From time to time I actually get around to trying out a recipe, not for a particular occasion, but simply something I found on the internet to test out on my family and friends. What I wanted to say when I started writing this post was be very careful about trying recipes that you have found on blogs – but then I realised that this is pretty ironic coming from me! So what I would say is this… sometimes recipes you find on blogs and Pinterest look like the most beautiful cake in the world, but if you read through the recipe and think to yourself, “Hmm that’s a rather odd approach” then be warned. They may not have found a ground-breakingly delicious alternative method, and they may instead have been focusing on its pinnable & photographic appearance more than the contents of the cake.
I’m not necessarily targeting this recipe that I made for my Winter Frost Cake – they’ve clearly put lots of thought into each part of the cake – but rather recently I’ve had a few baking disappointments and have come to the conclusion that I should probably stick to my baker’s instincts when I follow a new recipe. For example, with this cake I was very surprised that there would be gelatine in the marscapone cream filling… but not wanting a cake with a runny filling I gave it a go. However, once you start whipping together a marscapone cream you should really have enough solidity already… adding gelatine gave it nasty rubbery bits and an unhappy texture for me, and I wished that I had just beaten up a fluffy cream to go in the middle. I think that it’s probably the case that if you want a perfectly clean slice to photograph then that would be why you want a gelatinous centre, but for me it ruins the taste.
This also wasn’t my ideal sponge – a Russian fatless sponge it appears, but not one that requires separating the eggs to get a light centre, and it’s rather dry (even the recipe asks you to pour over liqueur syrup to counter the dryness) so I would probably choose a different type of sponge mixture.
Home-made raspberry jam is a nice filling but it felt a bit strange using such an out of season fruit! Again, it was just a case of wanting to try out an exciting recipe, but for all the straining off raspberry seeds and then adding a few raspberries back in for texture, I would just use one of my jumbly foraged jams as a filling in future – much cheaper than buying all those raspberries.
On the bright side though, it was still a pretty nice cake as far as the friends and family were concerned! And I decorated it inspired by the beautiful walks I’ve been having through the bright and stunning wintry North Cotswold landscapes which are my home. The white chocolate ganache icing was delicious too… I just disagree with their technique! (Oh dear, chocolate snobbery coming out again). They tell you to whisk the chocolate-cream-butter mixture with an electric whisk for 10 minutes… which is really only something you would do if you have been too rough with your ganache and the fat splits away! I didn’t need to do any of that silly whisking, but being very gentle folding my butter into the chocolate-cream mixture, the latter part I heated a tiny bit in the microwave if it hadn’t melted together.
In conclusion, I would have been better off sticking with a good old Delia sponge, a simple fluffy marscapone cream filling, a foraged jam and some seasonal fruits. Once you have been baking a while, I think that you find your own tried-and-tested methods, and so should trust your instincts when you have reservations about recipes. Which just means I’ll have to make it again… how unfortunate for my family who will have to eat a second one. Anyway, it’s back to looking up Christmas dinner recipes for me! Happy Christmas baking.