Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baking with a little help from our friend Evan Williams

My friend Pam and I made a momentous discovery the other day. Really, we felt that this discovery put us on the level of a Christopher Columbus or an Isaac Newton. Get this: when you mix butter and scotch*, it makes a butterscotch. Isn't that unbelievable? Thank God we got something out of four years of horrendously expensive Ivy League education.

It all started when Pam called me up to discuss our impending baking date. We knew that whatever we made should involve chocolate, and if I have to explain why, then you are probably a hopeless case like my brother-in-law. But Pam also had an open bottle of bourbon left over from a recent social engagement and, looking to put it to good use, we decided to incorporate it into our baking. We scoured the cookbooks for a good bourbon-involving recipe but, alas, we could not find one with the ingredients we had on hand. At last we decided to just make a regular chocolate cake and pour on some bourbon-y glaze.

We picked Dorie Greenspan's Almost-Fudge Gateau for our cake and found our glaze on the Internet. Dorie had recently come to Brown and given a wonderful lecture on the research she did for her book Paris Sweets. Sadly, she did not remember me from our epic meeting in November of 2009, but I'm sure she meets a zillion fans a year and she was extremely sweet and gracious as always, even as I acted like a huge embarrassing dork. However, I don't think that the gateau was all that special. Part of it may have been the way it looked - rather homely, especially after we punctured it all over with chopsticks. Part of it may have been that we didn't include Dorie's glaze. But I think I would have found it to be a little dense and dry if we hadn't added our own glaze and hence made our magical discovery.

As I said, we searched "bourbon cake glaze" pulled a random recipe off of the Internet, but it was a great success! We halved the recipe and had more than enough, which was lucky because couldn't stop eating the glaze out of the pot! It was deliriously yummy, and it soaked the cake all the way through the chopstick holes and made it moist and flavorful. We would recommend leaving the cake in the springform pan while you pour on the glaze so that it doesn't all run off the sides, and then leave it in the fridge for around five to ten minutes so that it solidifies somewhat but doesn't harden so much that you can't cut the cake out of the pan. Also, this is best served the day after, the flavor is much richer after it's had time to sit and soak for a bit. Sometimes, the best discoveries happen by accident!

*And a whole bunch of other crap.

Almost-Fudge Gateau
From Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Blogger's note: I've included her glaze, in case you want to try the gateau with that
  • 5 large eggs
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons coffee or water
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt


  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour, and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

2. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

3. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and add the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted. Transfer the bowl to the counter, and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks, one by one, then fold in the flour.

5. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan, and jiggle the pan from side to side to even the batter.

6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges, and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes, and the center will puff, too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack, and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

7. Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake, and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack, and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack, and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

8. For the Glaze: First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack, so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

9. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water.

10. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

11. Pour the glaze over the cake, and smooth the top with an icing spatula. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature, or slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

Butterscotch Glaze from Bon Appetit

  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Stir 2 teaspoons water and baking soda in small bowl to dissolve baking soda. Bring sugar, buttermilk, butter, and corn syrup to boil in heavy 6-quart saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and melt butter. Reduce heat to medium-high. Stir in baking soda mixture (glaze will bubble). Boil until sauce is golden and slightly thickened, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon and vanilla. Pour on cake.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Related Posts with Thumbnails