Archive | Cake RSS feed for this section

Petit Four Your Thoughts!

13 Jun


This week on Dueling Bakers we decided to get a little fancy schmancy and create Petis Fours! On the surface, Petis Fours are super cute and girlie (like us!) but let’s learn a little history! Traditionally Petis Fours (singular: Petit Four) are small desserts, typically cake, eclairs, tarlets, etc. Petit Four is French for “small oven”. The name dates back to the 18th century when bakers would use the heat left over in brick ovens from baking large cakes to bake the small ones.

Petis Fours can also be broken down into two categories: sec and glacés. Petis Fours Sec refers to dry pastries such as biscuits, meringues, and macaroons. Once baked, these pastries rarely have anything extra added and are most often served with afternoon tea or ice cream. Petis Fours Glacés means iced and includes desserts such as cakes and eclairs. Petis Fours Glacés can be filled with cream or jam and may be iced or covered in fondant.

Whew! Now that the nerdy part is over, let’s get to our recipes!

The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

  • Moistness of cake – 10 points.
  • Flavor of cake – 15 points
  • Flavor of icing – 15 points
  • Flavor of filling – 10 points
  • Proportion of filling to cake – 10 points
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 10 points
  • Ease of eating – 10 points
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 20 points

It’s Andrea! Petis Fours are charming and delicate. I’m also of the opinion that anything in miniature is just plain fun! But to make them…that’s a different story. I decided to go with this recipe on Bakingdom. I thought these petis fours looked delicious and this was one of the easier recipes I found.

I made the chocolate sponge cake on Friday night and used the simple syrup to lock in moisture. The cake was simple enough and I had no issue with prep or baking.

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the petis fours until Sunday afternoon, but I hoped the simple syrup would do its job. This is also the point where the recipe got confusing. I would like to preface this by saying I read through the entire recipe several times before I started, but it wasn’t until I started the frosting/icing portions that I realized there was a problem.

I got confused by the author using both “frosting” and “icing” interchangeably, but for different aspects of the cake. (For example, “Spoon the icing over the tops of the cakes, allowing it to run down the sides. Spoon more frosting onto the sides, as needed”, when previously she used “frosting” to mean filling, and not the poured icing, “I chose to keep it simple with a vanilla frosting that I could also top the cake with…”). I ended up not making the vanilla buttercream, only the icing, or poured fondant.

I was under the impression that this was going to be the only icing/frosting used. After making it, I realized this couldn’t be the case. My icing was also really thin, which is a problem a few commenters also faced. I followed Darla’s advice to make it thicker and it improved it a little. I could only get the icing to adhere to the cake after 5 or 6 coats, which made the cake almost unbearably moist. It’s impossible to say how the buttercream would have affected the taste, due to the amount of icing I had to use. I would be afraid that the buttercream combined with the extra icing would be entirely way too sweet. I will say that these tasted very good, even if the texture was less than desirable.

Krista and I spoke at length about where either I or the recipe went wrong and decided to take all of the points away from the filling categories to compensate for the poorly written recipe.

  • Moistness of cake – 5/10 points- Way TOO moist.
  • Flavor of cake – 13/15 points- The flavor was actually pretty great.
  • Flavor of icing – 10/15 points- The icing wasn’t so good by itself, but it complimented the cake every well.
  • Flavor of filling – 0/10 points
  • Proportion of filling to cake – 0/10 points
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 7/10 points- I used all of the icing, but I also had to cover the cakes more times than the recipe called for.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points- No problems with them breaking or falling apart.
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 15/20 points- Obviously, recipes like this are going to be more time consuming, but I think this one would’ve gone a lot smoother had it been better written.

I think this is a decent recipe, but that it was poorly written. Different parts of the cake should consistently be called the same name to avoid confusion. For that reason, this recipe rated: 60/100.

Krista here and the recipe I chose was found here. I wanted to try the full-fledge- petit four recipe using frangipane cake because it was noted in several recipes I looked at as the type of cake used by “professional cake artisans”. They didn’t state how unbelievably almond this stuff was. Yuck-o for me, yum-o says hubs. I didn’t have any major issues with recipe- the person who wrote this apparently was a lot more capable of sharing recipes.

Almond paste- weird stuff that is. It came in a can and it was in 4 little columns in the can. The recipe was pretty simple after the strange ingredients, except that it was in ounces. Not really a problem, but most recipes will show cup/tablespoon/teaspoon ratios instead of ounces.

  • Moistness of cake – 9/10 The cake was very moist- but it was dense which is different from other types of petis fours I have had in the past
  • Flavor of cake – 12/15 points It was very almondy, which it was supposed to be but it’s too much in my opinion.
  • Flavor of icing – 13/15 points The icing is basically just powdered sugar in glaze form- it’s not bad, but it’s not anything to write home about.
  • Flavor of filling – 9/10 points I used a red raspberry jam for the filling and it went well with the cake.
  • Proportion of filling to cake – 9/10 points It was plenty to compliment the cake and add a different flavor.
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points Plenty of icing, even had some left over.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points Pop ’em in and chew! Done. 🙂
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 16/20 points For an intense recipe this wasn’t so bad. The almond paste was the weirdest part but there wasn’t anything crazy past that. The icing texture changed each time I had to heat it to get it ready for glaze so that is really where the points were lost.

