Monday, September 20, 2010

Heavenly Cake Bakers: Apple Caramel Charlotte

I signed up for this because I like heavily involved, ridiculously detailed baking projects, right? Yeah, make that sometimes. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy most steps of making the Apple Caramel Charlotte from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I did. I like eating sponge cake and freezing cake layers and whipping cream just fine.
The final dessert was also good, and I should know as I have eaten far too much of it, but not really quite at the payoff level that it should have been for so much input. It might just be the competition--fall's first apples are just starting to take off in New York, and there is simply no way of cooking them that does them justice. Baldwins! Russets! Macouns!

And what is Trader Joe's selling? Mushy-looking Fujis, Galas, and Granny Smiths from New Zealand and Chile. How does that even work? Isn't it only spring down under? Are those seriously storage apples from last year's crop? Unpleasant thought.

As usual, I made some small changes to the recipe (honestly, I usually alter recipes without even really thinking about it or noticing, and don't even consider my tweaks noteworthy unless I substitute a major protein or switch chiles in for kumquats, or something). I didn't have apricot jam, so I used cherry, which I didn't strain. I also didn't have Calvados in which to poach the apples, so I improvised with some rose wine, some cider vinegar, and a little cranberry shrub.

Here is the recipe in short, for those of you not yoked to the book this weekend: Make sponge cake, cut into geometric patterns. Layer with jam, and the layered stack. Poach apples in various liquids with vanilla bean. Incorporate poaching liquid into yolky custard. Chill. Make Italian meringue. Chill. Whip cream. Blend the previous three steps. Line cake mold. Pour in cream. Arrange poached apples in a rose formation on top. Chill.
And that's the short version. I really don't mind finicky steps, I promise. But Bavarian cream? Pastry cream or whipped cream would have been just as good. Truth is, though, I didn't make exactly the Bavarian cream I meant to, as I ran out of gelatin. I only used about 1/5 of the gelatin called for in the recipe, which meant that my Bavarian lost its main useful characteristic, setting firmly enough to cut slices from. It was creamy and good, though. The cake didn't so much slice as gloop, but no one seemed to mind. When I say no one, I mean mostly me. Lucky I only made a seven inch version. I am only eating it because it is cheaper than buying ice cream, anyway.

I skipped the final glaze on the poached apple rose, which was to be made from leftover poaching liquid. I honestly just forgot, but I'm devoutly grateful that I did, because the poaching liquid was better than any other component of the cake. Mixed with a little selzer, it became my new favorite home-made soda mix, a slightly fruity, vanilla-scented cream soda. There was only enough for a few glasses, and I hope to make more soon.


Shandy said...

I LIKE HOW YOU think! WOW! Love the cherry between the cake slices, your adapting changes for the poaching liquid AND you used poaching liquid for a cream soda? Brilliant! Your rose looks very pretty too.

Unknown said...

I also liked the Cherry instead of the apricots, looks striking.

Vicki said...

I love the cherry contrast! I wish you would rework this recipe with easier steps because my son informed me he wants it for his birthday next July! I might possibly be recovered by then.

Joan said...

Poaching liquid????

Lisa said...

What a gorgeous cake! I love how the apples look like a rose on top. They add such a nice touch.

mds said...

I'm sorry that Trader Joe's had such disappointing apples. I just got back from the Brookline farmers' market with locally-grown fujis, macs, and galas. Mmmmmmmmm. They are all tiny and cute, because your cousin says she likes apples, but not enough to eat large apples.