Monday, October 5, 2009

Key Lime Coconut Cake, take one

In my "Intro to Cakes" class this semester, we have to come up with a cake combination to make for our practical final. The initial recipe is due by midterm, which happens to be next week. Wow! Where does the time go.

I've been pondering this assignment for a while and came up with the decision that although I needed to make something beautiful and delicious, above all I needed to do something that is simple and can be easily done within the confines of class.

So, I give you, Key Lime Coconut Cake, draft 1! Once I finalize the recipe, I'll post it.

The cake consists of a Coconut cake brushed with a coconut simple syrup, filled with a key lime curd, iced with chantilly cream and garnished with toasted coconut and lime slices.

This cake also doubled as my boyfriend's brother's birthday cake (which also allowed me to practice my chocolate piping skills, although they aren't required for my final).

Let me tell you, this cake was not without its challenges......

Challenge 1) Key Lime Juice
I searched high and low for key lime juice, and found actual key limes at Walmart (which I bought as backup) before finding jars of key lime juice at Whole Foods. Once I got the jars home and started making the curd, I discovered faulty seals in the jars and mold in the covers. Gross!

So, I ended up juicing all the little key limes. By hand.

If you're not familiar with key limes, they've got a very different flavor than regular limes (very distinctive flavor) and they're much smaller and more yellow colored. I'd say it probably takes the juice from 2-3 key limes to make up the juice from one regular lime. Oye, it took me FOREVER to get the correct measurement of juice......

Challenge 2) Coconut cake that actually tastes like coconut
This particular cake recipe contained coconut milk as the only contributing coconut flavor. Well, it doesn't really taste like coconut. At all. Bummer, since this is, after all, suppose to be a COCONUT cake. Even adding coconut simple syrup didn't seem to help much.... But like I said, this is trial number !

Mis-en-Place for assembling

Challenge 3) Making the cake ahead of time & assembling it in your boyfriend and his brother's kitchen.
Chef told us that it would probably be more difficult to assemble our cakes at home than it will be in school and I really hope he's right...... Assembling this cake was kind of a disaster. First of all, I made everything on Thursday night and friday afternoon, but didn't assemble until Saturday morning (I had class and then had to travel to my boyfriend's house, which took most of friday)......

Attempting to cut without a turntable

I did make the simple syrup the day of, as well as toasting the coconut, but the cake, the curd and the chantilly cream were made ahead of time.

By the time I assembled, the cake tasted even less like coconut, the curd had gelled too much and the chantilly cream was no longer stiff.

over-gelatinized curd

Not to mention, I didn't have any sort of a rotating surface or turntable.

Lots of dishes were dirtied in the process, and I ended up using a human turntable (aka my boyfriend) to place the toasted coconut on the sides.

Oh well, you learn, you make changes. Overall, it tasted pretty good, although not really like coconut. I'll be tweeking the recipe this week--hopefully it won't take too many more trials!

On the plus side, though, I really feel my chocolate piping skills improved.

I always seem to get so nervous about piping words, but Chef Jeff did a chocolate piping demo on Friday and I feel much more comfortable after the demo and lots of practice. Sometimes you just need to learn to take the easy way out: like writing "Happy 21st" instead of "Happy Birthday." Much less room for error :)

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