I've just joined the Daring Bakers, an Internet society of
bloggers who all bake the same cake on the same day (or thereabouts)
and then blog about it. It was a nice feeling to slave over this
pastry, knowing that all my other daring colleagues were doing the
same, somewhere out in cyberspace. An anonymous fellowship...
This month's Challenge was that French classic the gateau
d'opera, a labor intensive cake, as it has so many components: a
joconde, which is a sheet cake made of ground nuts and egg whites; a
syrup to soak the layers with; a buttercream for in between the layers;
a mousse to go atop the final layer; a glaze to go atop the mousse.
twist was that we were forbidden to use dark flavorings such as the
traditional chocolate/mocha/rum deal and were exhorted to stick to
light colors, such as (blech) white chocolate. This filled me with
rage at first, but I soon convinced myself that it was the sort of
formal restriction that creates breakthroughs, much as when Walter
Abish wrote his book "Alphabetical Africa," in which the first chapter
contained only words beginning with the letter A, the second chapter
had words starting with A and B, and so on, until he was able to write
the 26th chapter without restraint, at which point he began to subtract
the letters one by one.
Ages ago, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and
Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against
Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all
argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced
against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and
afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's
antipodal ant annexation. Albert argumentatively answers at another
apartment. Answers: ants are ameisen. Ants are ameisen?
I decided that pineapple might have the kind of acid to cut through the
cloying sweetness of the white chocolate. Also, I thought: coconut.
Coconut and rum.
I prepared the Fresh Pineapple Preserve from
the Cake Bible, and used the syrup from it (plus some rum) to soak the
almond joconde with. I pureed the pineapple chunks and mixed them in
with the vanilla buttercream. I made the white chocolate mousse using
Lindt's coconut white chocolate. I glazed the whole thing with more
white chocolate, and I pressed fresh shaved coconut into the sides.
It was fun to crack the coconut utilizing everything in my husband's toolbox.
by the time I got to the glazing step, I was really tired. Also, I had
spent all day trying to apply for a liquor license. Also, I had drunk
some of the rum. Glazing has never been my strong suit, even in the
best of times. The cake wound up looking like it had a skin condition,
but I hid the strange white chocolate pustules with fresh, pale pink
peonies. It ended up looking OK, and it tasted really freaking good.
Lots of scintillating people came over, and with the cake we sipped rum to which I
added a soupcon of Allspice Dram, which is a haunting allspice-flavored
liqueur of West Indian origin. I like this beverage because it makes me feel like a pirate. There was also champagne, and