My cake fail, let me show you it

So, just in time for hubby’s birthday this year I acquired a recipe that was to create his favourite log cake from childhood.

Now, I’m more the type to prepare cakes from mixes. Or, even better, acquired from the store! Dairy Queen being a stellar example! Mmmmm ice cream cake *drools*. However, I am also very precise when I cook (and eat, for that matter, as I measure out all quantities to the decimal place, lol). So as long as I have a recipe to follow, *with exact measurements and directions*, I can produce desired results.

So I looked over this recipe and compared it to a few others that were similar online, just to get a full idea of the preparation involved. Apparently it’s a fairly common Yule Log, with a bit of a twist. Despite the variations I came across online I stuck to the recipe given to me, as it was the long, lost flavour of this particular cake that hubby so desired. :) And so I began….

Laid out all the ingredients…

Buttered the cookie sheet, lined it with wax paper, and then buttered & floured that.

Then I began work on the cake part.

Ingredients – cake:
4oz semi-sweet chocolate
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1tsp orange zest
2tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp flour

Measured out 4oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Which I then melted and allowed to cool.

I took 4 eggs that had been brought to room temperature, and separated out the whites. Instructions said to beat the egg whites with the sugar and zest for 2-4 minutes. I beat the egg whites on their own for 7 minutes, then gradually added in the sugar and zest. Added a 1/2tsp of vanilla extract too!

Next: beat in the chocolate and cocoa. I added the cocoa powder to the melted chocolate, then poured that in with the fluffy egg whites. I blended that together, and then folded in the flour until it was all integrated nicely together. This mix I then spooned onto the baking sheet, and spread it across evenly.

It said to bake the cake at 350F for 20 minutes. However, I had read warnings on overcooking causing problems with later rolling. I discovered that the perfect amount of time was 13 minutes at this temperature. Just long enough to cook, and the cake had a spongy feel when it emerged.

While the cake was still warm, I was to roll it lenghthwise into a towel. So I took the cake, inverted it onto the towel, peeled off the wax paper, and slowly rolled it up in the towel. It was warm and flexible, and much to my relief it didn’t crack! There it was to be left to cool.

On to the next part!

Ingredients – mousse:
3oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 envelope unflavoured gelatin
1/8 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1tsp orange zest
1/4 cup Cointreau
3 egg whites
1 cup whipping cream

Three more ounces of chocolate needed to be melted. Did this as before.

Next I needed to sprinkle the ambiguous amount of gelatin over 1/8 cup of water. When I went shopping for gelatin it came in a variety of packaging, too, which *really* didn’t help in determining what “half a packet” would be considered. I found a similar recipe online which said 1/2tsp – an exact measurement! And so I crossed my fingers and sprinkled that amount of gelatin over the water in a pot. I let it soak for a minute (or two..) before turning on the stovetop on low heat and allowing the gelatin to dissolve into the water as it warmed.
As an aside, I have no idea why this step needed to be done so early.

Next was to beat more egg whites, add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until stiff. I did this using the same technique as before.

Next came time to whip up the whipping cream. I transferred the eggwhites + sugar into another bowl and cleaned out the stand mixer to get to work on this cream. It only took a couple of minutes for it to transform from milk-like substance into fluffy whipped cream! My first time ever preparing whipped cream, too! Whut, y’know it comes in an aerosol spray! :P

Whipped eggwhites + sugar in the bowl, fluffy whipped cream in the stand mixer.

Next, I folded the eggwhite + sugar mix in with the whipped cream. Ultimate creamy fluff.

Here it is, with the cake in the background, still rolled up, cooled, and waiting.

Next I needed to beat the egg yolks with other 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale (estimated to take about 5 minutes). Once it had reached this consistency, I beat in the melted chocolate, orange zest, and – oh yes – Cointreau. ;)

The recipe then said to place the bowl over gently simmering water, and to cook, stirring 2-4 mins until thick. I took this to mean I should place the bowl over a gently simmering *pot* of water *on the stovetop* (yes, me being me, I would have appreciated these precise details to be included).

I stirred the mix over the heat until it warmed and appeared to have thickened ever so slightly.

Then the gelatin dissolved in water – remember that? – was at last called for.
I quickly warmed the gelatin again, and then beat the gelatin in with the yolk/sugar/chocolate/booze mix.

Then I was to let this all cool in ice water, for approximately 10 minutes, stirring often.

Here I was made aware that I likely didn’t use enough gelatin, as the mix had only thickened slightly after cooling (I had thrown it into the fridge for about 7 minutes too). But I continued to push ahead. I was to then add the choco-booze mix in with the eggwhite/whipped cream mix…

…And gently fold them in together.

Next, I was to take half of the resulting mousse and spread it over the cake.

You may notice at this point that the cake you see here is completely fresh and new, not the same cake that had originally been rolled up in the towel and left to cool. YOU KNOW WHY? Because upon unrolling the cake in the towel, though it had still maintained its nice spongy texture, it had also cracked and broken apart completely. So, in a state of exhausted, utter devastation – heading into hour number 4 of baking – I went back and remade the entire cake from scratch! The mousse waited in the meantime in the fridge.

This second cake I left to cool for only a few minutes before spreading the mousse onto it. Then I used the wax paper it was on to roll it back up. More devastation ensued as the cake STILL cracked apart, and the warmth it did retain caused the mousse to liquify and pour freely onto the countertop and floor. At this point my attitude was “F it”. I rolled the cake up around the liquid mousse as best I could, “iced” atop the “roll” with more mousse, and jammed the whole mess into the fridge to hopefully solidify somewhat.

I was then meant to leave the “iced” “cake” in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before topping with the glaze.

Ingredients – glaze:
3oz melted chocolate
1 tbsp Cointreau
1/4 cup whipping cream

I DID NO SUCH BLOODY THING.

The following day I took the remaining bits of spongy cake and pried them out of the towel, dumped the whole thing into a container with the mess of roll-cake, and poured the remaining mousse over the whole thing.

It looks a frightful mess, but in all honesty tastes absolutely delicious.

I would compare it to an alcoholic chocolate orange. Heck yes.

Unfortunately, it is also absolutely NOTHING like the cake Paul remembers. And not just in terms of texture, where I so obviously failed. But he says there was no orange flavouring, there was no accompanying booze, nor heavy chocolate taste. It was supposed to be a light, chocolate roll with a light chocolate filling (much like a Twinkie). So I have no idea WTF I ended up making for my husband. It’s somebody’s time-honoured family recipe?! I quite enjoy it, though, so it’s in the freezer waiting for me until baby #2 is born.

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