Sunday, December 4, 2011

Famjam/Guest Post: Gillian's IKEA cake absurdities

Hi, I’m Gillian, Minh’s wife and co-taster of most of the things he eats. (Very) occasionally I get creative in the kitchen as well, and today I wanted to share a baking story with you all.

This is a story about two failures. This entry was originally meant to 1) show you all how to make the ‘IKEA cake’ (as my friends call it), and 2) help Minh out by writing in his blog so that there are new entries even though he’s busy with work. Although the cake turned out to be a disappointing misnomer and the entry is going up weeks too late, I hope you still find it entertaining/informative.

Almond Dacquoise or IKEA Cake (from the Instructions & Recipe Manual that came with our KitchenAid Stand Mixer (thanks Di Ha for the great gift! Your win is our gain)

6 oz blanched almonds, ground
1 c powdered sugar
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (note: apparently baking powder is a good substitute for this – thanks to google for helping me out when I failed to find this in the store)
3 tbsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp almond extract

Chocolate Buttercream Filling (recipe follows)

1. Combine almonds, powdered sugar and cornstarch, set aside.

2. Place egg whites in bowl of electric stand mixer. Turn to medium-high and whip until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar and continue whipping until soft peaks form. Reduce to low and quickly add almond mixture, mixing just until blended.

3. ***Using a pastry bag fitted with large (1/2-inch) plain tip pipe mixture onto greased and floured baking sheets to form 3 (8-inch) circles. Bake at 250oF for 35-45 minutes. Remove from baking sheets and cool on aluminum foil. Fill and frost with Chocolate Buttercream Filling.

*** Here is where we deviated (disastrously) from the recipe, bringing you my third fail of this entry (if you’re counting). My substitution for lack of pastry bag (ignoring all suggestions of making my own with a Ziploc bag) was to buy 3 8-inch pie plates. I’m not sure if the problem was that I failed to grease them, that they were too thick, or that the cooking temperature is a typo that should read 350oF – but the cake did not cook through, and then neither its burnt nor uncooked bits would come out of the pan. I am lazy in the kitchen (which is actually the reason Minh banned me from it in the first place, but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, I thought it would be much too complicated to figure out how to pipe 3 perfectly 8-inch circles, and I paid for my shortcut. If you come up with a more successful substitution, please let me know.

And now for something slightly more successful...

Chocolate Buttercream Filling:
 2 egg yolks
1 c powdered sugar
2 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate, melted
¾ c (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla

1. Place egg yolks in bowl of electric stand mixer. Turn to medium-high and whip 2 minutes. Stop and scrape bowl. 

2. Reduce speed to medium and gradually add powdered sugar, chocolate, butter, and vanilla; continue beating until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

In all my fail-talk, I’ve neglected to mention that this cake was made with my friend Jana in honour of her birthday. She was a great sport and kind to indulge me considering she 1) hates baking, and 2) hates being reminded of her birthday. But we do both love this cake to death, have gifted it to each other (and Minh too) for our respective birthdays, and are perhaps guilty of driving out to IKEA just to sample slices it in the cafeteria and stock up on frozen cakes for our freezers.

 Luckily the memory of us cursing, and eventually laughing until we cried as we tried to extract the cakes from their pans will be bringing a smile to my face for a long time. And although the finished product looked a little (read: a lot) messy, and ended up looking/tasting nothing like the IKEA cake (see here for a truer replication – the title of this recipe misled me, what can I say!), it still brought a smile to her face at her birthday celebration.

Happy belated birthday Jana, and happy baking to all of you.

What’s your biggest baking disaster? Had something taste nothing like you imagined? Forgot to grease your pans? Take any disastrous liberties with instructions? 

Update: On a recent trip to IKEA we were both devastated to realize they’ve changed their dessert line-up and no longer sell our beloved cake :(