Monthly Archives: April 2015

Black Forest Cake part 2: Everything else


Once the Genoise was cooled, I made cake syrup and chocolate shavings (sort of). Cake syrup is just 50% sucrose plus flavorings. The recipe calls for 50% syrup an 50% Kirsch. We didn’t have Kirsch and Texas doesn’t sell anything over 17% alcohol on Sundays, so I used some Frambois we had around.

The recipe calls for a half recipe of his 8 oz water version… and that is still way too much. In the end, probably half a cup is more than enough.

I managed to bisect the cake with a serrated knife. Then, due to lactose intolerance, I used Cool Whip instead of real whipped cream (sacrilege, I know). It turns out that Kraft started adding milk and cream to Cool Whip a while ago, so eating this will still require lactaid tablets, but the cream is less than 2% of the total, based on the ingredients. In other words < 2% is cream, casein, plus other stuff.

I forgot to take a pic of the middle layer of Cool Whip plus frozen sour cherries in a hexagonal array. First we brushed on some of the Frambois/Syrup solution, then a later of Cool Whip. Cherries were embedded. Then we put on the top layer put on and moistened it further. Leaving a lot of leftover syrup. Cool Whip all over the outside and then decorate. I don’t have a cake wheel, so we just balanced the cake (still on the springform bottom) on an inverted bowl.

We tried to make the chocolate shavings using this method. But we probably overcooled the chocolate and also didn’t make it thin enough. When I went to scrape it into curls, the whole sheet came off in one piece. So I broke it up into pieces for the central chocolate “forest”. Maraschino cherries around the rim. Not as fancy as Joe’s, but not bad looking for someone who rarely makes cakes. Into the fridge at about 7PM.

We had it for dessert. Pretty good… needed more sour cherries in the middle layer.

Black Forest Cake part 1: Chocolate Génoise

Debby’s father’s birthday is coming up and one of her sisters is visiting. We decided to be overly ambitious and make a chocolate cake. Not content with just making a cake (I’m usually more of a pie person), I decided that Joe Pastry’s Black Forest Cake looked good. It starts with his Chocolate Génoise

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3.5 ounces (3/4 cup) cake flour
0.75 ounces (1/4 cup) Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, room temperature
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The basic idea is to make an egg foam and fold in the dry ingredients. Note that there is no other leavening! The first problem is figuring out how to do the eggs. There are two issues from using Joe’s recipe.

  • I don’t have a stand mixer, which is not a big deal. But I need to figure out the appropriate volume container to use. It seems like typical stand mixer bowls are 4.5-5 quarts. On the other hand, the whole thing is going to fit into a 9″ springform pan. First discovery: the springform pan is not watertight enough to empirically measure its volume. So let’s calculate: 2.8 in h x 3.14 x 4.5 in ^2 =  178 in^3 = 12.3 cups, which is sort of consistent with this site, which gives 12 cups as the volume for 2 regular 9 in cake pans. But I assume we’re not going to fill the pan to the rim.
  • The related problem is how to heat the mixture without cooking it. This depends on what the container will fit in! Joe puts his mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water to heat the eggs, and monitors the temperature while whipping.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a stick blender, so I used this as a chance to get the Cuisinart Smart Stick with a whisk attachment.

Note to self: melting butter in the microwave is not a good idea.

My solution to the egg beating was to use my Anova Precision Cooker to  hold a water bath at 115°F. The Anova is nice for this compared to my older Nomiku because it can work in a shallower water bath.

The pic shows the setup about halfway through the beating of the egg-sugar mixture. It ended up increasing in volume another inch or so… if I do this again I need a larger bowl.

I mixed about a cup of the egg foam with the melted butter and then transferred the whole thing to a larger bowl. I gently whisked in the flour and cocoa, leaving a few irregularities.

After pouring the batter into the pan (another new purchase!), I noticed that I had not put parchment on the sides. Hmm… too late to fix, and it’s a nonstick pan. Baked for 30 min at 375. Toothpick came out clean. Done at about 5PM on Sunday afternoon.

I did the double flip with parchment onto the cooling rack as described in Joe’s post, but I’m not sure why I needed to get the lower parchment out… his photo looks like the cake is back onto the lower panel of the springform pan.

Comparing my cake to his pictures, mine looks a bit more like the bottom of a cone. The sides came away from the walls of the pan, making the cake a bit narrower at the top than at the bottom. I wonder if this is related to the lack of wall parchment.

But I’m happy with how it came out – i.e. not collapsed – and it smells amazing.

Ethernet weirdness

Not what I usually think of as wireless internet

Yes, the connected light is green and showing “connected” for my display ethernet even though the display is unplugged. And even when it’s plugged in my computer only connects to the net via the backup wifi while in my office. The jack on the wall and the cable are OK, because they work with an older laptop with a direct connect ethernet jack.

Going to have to try this.

Update: that seems to have worked! Adding details so Google might find it for those with similar problems… it seems that something in the network configuration was corrupted. The info at the link suggested

  • Remove Display Ethernet from the System Preferences from the gui
  • Unplug the display
  • delete /Library/Preferences/NetworkInterfaces.plist (using sudo… I used mv instead of rm to move it to my home directory, just in case
  • reboot
  • plug the display back in.
  • Add back the configs to the gui version of Network Preferences

I found that in doing this I had to reenter the info for my manual IP configuration and DNS servers. But now I can connect again via the ethernet from my office.

Serious Eats pie crust

Lately I’ve been using Kenji Alt-Lopez’ Easy Pie Crust recipe from Serious Eats. Posting here will help find the link and preserve the very minor modifications I’ve made.  The original calls for using 2/3 of the 12.5 oz of flour in the first step. This is ridiculously precise, so I’m just doing the weighing of the flour in two steps instead of one. That’s the only modification.

  • Weigh 8 oz flour into the food processor. Add 2 T sugar and 1 t NaCl. Pulse to mix
  • Add 2.5 sticks of cold butter cut into chunks. Pulse in thoroughly (about 25 pulses)
  • Transfer to a bowl. Add 4.5 oz flour. Cut in with a pastry cutter or silicon spatula
  • Mix in 0.375 c ice water (6 T)