Over all the thing I would change would be the cake. Next time I will make yellow, white or sponge cake for these guys but will probably still use the same glaze just make it in smaller batches to avoid the texture issues toward the end. This cake rated: 87.

Advertisements

Sweet & Tart: Not us, the cakes!

21 May

For our first duel, we decided to make cakes incorporating the flavors of lemon and berry- perfect for the beginning of summer!

The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

    • Moistness of cake – 10 points
    • Flavor of cake – 15 points
    • Flavor of icing – 15 points
    • Lemon flavor – 15 points
    • Berry flavor – 15 points
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 10 points
    • Ease of eating – 10 points
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 10 points

with each cake able to earn a maximum of 100 points.

Andrea here! I was so excited for this first duel because I love lemon and berries together! Sonic’s lemon-berry slush, anyone?? As soon as I found this recipe by Beantown Baker, I knew it was the one for me. This recipe is more involved than ones I typically make, but it looked SO good; I was up for the challenge!

First I made the raspberry curd. I used frozen berries and it couldn’t have been simpler to make. I love this stuff and want to slather it on everything! The consistency is very smooth. It is pourable and not really thick at all.

Next I made the cake and while it was baking, the icing! The cake recipe said to mix the lemon zest with the sugar, which I had never done before, but was fabulous. So fragrant and there’s not many things better than the smell of fresh lemons!

Finished cake!

And now for the judging!

  • Moistness of cake – 9/10 points
  • Flavor of cake – 15/15 points – Perfect amount of lemon flavor.
  • Flavor of icing – 13/15 points – Classic buttercream, delicious.
  • Lemon flavor – 15/15 points – PERFECT, I say!
  • Berry flavor – 12/15 points – The curd alone was fantastic, but the cake needed more.
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points – I had at least a cup of icing left over.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points – Cut nicely, didn’t fall apart at all.
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 4/10 points – This recipe wasn’t hard, but there were a lot of steps.

Total points for this recipe: 87. This cake was delicious and very well received!

It also doubled as a birthday cake 🙂

Let’s see how Krista’s recipe fared!

Hey there! Krista here and I have *finally* finished my cake! I used this recipe from Sweetapolita. My hubs is a big lime fan and one of his favorite things I have made to date is a lime blueberry cheesecake. All week these blueberries have been mocking him and in turn, he’s been harassing me that maybe I should just do the lime blue berry cheesecake and call it a day…. men.

I made the curd two days prior and it was fairly simple (see here). Martha Stewart is crazy, amazing- but crazy. I stuck the eggs in a strainer like the recipe called for and guess what… they were still there, whites and all, when I came back to it several minutes later. 😐 So I stuck the eggs back in their shells and sorted them that way. After the straining failure everything else went smoothly and was actually pretty simple. First experience with curd and I can’t complain. Sweetapolita doubled the curd for her filling but I just did one batch- I also forgot to put it in the cake but I’ll get to that in a minute. It is fairly thick but still pourable- more chunks than a free flowing liquid.

Cake prep/baking- the recipe could not be simpler and the baking time is fairly quick. The cake does not rise very much. I have 4″ deep pans and the recipe called for 3 pans so I had issues dividing the batter- hence why we have the puny layer in the middle here.

As I stated I forgot the curd at home, we had went to visit my dad so decided to serve the cake there. Icing was used for filling as a stand in. When we made the icing we had no mixer so it is doable to make with a fork. The icing crusted well and I was pretty pleased with the stability/spreadability. HOWEVER, the taste was far-far-far too sweet. Icing that’s too sweet? True story. Mixed with the lemon/berry it made the lemon flavor of the cake very weak (and I shorted the blue berries by 3/4 cup so that should tell you something). Overall the cake was fairly dense but also moist and held up to stacking well. I probably wont pair this icing with this cake again, they fought for flavor and the icing attacked full-force.

Here is the finished cake:

It was pretty cute and I loved the pops of color. Here is the rating:

  • Moistness of cake – 8/10 points  The density did it no favors in this line.
  • Flavor of cake – 13/15 points – I cut the blue berries by 3/4 cup and they still were a stronger part than the lemon.
  • Flavor of icing – 10/15 points –  10 seems harsh but the only real positive points I found would be that smoothed and spread easily. The taste is too lemony and it is too sweet. It over powers the cake instead of complimenting it.
  • Lemon flavor – 14/15 points – All together- loads of lemon- but it doesn’t allow any other flavors to exist.
  • Berry flavor – 10/15 points – The cake by itself was great, even though the berries were whole they still integrated themselves into the recipe quite well. In hindsight I wish I had went with a berry curd… but then I would have forgot it anyway and it wouldn’t have mattered until I got home to slather it on.
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points – Since I used the icing for the filling I had no icing left over- had I used the curd it would have been a cup or so too much.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points – cut cleanly and was easy to serve…
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 9/10 points – This is nearly the easiest recipe I’ve ever made as far as cakes go, the curd was simple after I gave up hopes of straining eggs (someone enlighten me on this) and the icing was made with a fork so that is pretty easy.
Total points= 83. The cake was okay, the curd was good but the icing was too much. I would rather pair this with a simple cream cheese butter cream.
The cake also doubles as Pacman! 🙂 -Krista

What is your favorite lemon and berry combination?