Thursday, October 16, 2014

a fancy cake for a fancy lady

my mom is the best. she is loving, supportive, fun and kooky, fearless, and full of life. she's been kindly dubbed "diva" at work, and that's a credit to both her style and presence; respect is earned, and she has more than earned it.

being the world traveler that she is, this year my mom celebrated her birthday with a cruise to the caribbean, so a belated birthday celebration was needed once she got back to dry land ;)

kavin, abby, and i headed up to connecticut armed with malaysian food (enough for lunch, dinner, and leftovers) and a homemade birthday cake (enough to feed 12 plus)--apparently we like to go big with food.

i chose to make san francisco bakery tartine's passion fruit and lime bavarian chiffon cake. this was the perfect cake for my mom: light and not too sweet, tart and bright from the lime and passion fruit, and all layered with a hint of fancy. there were multiple components to this cake and took a couple days to make (had to set overnight before frosting), which led to a beautifully airy and elegant cake for an equally beautiful person <3

happy birthday, mom! i love you!
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
:: passion fruit and lime bavarian chiffon cake ::
(recipe from tartine)
makes one 10-inch cake; 12 to 16 servings

chiffon cake
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
10 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

preheat the oven to 325F. line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper cut to fit exactly. do not grease the sides of the pan.

sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. add 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the salt and whisk to combine. in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon zest. make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture, and then whisk thoroughly and quickly for about 1 minute until very smooth.

place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy. add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold soft peaks. slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. using a rubber spatula, scoop about one-third of the whites onto the yolk mixture and fold in gently to lighten the batter. gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula if necessary. bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. let cool in the pan (the sides of the pan will help hold the structure of the cake as it cools) on a wire rack.

to unmold, run a small, thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then release and lift off the pan sides. invert the cake, peel off the parchment, and cool completely. the cake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. 

when ready to assemble, split the cake into 4 layers. you will only need 3 layers for this recipe. reserve the extra layer for another use.

lime syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water 
grated zest of 2 limes 
1/3 cup lime juice

combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. when the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and chill until cool, about 30 minutes. whisk the lime zest and juice into the syrup.

passion fruit bavarian cream
2/3 cup passion fruit pulp, frozen or fresh (about 12 fruits)* 
2 large egg yolks 
1/3 cup sugar 
pinch of salt 
1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin 
2 tablespoons water 
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold

* i didn't quite have enough passion fruit so i supplemented with some freshly squeezed orange juice--worked just fine.

pass the passion fruit pulp through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl and discard seeds.  

in a large bowl, prepare an ice bath of both ice and water. in a medium saucepan, bring about 2-inches of water to a simmer. combine the egg yolks, sugar, passion fruit, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. whisk together and then place over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the yolks are hot to the touch (120F), about 7 minutes. this is the bombe.

meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over water in a small dish and let stand for a few minutes to soften. when the bombe is ready, add the gelatin and whisk well to dissolve. remove the bowl from the hot water and nest the  bowl in the ice bath just until slightly cool to the touch, whisking to cool the mixture evenly.

in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. scoop about one-third of the cream into the bombe. gently fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula.

line the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap, allowing enough overhang to cover the top of the cake completely when it is assembled. leave the bottom of the pan unlined.

fit one cake layer into the bottom of the pan. using a pastry brush, moisten the later with one-third of the lime syrup. working quickly, pour half of the mixture onto the first layer of cake.

top with the second layer, being careful as the filling is very liquid. brush this layer with half of the remaining lime syrup and then immediately pour the remaining Bavarian cream over it.

carefully top with the last layer and moisten it with the remaining syrup. fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the top of the cake, covering completely, and refrigerate overnight.

when you are ready to finish the cake, release and lift off the pan sides and peel away the plastic wrap. using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cake to a serving plate, if using, or leave it on the cake pan base.

1-1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold 
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 cup unsweetened large-flake dried coconut (*i left this off)

using a whisk or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and sugar until  until the cream holds medium peaks. using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream, and then sprinkle the top and sides with coconut.

return the cake to the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving to allow the coconut flakes to absorb the moisture from the cream and soften.

serve the cake cold. it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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