Friday, August 6, 2010

Gnashing Over Ganache

I got a text from Terese today. It said,"How are you doing?"

As it happened, I was in the middle of angsting over a batch of hazelnut ganache. So I texted back, "my hazelnuts are toasting". Because I was indeed toasting my hazelnuts.

Let's all sing (in a Christmas-y fashion, please) together, shall we? Ahem. Hazelnuuuuuts roasting on a grimy stoooovvvee.. I'll clean my stove after this wedding cake project is done. Maybe.

So anyway, she replied, "it's hot here too."

HAR HAR HAR! You're so funnnyyy, Missy. C'mere and I'll toast YOUR hazelnuts...

This wedding cake project is moving along right on schedule. I think. I don't know for sure because in spite of making several wedding cakes in the past, I have never made the same cake twice.


I think the reason that I haven't is because I enjoy all the sampling and experimenting and tasting that goes on in discovering new recipes for cake and frosting and fillings. And although all this R and D adds new experiences to my culinary repertoire, it also means that I can't ever think back to a previous cake and just simply do it again with a reasonable expectation that it will require a similar timeline.

The cake layers are baked and wrapped and chilled.

My mom has made a zillion wedding cakes, and this is her trick for baking a level cake: take strips of a terrycloth towel, pin them together, saturate them with water and then fasten them tightly around the cake pan. The water in the fabric will insulate the pan so that the outer edge bakes at approximately the same time that the inner part of the cake does.

It works pretty well.

Today's order of business is to make the ganache filling and get a head start on the several batches of Swiss meringue buttercream required to ice and decorate a three-tiered cake. I find myself somewhat intimidated by the ganache, after reading reviews of several recipes. The ones that people respond by saying, This turned out terrible! It all turned to solid brown muck! It's so haaaarrrddd to make good ganache!!

I've made ganache before. Actually, it's a really simple thing to do, and I know it. I'm puzzled at my attitude, but realize that I just need to approach this thing with some confidence.

I think it's time for me to recall the advice my dad used to give me before making my naughty pony behave or coaxing a reluctant cow into the barn: Give 'er hell! You can do it - go after it like you're killing snakes! Not kidding here. This is Dad's one size fits all situations pep talk, be it before wrangling a farm animal or sitting for my exams to become a registered nurse. So far, it's actually been a good strategy. I've never been mushed under a horse or cow and I passed my licensure exam with flying colors.

All righty, then. I approached my ganache recipe with renewed determination, never allowing one thought of graininess or solidifying to enter my mind. I toasted and chopped nuts with abandon. Scalded cream fearlessly. And turned out two spectacular batches of filling.

No, those are not lumps or air bubbles in the midst of that velvety shiny chocolate. They're bits of perfectly toasted and chopped hazelnuts. Mmmmmmm.....

Yeeaahhh. Thanks, Dad.

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