Monday, March 8, 2010

Heavenly Cake Bakers: Chocolate Apricot Roll with Lacquer Glaze

When I took on the Heavenly Cakes, I knew it wasn't going to be all bundts and lemon syrup.
This week, the cake complexity took a wild leap and landed in the weeds of roulades, glazes, and all kinds of ways to beat chocolate with sugar--the Chocolate Apricot Roll with Lacquer glaze. This was also the first cake I've made at the bakery, where I've grown very comfortable baking bread, but had to learn my way around all over again in the sweet department.

The main trick of this cake is the separate creation of a number of parts, and then the perfectly timed assembly of said elements. It takes time, and some dexterity, and I have only a partial measure of each, so there were some errors. The final product, while very delicious and more or less elegant, could be improved by a few simple fixes that I learned as I went--too late for this time, but now I know. I don't know why I would expect anything so complicated to come out perfectly the first time.  My main flaw was probably impatience--at the bakery, my time is sometimes limited, and even when it isn't, I have no distractions to help me let things take their time, and often an incentive to clear a surface or finish a job quickly. As you'll see, these factors may have led me to rush this cake a bit.

This cake. This cake began with my first biscuit (bis-KWEE) roulade, a soft, flat sponge cake made on a half-sheet pan. The recipe was simple, although it has several steps. The biscuit is an eggy, butterless cake made with egg whites as the main leavener. There's plenty of whipping and folding, and at last it's all spread onto a lined half-sheet and baked very briefly. I'm still a bit unsure of what the bakery convection ovens will do to cooking times and browning, and I wound up taking the cake out after only 5 minutes of the recommended 8, because it was browned and seemed resilient. I might thus have slightly underbaked it, but only slightly, as the convection fans are powerful. However, I attribute any lack of firm height it later displayed to this underbake, and to a slight undercooling, I may not have let it take all of the time it needed as I needed to leave the bakery and get to my internship.

The ganache, too, lacked time to take its sweet time, because although I had intended to make it first, I had to leave it until second because I found I didn't know where the valve was on the stove in the bakery, and had to wait until Lily came in to show me (I'd guessed properly, but didn't want to take any chances).
Still, everything was looking pretty good as I worked my way through the five pages of the recipe. The apricot ganache went smoothly (I threw in a tablespoon of apricot filling instead of apricot brandy, and then I assembled the naked roll. Here, because I didn't let everything properly take its time, is where I believe the cake got a little squashed down and the ganache flowed as much as spread. I didn't make my own levkar, opting instead to use some stiff apricot filling that Lily had on hand, slightly moistened with water. The rolling was a little uneven, because the ganache was still flowing a bit, so the filling didn't end up entirely even, but it worked, a layer of apricot jam, a layer of ganache, roll that puppy up. I was impressed by how easily the soft cake rolled, as I'd always feared that would be the most difficult part of a roulade. I wasn't really thinking, though, of how close it is in nature to a crepe or pancake, which of course rolls easily.

At this point, I left my somewhat lumpy creation in the refrigerator, went to go catalogue news videos.

The next morning, as I set the bread to proof, I got to work on the lacquer glaze, which is the glaze on the cake on the cover of the book, and apparently a newish discovery (at least post-cake bible). The secret to its gloss is gelatin, whisked in at the last minute.I had some trouble with the glaze, which begins with melting some sugar and water over the stove. Although the sugar appeared melted, I feel that I may have left it a bit crunchy, which affected the liquidity of the whole. Next, cocoa is mixed into the sugar, which left it very stiff. Here is the place where I probably should have added a bit more water, but I was trying to follow the beaten path for once, and so I just put it back over the stovetop, whipped in cream, and brought almost to a boil. Then it cooled a bit, I whipped gelatin in, and there it was. When I saw the instruction to 'pour' the glaze over the cake, I knew there was a bit of an issue, as mine was more spreadable consistency. I spread it a bit, hoping it would magically smooth its gelatinized self out, but more predictably, it didn't, and I finally gave in, added more cream and a little heat to the remaining glaze, and had a thick, glossy finish to pour over the slightly lumpy log. It would have been better to avoid putting all the lumps on in the first place, as they didn't go away, but the finished product was satisfactorily slick and glossy.
I didn't get a great picture of the finished roll, and especially not of the middle, which was prettier, but here's what it looked like after I trimmed the ends.  And here below are the ends themselves, a sweet, chocolate-saturated, vaguely eastern European/Passover tasting creation. Lily was kind enough to humour me and put it in the case to sell--a few people even bought slices and liked it. Next time, more cooling for sponge and ganache, and more liquidity in the glaze, would make it perfect. The apricot faded into the background a bit under the chocolate avalanche, so next time I'd spring for the apricot liqueur to heighten the flavor.

But I no longer fear roulade.   


Joan said...

wow - kind of like a detective story. I was on the edge of my seat. bet it tasted good!


Hanaâ said...

How cool that you got to try this recipe in a commercial kitchen!! Sorry it wasn't what you expected. From the pictures it doesn't look that bad at all. And the final glaze was pretty shiny despite the lumps you described (I didn't see any on the picture).

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope that when Marie returns from her trip, she'll add you to the HCB blog roll. Welcome to HCB!

Katya said...

Oh it wasn't bad at all...just could have been better. But it did get eaten!

Vicki said...

The lacquer glaze was a show stopper.
I liked mine better with leftover Levkar heated with a bit of orange zest and more apricot brandy. Seemed to really punch all the flavors together. Rose's recipes always teach me something new.

Mendy said...


Welcome to the HCB's!

Unknown said...

Welcome to the HCB group! Looking forward to reading more post not only about our group but also your post on TWD (we can compare notes, since I'm part of that group as well).