Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yuletide season - Blackforest Log Cake

'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la. Christmas is here. Season of feasting and being merry in the company of loved ones and friends. But it is also a time to remember that our saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, came down to earth to give us light and hope. This Christmas, we are invited by Candy and her family to her home for dinner - Taiwanese braised pork rice (卤肉饭), her specialty. There are four families here and all our hubbies were army friends. We always look forward to meeting up with each other, together with all our kids. But as our kids grow up to become teenagers, I bet our future gathering will be just the adults. As the baker, it's always my pleasure to bake a log cake to add to the atmosphere.

This is my second attempt at baking a log cake. The first one was about 2 to 3 years back. Cake tasted good but decoration was very amateurish. I decided on a blackforest log cake as it's one of my favourites. The cake base is a chocolate cloud roll recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible Book. No flour and butter being used at all. Just eggs, sugar and chocolate. It's so light that it just melts in your mouth and it must be a treat for those who are watching their calories. The filling is light whipped chocolate frosting with burgundy cherries and the cake is finally dressed up with dark chocolate ganache. With the beautiful, little Christmas ornaments adorning the cake and a sprinkling of the snow powder over the cake, the feeling of white Christmas is in the air.

Recipe (Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
(A) Light whipped chocolate filling
76g bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
155g heavy cream
  1. Put the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the heavy cream up to the boiling point and pour it over the chopped chocolate.
  3. Stir the mixture gently until the chocolate is incorporated into the cream.
  4. Refrigerate it for at least 5 hours or overnight.
  5. Remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. It will continue to thicken after a few minutes at room temperature.
(B) Dark Chocolate Ganache
204g bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely **
231g heavy cream
1 tbsp Cognac or Rum
** Use your favourite semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with 53% cocoa mass. If using a higher percentage cocoa mass, increase the heavy cream slightly.
  1. Put the chopped chocolate into a big bowl.
  2. Heat the heavy cream up to the boiling point and pour it over the chopped chocolate.
  3. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes before using a rubber spatula to stir it gently in concentric circles from the inside to the outside.
  4. Gently stir in the cognac or rum and let the mixture to cool for several hours at room temperature until of frosting consistency.
(C) Chocolate Cloud Roll
48g castor sugar
4 large eggs, separated
75g bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4g unsweetened cocoa powder
Some blackforest cherries for the filling
Grease and line a 12" x 10" jelly-roll pan with a nonstick liner or foil (extending slightly over the sides), and then greased again and floured.
Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat 32g of sugar and the egg yolks for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the melted chocolate and beat until incorporated, scrapping down the sides.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 16g sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.
  4. With a large ballon whisk, slotted skimmer, or rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading evenly with a spatula, and bake for about 16 minutes. The cake will have puffed up and lost its shine and will spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.
  6. Wet a clean dish towel and wring it out well.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it in the pan. Dust with the cocoa powder and cover immediately with the damp towel.
  8. Allow the cake to cool.
  9. Remove the towel and, lifting by a long edge of the liner or foil overhang, gently slide the cake from the pan onto a flat surface.
  10. Spread the whipped chocolate filling on the cake and spread the cherries evenly over the chocolate filling. Roll up the cake, using the liner or foil for support and gently peeling away as you go.
  11. Chill it for at least an hour.
Assemble the cake
  1. Cut a diagonal slice from one end of the roll and place on top to form a knot.
  2. Spread the ganache frosting all over the log and use the tines of a fork to make lines resembling bark. Make a few round swirls with the fork on top of the knot.
  3. Decorate with the christmas ornaments and sprinkle some snow powder over it.
  4. Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving.

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