Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sauternes-Soaked Cake with Candied Kumquats and Toasted Almonds (Page 715)

RECIPE #1087

  • Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010 -- 4pm
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Kitchen: Our Temporary California Home
  • Dining Companions: Matty and Josh G
  • Recipe Rating: B


Kumquats are in season and I spotted some good looking ones at Berkeley Bowl, so I decided to make this cake. I started by beating eggs and sugar until tripled in volume. Then I beat in some vanilla. I sifted a mixture of flour and salt over the batter (in three additions), folding each addition in gently. Then I took 3/4 of a cup of the batter and stirred it together with some melted butter. I then gently folded the butter mixture into the batter. I gently poured the cake into a pan which had been buttered, lined with parchment, and buttered again. I baked the cake until it was set in the center. Then I candied the kumquats. I boiled water, sugar, and salt, then added halved, seeded kumquats and cooked them until tender. I removed the kumquats, reduced the syrup, then added the syrup to the kumquats. I then made a second syrup by boiling Sauternes (a sweet wine), sugar, and kumquat zest. I pricked the slightly cooled, inverted cake all over with a skewer, and brushed the cup of Sauternes syrup onto the cake, waiting for it to absorb after each addition of syrup. I cooled the cake completely, then mounded the kumquats on top, and topped them with toasted, sliced, almonds. I served the kumquat syrup on the side.

In some ways this cake was very successful. This was an example of a genoise, which is known for being a tricky type of cake to make. Genoise has no chemical leveners (like baking powder or baking soda) so the levening is due to the eggs. Thus, if you lose too much air in the eggs, by overfolding for instance, the cake will not rise properly. Genoise will also sometimes fall when it comes out of the oven, which is a sad sight to see. This genoise, however, came out perfectly. The cake layer rose wonderfully and didn't fall in the slightest. Genoise is a dry cake, which is meant to be soaked. In this case it was soaked with the Sauternes syrup. The cake itself had a good flavor, and the syrup only improved it. I liked the soaked cake quite a lot. The kumquats on top, however, were disappointing. I cooked them as instructed -- I boiled them for the indicated time and they were indeed tender. But they weren't really candied as they should have been. The texture of the rinds was unpleasant to eat, and kumquats are mostly rind. My special gentleman and I both ended up removing the kumquats and just enjoying the cake with the kumquat syrup drizzled on it. That made for a lovely dessert!

The recipe is here.

This was the last recipe in the Cakes section of The Book! Whoo hoo! Four sections down, only 17 more to finish! [Actually, truth be told, I have already finished a fifth section, but I haven't gotten around to blogging about the last recipe in it yet!] I am a little sad that there are no more cakes left to make, but I am quite happy to be crossing off some whole sections. In no particular order, here are my favorite five of the sixty four recipes in the Cakes section:
  • Fresh Apricot Upside-Down Cake -- This cake was moist, flavorful and delicious. I love cakes with fruit in them and this recipe was a wonderful example!
  • Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting -- I wasn't such a fan of the cake recipe that this frosting went with, but the frosting was AMAZING. I have already returned to this recipe many, many times. It is super simple to make, easy to pipe, and delicious! This is my go-to chocolate frosting.
  • Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting -- This was just a wonderful carrot cake recipe. It had everything one would look for in carrot cake: moistness, a great flavor, an interesting texture... And the frosting complemented the cake beautifully.
  • Chocolate Roll with Cappucino Cream -- This rolled chocolate souffle with espresso cream filling was fantastic! Texturally it was excellent: the layers of souffle were light and airy, complemented perfectly by the soft, fluffy cream filling. And the classic flavor combination of coffee and chocolate was executed perfectly in this recipe -- just the right amount of bitterness, just the right amount of sweetness. Yum!
  • Russian Tea Room Cheesecake -- This cheesecake was texturally extremely unusual. It rose tremendously (from 8 egg whites folded into the batter) giving the cheesecake a fantastic airy texture. The flavors of lemon, vanilla, orange-flower water, and almond made the cheesecake extremely aromatic. I was skeptical about this recipe, but it definitely won me over!
What a fun section to cook through! Now there are no more cakes left in The Book, and no more cookies (I finished those long ago). Fortunately I still have a few pies left, and some puddings, and some frozen desserts!

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