Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Our friends Doug and Mary invited us to their house to view some of their New Zealand slides, in preparation for our upcoming trip to Austrlia and New Zealand, and I said I'd bring dessert. Since I still had about a cup and a half of buttermilk in the refrigerator, naturally I wanted to make something to get rid of the buttermilk. A chocolate cake sounded good, and I found a recipe for chocolate buttermilk cake on the internet.
Now I know how you Brits feel (I'm talking to you, Melinda) when you have to change our recipe instructions and measurements. This cake called for 250 g. of butter, which is just slightly more than two sticks. It also wanted "caster sugar" (?) and "plain flour" (something like all-purpose?). It also called for 250 ml of buttermilk, which seemed like a lot, but didn't quite use up the remaining buttermilk. (It's gone, though).
It turned out to be a very nice cake. If you want to try it yourself, just Google "chocolate buttermilk cake," and it should appear.
The recipe suggested serving it with chocolate ganache poured over it, which sounded like a good idea to me. I am not much of a cake baker, but I've made ganache before, and it's always turned out fine. Even though it sounds very French and fancy, it's quite easy, and it actually never occurred to me that it was tricky. But this one was. Instead of turning out smooth and glossy, as a ganache is supposed to do, it got all dull and curdled. It looked like it couldn't be rescued, so I just dumped it on the cake, and hoped that people would just notice the strawberries and not the unpretty ganache.
Of course, if I'd been thinking, I would have checked out The Cake Bible, in which Rose tells how to rescue a curdled ganache. First of all, I could have used her food processor method, which she calls "foolproof." I don't know about you, but I'm always a little reluctant to tempt fate by trying "foolproof" recipes. And "overbeating causes curdling," she says, which I didn't know. "If the mixture gets overbeatan and grainy, it can be restored by remelting, chilling, and rebeating." I obviously didn't know that either, but I'm offering this hint to you, free of charge, in case you ever end up with a curdled ganache.
By the way, Doug forgot to check the light bulb on his slide projector, so we didn't see the slides of New Zealand after all, but we did enjoy the cake. And it was still good the next day, when I took it to my political group. And it was still quite good on Friday, when I took it to work, where the last piece was chopped up and divided until only crumbs were left. Finally, when no one was looking, the crumbs disappeared.