Sunday, April 29, 2007

Daring Bakers Do Martha

crepecake2


It's that time again. And, my oh my, how the Daring Bakers have grown! From just 2 (founders Ivonne and Lisa), to 5, 7, 10, 16, and now 30 members. For this month's challenge, we didn't bake, but we were definitely challenged. Brilynn's choice was Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. An extravaganza of delicate chocolate crepes layered with a hazelnut cream filling, covered with a glaze and adorned with candied hazelnuts. Sounds like heaven, right? Nope, it was more like hell.

Delicate, lacy crepes? Umm, not quite. And from the chatter among the Daring Bakers over the last couple weeks, I wasn't the only one who had trouble with the crepes. Some ladies made modifications to Martha's recipe from the get-go and others tried multiple batches before achieving something decent. I tried the crepe recipe just once and that was enough for me. I'm normally not a quitter in the kitchen, but crepes shouldn't be this difficult. But on the plus side, I had fun flipping my crepes. I flipped them by picking them up by the edges with my fingers and I only burned myself once. After the first 3 crepes, the rest turned out nicely. The flavor of the crepes was good but the texture was all wrong. And once my crepes cooled, they were a bit stiff.



Now, I love the Martha. Even during her tough times, I stuck by her. But even so, my success with her recipes has been 50/50. Although the crepe part was a bust, the meringue buttercream filling was delicious. Martha's recipe called for hazelnut cream but I used strawberry jam instead. And since the jam was already sweet, I decreased the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. The crazy amount of butter in the filling was a little scary too but when it's all whipped up, the filling was light as air.

crepecake3


Instead of making one 8-inch round cake with 32 crepe layers, I made 5 miniature cakes (4-inch round cakes with 12 crepe layers). From the beginning, I was really excited to try my hand at making caramel for the candied hazelnut decorations. I even tested my new candy thermometer in boiling hot water to make sure it was working properly. But as the deadline approached, my disappointment grew, and so did my disinterest in this recipe. In the end, I glazed the cakes and just served them with diced strawberries. It wasn't as breath taking and dramatic as "decorative nuts dipped in caramelized sugar and hung in bat fashion" but the tart strawberries were a nice, fresh addition to the all the chocolate and cream.

Would I have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the Daring Bakers' challenge? Probably not. Would I try this recipe again in the future? Definitely not. But despite my failed crepes, I still learned a lot. I hope the other ladies' crepe cakes fared better than mine. See my right sidebar for links to the other Daring Bakers.

Original recipe can be found on Martha Stewart's website.

Modifications I made to the original chocolate crepe recipe:
I decreased the amount of chocolate from 8 ounces to 5 ounces.
I used 3/4 cup flour + 3/4 cup cornstarch in place of 1 1/2 cups flour.
I added 1 tablespoon of Dutch processed cocoa powder.

Modifications I made to the original filling recipe:
I used strawberry jam instead of the hazelnut cream.
I decreased the sugar from 1 2/3 cups to 1 1/4 cups.

I omitted the candied nut decorations.

crepecake1

30 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I'm thinking that the concept here is good. This recipe(s) was a poor execution of the concept. Still your cake looks good and the strawberries look extra good with the chocolate!
Yes I did learn a lot!

Laura said...

Definitely a steep learning curve! And so pretty!

Peabody said...

Strawberry jam...yum. Excellent idea. I was with you the longer the process went on the more I lost interest.

Lis said...

Aww your cakes are so pretty with the red strawberries! And excellent substitution for the hazelnut cream!

I love how smooth your cakes turned out, excellent job =))

xoxo

Helene said...

Look at that shin glaze!! Gorgeous! I beleive Martha dreamt it up one night, told her staff to quickly make a recipe up thinking nobody will attempt it...until 30 ladies try their hands at it!!!
Lovely work. Be proud.

Ivonne said...

Mary,

I think you put it perfectly! I too just didn't feel any interest in this recipe at all.

I think you did an outstanding job with a recipe we all agree wasn't that great to begin with!

Ellie said...

Well, if there's any consolation, the cake looks divine! I take my hat off to you daring bakers, these challenges are difficult but you all seem to pull through :)

Sara said...

Your first and last pictures are beautiful! I agree, I won't ever make this again, but it was fun to try something different that I otherwise would not have made.

veron said...

hmmn... strawberries! Now that is a great complement to this crepe. And the Martha did not think of that. Great job Mary!

Brilynn said...

Despite the disaster that was this recipe, your cake looks beautiful, thanks for participating!

Elle said...

Mary, I'll bet the cake tasted wonderful with the strawberry jam & fresh strawberries. You cake looks beautiful and the changes made to the recipe for the crepes sounds like it would make better crepes. We all are not too happy with Martha just now, but I love your cake.

Freya and Paul said...

I love the shiny gloss you got on your cake! My icing dulled to a matt shine after several chillings. The jam is a great idea too!

Sher said...

I too love your glaze--it looks so luscious! Mine was quite flat looking.

Meeta said...

I was glad to get this out of the way so soon. Because I think I would have been in a panic towards the end of the deadline. I find your cake wonderfully elegant and the jam is such a perfect summertime variation to this heavy recipe.

Ilva said...

Even if I didn't like the cake I really enjoyed all it brought with it, sharing the experience with the rest of you Dbs! Your cake is beautiful!

gilly said...

Beautiful, Mary! I love the presentation with the strawberries, and using strawberry jam to fill... just delicious!

Glenna said...

You know, sometimes I think it is more about what you learn that what actually comes out. Sure, we want something magnificent to wow ourselves and for our family to enjoy but I think sometimes it's just nice to get in the kitchen and play with odd things go together.

Quellia said...

You tried, whether your succeeded with what you wanted or not, trying is all we ever asked of anyone! Great work! I love the minis!

breadchick said...

I think your cake looks just fine and I like the idea of strawberry jam as a filling; especially for a romantic dessert!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Mary, it looks great!! And I'd love to try that filling with strawberry jam - what a wonderful idea!

Cheryl said...

I give you all so much credit for trying these things. That is why you are all called the daring bakers! It looks amazing.

Columbus Foodie said...

Since you used strawberry jam in the filling, I think the strawberries are a better topper than the candied nuts would have been.

It looks good - but very rich. :)

Canadian Baker said...

Your cake looks great - nice and flat on top. The strawberry jam sounds yummy too!

Dianka said...

Wow, that looks STUNNING! I bet it tastes to good to be true!

Chris said...

Even with the challenge of the challenge, this looks wonderful. And, challenges always leave little lessons for next time...:)

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

If anything, you daring bakers are helping me to avoid recipes! I've only read 3 recounts so far and they've all been negative! :) So thanks for doing some of the work for me.

Garrett said...

I'm leaving my partner for that dessert.

Anuhea said...

Wow...after seeing all these different daring baker posts, I think its safe to say I will avoid this cake like the plaque my whole life. Though it does look pretty!

Julie said...

I want a piece of that right now.
Nice job, beautifully done.

Shelly said...

this is one of those recipes I have been wanting to make for awhile...but now I'm not so sure....but it does look stunning!