Today I relaxed, then shopped for groceries, then cooked and cooked. We hosted my family for dinner to celebrate my sister's birthday and my brother's promotion at work. Earlier in the day, I described my culinary approach as alternately "swinging for the fences" and "throwing a Hail Mary" - like a Choose Your Own Sports Metaphor. I tried three new recipes at one dinner party, which is a supreme no-no, but two of the recipes on my list to try were Indian-inspired, which I thought would pair well together. And the third was chocolate cake. Enough said!
I really liked the Samosa Pie recipe - and it was my first time working with phyllo dough! THAT was fun! The daal with vegetables was okay, but I skipped 1) the four tablespoons of fresh coriander because I couldn't find it at the store and 2) the ancho chile, so the result was a little bland (and also more gray than advertised because it was sans fresh coriander!). I will try again when I can have those ingredients and also let the flavors mingle a little more leisurely on the stovetop.
But anyway, I think what you are really curious about is the cake report and not the looking-for-fresh-coriander-and-hemming-and-hawing-about-ancho report.
I found this recipe a long time ago on Bakerella and have been eyeing it ever since. This is definitely not a cake to be made for two people, so I decided to hold it for my sister's birthday.
It included buttercream. Lots. Of. Buttercream.
Ha! Poor little cake. One of the layers baked up unevenly, so I sawed off the top of the second layer to help even it out. Want to know what's good camouflage for a problem like that? Answer: BUTTERCREAM!
Through that recipe, I learned about the concept of a crumb coat, which means you frost a very thin layer over the whole cake, then put your project in the freezer for a few minutes. This forms a durable little coat that allows the rest of the buttercream to go on very smoothly and without crumbs. Thank you, Bakerella!
Oh, but first, I had to get the layer right.
There's the cake, post-crumb coat (and regular coat).
Last is the ganache - another cooking process that was new to me. That is surprisingly easy to do. I let it settle a little bit too long and it was too thick to do the gorgeous side-dripping thing that the cake on Bakerella did. But really: does the aesthetic of ganache really matter? Not really.
Here is my sis, modeling her new birthday snuggie and getting ready to blow out some candles. (That's Brother in the background.)
And here is the cake:
It was fun to work on, piece by piece. I'm glad it turned out and, setting all recipe talk aside, I'm extra-glad we could all be together to celebrate birthdays and good news. I am excited to see what 2012 and beyond holds for those siblings of mine.