Monday, July 30, 2007

Why So Blue? Strawberry (actually blueberry) Mirror Cake

The hostess for this months Daring Bakers challenge is the wonderful Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. A pretty impressive baker, Peabody challenged us with a Strawberry Mirror Cake.

I spent some time yesterday on Google looking for information on Mirror Cakes and came up with nothing, so what I can tell you is the dessert consists of white cake layered with Bavarian cream (eggs and sugar cooked until thick, then mixed with fruit puree,liqueur and gelatin) and topped with a "mirror" of fruit juice and gelatin.

I was torn all month long between not wanting to make the cake and wanting to add another notch to my Daring Baker "bedpost". It looked like a nice fruity dessert. On the other hand, so much egg, cream and sugar! Did my chubby little body need to make and eat such a dessert? Ultimately, unfortunately, the answer was yes.

I am glad I did. The cake, while not the nicest looking dessert (compared to some of the other DB's amazing efforts) , tastes wonderful. I even managed to forget about all the calories and fat long enough to eat a piece.

I did run into some small problems, but none that truly impacted the cake in a large way. My biggest roadblock was not being able to find strawberries for the Strawberry Mirror Cake.(!) I had put off making the cake all month, hoping for a break in the heat wave we've been having so I could spend some time in the hot kitchen without passing out. It never came, so this weekend was do or die. I made the actual cake part on Friday afternoon. Saturday was too full a day to do anything, and I had plans for Sunday afternoon. So there I was at the grocery store at 8:00 Sunday morning to buy milk, cream and strawberries.

But they didn't have any! Apparently they had run a big sale the previous few days and had sold out. The other grocery stores in our area don't open until 10 on Sundays. It was either choose another fruit or scrap the cake. I chose blueberries. (Obviously.)

Let's go back to Friday for a moment. The sponge cake is baked on a sheet pan, and then two circles are cut out for the two cake layers. Take a look at the job I did on the poor cake.

Not pretty. Thank heavens they weren't going to be visible once the cake was together. My other concern- the cake didn't rise very high.

I started off Sunday morning by making the fruit juice for the mirror and the fruit puree for the cream. Straightforward enough, although the blueberry skins and seeds were hell on my mesh strainers. I ended up having to spray down the strainers with the garden hose in the backyard to get them clean.

The Bavarian cream was the most work. It kicked my butt. I stood over that stove for 40 sweaty minutes, frantically stirring and adjusting the burner to try to thicken the damn stuff without letting it curdle. I think I pulled it off a bit too soon, but I just couldn't bear having the stove burner on for another second.

The fruit puree and gelatin were mixed in (I omitted the alcohol as some of my co-workers do not drink) and the filling was cooled and folded into whipped cream. It was heavenly; a light blueberry fruit mousse. If you could fool yourself into forgetting it is full of egg yolks, cream and sugar you'd think it was good for you. The Bavarian cream is layered with the cake and chilled to set.

When the cake is set, the mirror is made with blueberry juice, sugar and gelatin. You cool it in a ice water bath and pour it on the cake. Smooth off any bubbles (I forgot to do that) and back in the fridge until firm.


I was very pleased with how this turned out. It's quite pretty, and tastes wonderfully light. I didn't think much of the sponge cake, but that's ok as the Blue Devil (aka Bavarian cream) is the real star of the dish.


Thanks for coming by! If you want to make your own mirror cake here's the recipe over at Peabody's. If you'd like to read about the other Daring Bakers experiences with the cake please check out the blog roll.

37 comments:

Shaun said...

Sara, darling - It seems that substituting the strawberries for blueberries was a good call, for some Daring Bakers have mentioned that the strawberry flavor is not very pronounced. I think your cake looks lovely and wish I was a colleague at your place of work!

Andrea said...

Oooo, blueberry. That sounds wonderful and looks delish!

Deborah said...

I was the opposite of you - I loved the cake but didn't care much for the cream!! I love the way the blueberry looks!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow blueberries changes everything doesn't it! I like the blueberries Sara, looks beautiful. The mirror is lovely.
I really did love the strawberries - taste and smell were just divine.

breadchick said...

