Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jam Cake with Caramel Chocolate Ganache

Many of you must have known by now that I love eating and making desserts.  I especially love making cakes, especially the layered ones.  Though I'm not an expert in cake decorations, I've always tried my best to cover my cakes with yummy frosting.  Honestly, the simple the decoration, the better my cake will turn out :)

Because of that, I don't mind baking cakes for birthday for my family members.  This month's birthday was my dad's and of course I made a cake for him.  His birthday was a couple of weeks ago and we went out to eat dinner at a local pizza joint to celebrate it.  I chose this cake because it looked pretty in the book and the flavor combination seemed intriguing.  After I made the cake and tasted it, I was so in love with the book!  The cake was moist with just enough spices and interestingly, the jam worked well in the cake.  I've never made a cake with jam in the batter so yeah, I was glad I tried it.  The ganache was decadent, smooth with a hint of caramel.  This recipe is definitely a keeper, I know it will come handy when I make another sweet thing.  The recipe calls for specific jam, but unfortunately I didn't have any of those and what I had in mind was actually my homemade strawberry jam.  The result?  We all love it!  The color of the cake was actually a bit more rosy in actuality but somehow the pictures didn't do any justice.  No matter, the flavor's delicious and I'm very satisfied with the recipe.

Jam Cake with Caramel Chocolate Ganache

Makes 12 to 16 servings

2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups (17 1/4 ounces) jam, preferably blackberry, raspberry, or apricot

3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (4 ounces) sliced almonds, toasted

Caramel Chocolate Ganache, recipe below

Grease and lined three 8-inch round cake pans (I used three 8-inch square cake pans).

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325 degree F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, then whisk the mixture to ensure that the ingredients are well distributed.

In a small bowl, stir together the jam and the buttermilk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour.  After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl.  Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overbeat the batter.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans (there will be approximately 1 pound 4 ounces per pan) and smooth the tops.  Bake in the middle of the oven until the centers are just barely firm when lightly touched, 32 to 34 minutes.  Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing them from their pans.  Once removed, continue to cool the cakes on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature.  Leave the parchment paper on until you assemble the cake.

To assemble the cake, place on of the layers, top side up, on a flat plate or a cake board.  Using a thin metal spatula, spread a thin layer of caramel ganache ( a bit more than 1/2 cup) on top of the cake and out to the edges of the cake.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of almonds evenly over the ganache.  Align the next cake layer, top side up, on top of the first one, and repeat with another thin layer of ganache and almonds.  Place the final layer of cake on top of the cake.  Frost the top heavily and the sides lightly with the remainder of the ganache.  Lightly press the remaining toasted almonds on the side of the cake.

This cake is best stored and served at room temperature.  In an airtight container, it keeps for up to 5 days.

Caramel Chocolate Ganache

Makes just over 2 cups (enough to frost an 8- or 9-inch cake)

8 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chips

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Put the chocolate into a small heat-resistant bowl and set aside.

Put the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir just until the sugar has dissolved.  Put down your spoon and let the syrup come to a boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.  Cook the syrup until it turns a dark amber color.  Swirl the pan to distribute the color and heat.

Once the syrup reaches the desired color, take the pan off the heat and pour in 1/3 cup of the cream.  Do this carefully, as the caramel is very hot and will bubble up when you add the cream.  Once the bubbling subsides, stir in the rest of the cream 1/3 cup at a time, then stir in the butter a piece at a time.  Place the pan back over medium heat and stir to combine all the ingredients.  Once the ingredients are all incorporated into the caramel, pour it over the chocolate.  Swirl the bowl so that the chocolate is completely coated with the warm caramel, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes.  With a whisk, stir the mixture slowly, starting with small circles in the middle and working your way outward, whisking a bit more briskly as you go, until you have a smooth, glossy frosting.  Leave the ganache on your kitchen counter, stirring now and then to help it cool, until it reaches spreading consistency, about 3 hours.  If it stiffens up too much, simply put it someplace warmer than your counter.

Covered with plastic wrap at room temperature, this ganache keeps for up to 3 days.

Source:  Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

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