enjoy

Next Up:  Saint Honore Triffle

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