Sara, great job on the last minute substitution! Your cake looks wonderful and I think I like it blue almost better than red! Glad you decided to go ahead and doing the challenge this month.

Pille said...

I'm with Deborah here - my sponge was definitely delicious, and the cream a pale comparison. :) Love the blueberry substitution - I almost didn't find strawberries either, as the season ended very abrubtly!!

Peabody said...

I love how dark the mirror is, that looks cool!

Erin said...

Your cake looks gorgeous! I have blueberries coming out of my ears right now so perhaps round two of the cake is in my future ...

Meeta said...

Awesome idea to use the blueberries. The strawberry taste in mine were rather subdued! This looks great!

Quellia said...

Yes, that looks just like the cake I picked up from a bakery a few months back! Glad to hear the blueberries worked well. And I hope your heat wave breaks soon!

veron said...

oh my, this is a unique one. It looks beautiful, Sara. Don't you just hate it that when you go to a store that seemingly carries the item you want everyday only not to have it the day you really want it. Happens to me all the time. At least there were no strawberries to hull...

Laura said...

A dark beauty Sara, I'd love to give it a try again using blueberries.

Cheryl said...

Its like a pool at night. Dark and mysterious. Very cool.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow that cake looks amazing! it is really a stunner in blue!

Anita said...

I really love the color, Sara, you did a fantastic job!

Hilda said...

Blueberries, I love blueberries, I'm a blueberry myself, so I think that was a great idea to make it with blueberries. I'm going to try that soon actually because I bet the taste is more pronounced that way.

Mary said...

That deep blueberry color is really gorgeous!

Anh said...

Oh oh oh, a rhapsody in blue! I love that you use blueberry. A great idea!

Ivonne said...

I think it looks fantastic with the blueberries! Great substitution!

Elle said...

Blue Devil indeed! It looks great and it's fun to see the blueberry variation, although I'll bet the strawberry would have be beautiful, too. it is amazing how long it took to cook the bavarian and then to cool the mixture. The mirror is quite dark...did you have to add food color?

Anne said...

blueberries? that's a good idea! Beautiful!

knicksgrl0917 said...

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Chris said...

Sara - this looks fantastic! I love the blueberry...I am trying to think of other fruits to try...hmmmm

Kevin said...

That looks amazing!

Lis said...

Ohhh man.. why'd strawberries have to be on sale and so plentiful here?? That looks AMAZING Sara! I love, love, love the color. At the end of work tonight I clicked on your blog but the guys wanted to go so I couldn't read then.. but Helene happened to call tonight and I told her all about how gorgeous it was and how I bet it tasted even better. Now I do wanna make this cake again.. only with blueberries next time. ;)

Way to go.. you so rock!
xoxoxoxoxox

Tartelette said...

Beautiful Blue Devil Mirror Cake! Love your use of blueberries. Very creative and very hip cake !

sher said...

Boy, I had trouble cutting out my flat little cakes too! And I LOVE the blueberry mirror. It would taste so good. Great job!

KJ said...

I would love to try this, it looks delicious. Great job.

Rachel said...

Pretty! I think the blueberries made more sense anyway, strawberries aren't in season anymore!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love your version for the cake, Sara!

Nora B. said...

Blueberries - great choice! I wish I could have a slice.

Culinarily Curious said...

I'm not knocking the pale pink strawberries 'cause they're beautiful, but there are a lot of them out there right now, and your midnight blue blueberry confection provides striking contrast.

Jenny said...

Wish I could have said there were NO strawberries. There were, just not good ones, while blueberries are everywhere... wish I'd done what you did, it looks so pretty with the purple and white!!

My cake rounds looked just like yours, lol.

Leslie said...

The blueberry looks SO good! Love the deep hue.

I actually quite liked the cake, but I made it in 2 8" cake pans (no jelly roll pan). Mine rose a little higher as a result and ended up being quite nice....though it was overcooked.

Thanks for sharing - I really like how you did this!

Brilynn said...

I like the looks of the blueberry! It would make pretty ice cream...

Kelly-Jane said...

The blueberry looks great too! Well done :)

Jes said...

I love the idea of the blueberries...so dark and inviting!