5 weeks ago
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Mocha Walnut Bundt cake. Since my special occasion dessert selections have a strange tendency to track the TWD calendar, I decided to make this cake for Easter. And seeing as I have this bunny pan, and a 7, 5 and 2 year old in the house, I opted to skip the bundt and go with the more whimsical bunny. This was my second bunny cake, but my first marble cake. How I've managed to go twenty months in TWD without marbling anything boggles my mind.
The vanilla cake batter that forms the basis of the entire cake includes ground walnuts. They add a little something something to the cake without making it overly nutty. A little less than half of the batter is added to a melted chocolate/coffee mixture to create the "mocha" portion.
I tried to marble:
I realize that "marble" in this context is a verb that suggests considerably more movement that what is seen here. I'll have to work on my marbling next time I'm making a cake that doesn't involve floppy ears and a cottontail.
I wasn't quite sure how long to bake the cake. I swear that the Joy of Baking site has conversions for every conceivable pan size except for three dimensional bunnies. I decided to start out at 30 minutes and go from there. The center (torso) was way underdone at 30 minutes. I kept adding 5 minute intervals and finally took the cake out after about 45 minutes.
Depanning went smoothly - whew!
I made Dorie's bittersweet ganache to hold the two bunny halves together. It worked, to my great relief (and was really delicious with the cake!)
As for decorating, the materials that came with the cake suggest three options:
Ding ding ding! Why yes, I went with door #3, the confectioners' sugar bunny. Unfortunately, although dusting always sounds easy in theory, I have a really hard time with it. I just don't know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em when it comes to powdered sugar dusting, which my sweet husband likened to an artist who just can't stop dabbing paint. Well, he had the "just can't stop" part right, anyway. So unfortunately, it looked a little bit like a snow-covered bunny:
I wasn't sure quite what to do when it came time to cut the cake. I was as intimidated as I am when facing a whole chicken. I decided that typical chocolate bunny rules (first ears, then face, etc.) did not apply to a bunny cake. I started with the tail and cut it in slices, as if it were a loaf cake. That worked fine and wasn't terribly messy. Then I got to the head, checked to make sure there were no children in the room, got on my Mr. McGregor and chopped off the bunny head. I then removed the ears for good measure.
For reasons that I still don't quite understand, I left the head (i.e., two head halves) and the ears (i.e., two separate floppy ears) on the serving plate. As I'm sure is self-evident to you bakers, the head is essentially a muffin that has been baked for 45 minutes, and the ears are mini muffins that have been baked for 45 minutes. So those suckers were inevitably going to be overbaked, and not just a little bit. Clearly I should have thrown them out, but subconsciously, I guess I figured it was the slices that looked most appealing, so people would just naturally grab the slices. So I was horrified to see one person walk by with a bunny head half on the plate, and then another, and then someone else walked by with a floppy ear, and then someone else passed by with the other ear. Four plates, four overdone bunny head parts. I wasn't sure what to do at that point -- I'm pretty sure Emily Post does not cover what to do when family members serve themselves well-done bunny head cake parts that you stupidly left on the serving platter at Easter dinner -- so I just decided to not say anything. Still, I was so angry at myself - I survived the mixing, the marbling, the baking, the getting-the-bunny-out-of-the-pan, the making-the-ganache-thick-enough-to-hold-the-bunny-halves-together; the bunny assembly, the confectioner's sugar, the installation of the edible grass; and the transportation of said cake on my lap across the neighborhood in one piece ONLY TO SERVE SECTIONS OF THE CAKE THAT WERE, AT A MINIMUM, 90% OVERDONE.
I served myself an actual slice of cake, so I feel like I have a pretty good sense about how the cake really tasted. I did not seek or receive additional feedback about the cake - possibly because it was a fun, busy day with lots of activity, and everyone quickly moved from dessert to the next fun thing, and possibly because people literally could not speak after choking down the dried out, seared bunny head pieces. But nobody is more critical about my desserts than I am, and I can say with confidence that the center of the bunny cake (i.e., the bunny torso) was delicious. Even these slices were a wee bit overdone though - I probably should have taken it out about 5 minutes sooner. So I can't even imagine how awful the head and ears must have been. (Let it go Cathy. Let it go.) But the flavor (of the torso) was wonderful, and the texture was dense, rich and moist. I will make this cake again. Not in a bunny pan, though.
Erin of When In Doubt, Leave it at 350 (great advice!) chose the Mocha Walnut Bundt cake. Thanks for the delicious pick, Erin!
Posted by Cathy at 12:01 AM