Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kit Kat cake and a bit of cheating


I'm going to cheat this time. No, no, I've baked this alright, that's not what I meant. I meant, I haven't really taken this photograph. My friend NC (who I sometimes like to pretend is my lawyer) took this from his Android. Samsung maybe? I don't know.

Anyhoo, my friend Shawooo from college was in town early last month, this was made in her honour. I wanted to make her something pretty, especially since she's left me and gone of to Dubai with her husband. Now I have nothing to do on the weekends. And now that Holi's nearly here, no one to drink bhaang with either.

The cake took me a lot less time to put together than I anticipated. Plus I didn't want to make it very sugary since the Kit Kat's were really the star and they were sweet already.

It's got my favourite chocolate cake - Dorie Greenspan's Devil's food cake - because it isn't very sweet and has quite a depth to it. And instead of frosting of any kind, I made a pastry cream. You know the ones you fill in tarts or eclairs. Again not too sweet or sickly, just a deep chocolaty melt-in-the-mouth kind of texture. Also this doesn't make a very high cake, which is really necessary because you'll kill the effect otherwise.

 It was a good call. The cake turned out light, moist and quite velvety and you could eat the Kit kat at any point of the dessert course.

The only thing that flummoxed me was that this cake needed a lot of the Gems or M 'n' Ms. I used 10 packets. I could easily have used another 5. Also you needed the ribbon, otherwise the Kit Kats wouldn't stay put.

 Ignore the santas, I think I'd run out of clean mats and had to switch to my Xmas collection.


Kit Kat Cake

Serves 12

For the Cake
Adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Available in India and US


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
142 gms (10 tablespoons) of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
60 gms bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
120 gms semisweet,  finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips


GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
TO MAKE THE CAKE: Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. At this point, the batter will be thick, like frosting. Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Don't worry if the tops have a few small cracks. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
When you are ready to fill and frost the cake, inspect the layers. If the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them.


For the pastry cream 
Adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Available in India and US

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 sugar
3 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted
200 grams bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 ½ tablespoon butter, cut into bits, at room temperature


Bring the milk to a boil in small saucepan or in a microwave oven.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch, salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stop, drizzle in about ¼ cup of the hot milk-this will temper, or warm, the yolks-then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly, and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil-still whisking-for 1 to 2 minutes, then pull the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla melted chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until the butter is fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool the custard quickly-put the bowl with the pastry cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the custard occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.



For the decoration

40 Kit Kat single sticks (10 x 4 packets)
10 packets of Gems/ M 'n'M
1 long ribbon

To assemble:


Put the first layer of cake at the bottom of your cake tray. Brush it with a mild sugar and cocoa syrup. I added a splash of white chocolate liquor to the mix to give it another layer.
Add about 1/3 of your pastry cream and layer with the second layer on the top.  Frost the top of the cake with the remaining 2/3 of the pastry cream. You may think it's a bit to little, but trust me, it's just perfect.Let it dry for 10 minutes. 
Break the Kit Kats in twos or ones, whatever is easier. Stick it to the pastry cream as close you can to each of the sticks. Wrap around with a ribbon at the earliest, so that it retains shape.
Strew the coloured candies across the cake. And refrigerate till serving.

While the cake's good for two days, the Gems/ M 'n' Ms do start running colour. So eat ASAP.





I think it was a hit. At least Shawooo (who took this photo) loved it.

Lax? Limbo? Or just plain lazy?

I've always been afraid of photographs. Of being in them. Of taking them. What if the lighting is all wrong? What if it looks ugly? What if nobody wants to ever eat what I make?
Maybe that's why it's taken me more than two years to write this first post. My friend N first created this blog for me in 2010, but I've been afraid. Very afraid. What if I run out of things to say? What if I lose my ability to cook? Is cooking like swimming or driving? What if I forget to post? What if I can't spell?
 
Just too many what ifs...

But after being stuck in a limbo for so many months (nearly 23!) , I've decided to conquer my fear. I will blog. I will try, atleast. If I fail, I'll take a photography class or buy an SLR.

And March is a great baking month for me. So many birthday cakes to bake. So many brunches to host. So many people to feed. So I think I'll be fine. At least this month.

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