Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

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.


Melinda said...

The cake turned out perfect and the ganache may look odd, but evidently must taste very, very good!
You are right about it being frustrating to have to convert recipes. I have cups which I use for American recipes. It's when friends ask for the conversions...and don't get me started about trying to explain what a 10 inch angel food cake pan is to a Brit. (They have to be special ordered here)
The list is long so I won't bore you with it all!
I haven't had much success with white chocolate ganache. It was way too sweet and very runny. I am thinking I just don't like white chocolate that much as a ganache.
RLB's chocolate ganache with the grounded praline added is the best! I still have people tell me how wonderful that ganache was.
I've never had a curdled ganache with Rose's recipes, so perhaps they ARE foolproof. I tell you, if there is a foolproof loophole...I would find it!

evil cake lady said...

I don't know, girls, I seem to still curdle RLB's ganache every time I attempt it! However, one of my only successful ganache attempts was following her instructions for the food processor one. I even turn her white chocolate ganache into while chocolate butter. Oh well.

But your cake looks really wonderful Marie! And, New Zealand--how exciting!

breadbasketcase said...

If you've never had a curdled ganache, I'll bet you are not looking very hard for the foolproof loophole. But I'm glad to hear that the food processor method actually works.

Oh good, it makes me feel better that you've turned out a bad ganache. Not that I'm wishing bad things on you, it's just a misery loves company kind of thing.
Jim and I are taking Elizabeth to Australia and New Zealand as a graduation present. She finally graduates from med school next month. I'm hoping that one day she'll be able to support us.

evil cake lady said...

Yeah, I think my parents had to throw that dream out the window when I told them I wanted to be an acupuncturist!

That is a tremendous accomplishment, and you guys are great parents for acknowledging it. Now when either you or I can accomplish a non-curdled ganache, we should be taken on a trip too!

breadbasketcase said...

I like your plan--if only we could find someone who would pay for a lovely trip as a reward for a perfect ganache, we might be tempted to make it more often.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently sitting here googling in desperation what do do when Rose's foolproof ganache splits!

Thank you very much.

That will teach me to try a foolproof recipe when my age old boring steadfast recipe works just as well.