What is Fika?

What is Fika?

In Swedish tradition, Fika is a break - a pause - in your day to indulge in the simple pleasures of a good cup of coffee or tea, some sweets or pastries, and time shared with friends and loved ones.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

House Cooling

"Don't it always seem to go/ That you don't know what you've got/ 'Til it's gone."

Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell

Thankfully, this isn't always the case. With friends, every time we get together, it's another reminder of the times we've spent together, how loved we make each other feel, and how much we value the impact that we had, and will have, on each others' lives.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Something strange...

Something very strange happened today...

... I won something on a draw today. This usually never happens to me; it's always the number that's 1 digit off, or the number I had for the last draw. Feelings of unluckiness may be universal human condition. After all, charity lotteries do have to make some money at the end the day.

But today, things were different. The wind must have been blowing off Lake Ontario in the opposite direction.

Kara Buntin writes a fantastic blog called A Cake to Remember VA, which has consistently offered fantastic insight on all aspects of running a cake business. Even more laudable is her consistency. While some bloggers may slack off for a month at a time and try to post a series of entries to compensate (none immediately come to mind) , Kara routinely updates every other day or every couple of days with a well thought-out post.

Thanks to Kara, I soon will be the owner of my first silicon food-grade mold. In anticipation, I've worked out the first cake I want to try it on.

Here's a sneak peek of what may be to come. Hopefully it will be up to par with Kara's work!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Birthday Cake

So far, this is my 3rd covered cake, and marks the 1st anniversary since my first attempt (which coincidentally was a cake for the same friend's birthday). For this, I took inspiration from a flower detail she created as a fashion accessory, and then paired it with a pared-down, simple, white marshmallow-fondant covered cake.

A quilted fondant band covers the bottom edge of the cake to add texture to the overall design. A small bead border joins the two together.

The flower is rather simple and stylized to reflect the original inspiration for the cake. It is rather thick because MM Fondant was used rather than gumpaste.

Two flavours were incorporated into this cake, primarily out of necessity to increase the height of the finished product. The bottom layer is a sacher cake with apricot jam (not a true Sacher Torte, due to the assembly), and the top layer is a white genoise cake with raspberry cream cheese icing. The entire cake was masked with cream cheese icing, before being covered.

Something for everyone!

Sacher Torte

Not everything goes exactly as you plan.

It all started off with a new cake pan from Bulk Barn. I've been hankering for a 6" circular pan for a while. Not only does it make any cake instantly cute by its proportions, but as a single-dweller faced with the prospect of eating everything that he makes, it makes it easy to handle more baking. New recipe? No problem! No longer would I have to fear the issue of finding a herd of willing guinea pigs to consume my latest creation/failure.

The other reason why a 6" pan was so appealing was that I thought it could fit it into my toaster over. Adult Easy Bake oven, says you. But I figured that if I didn't have to fire up the big oven just for one cake, that would be a decent reduction in energy consumption. Everyone wins: Audric gets to bake a cake, and the rest of the world doesn't have to pay [as much] for it.

Sounds great? It certainly seemed so. The cake pan fits perfectly inside; its rim not even touching the top.

Until, that is, I realized that the toaster oven is really quite short. And that the heating element was really quite low. And one more fact I neglected: cakes RISE when baking.


Whoops, indeed.

Thankfully, the smell of burning was just a superficial smell of burning. Just. Instead of being a perfect reduction of a regular oven, mine turned into the tanning-bed-from-hell-that-someone-accidentally-fell-asleep-in-at-full-supernova-power. (Disclaimer: I swear that I do not speak from experience.)

What initially looked like a pretty serious burn didn't actually penetrate into the cake itself, and was easily removed. What was left over was plenty of cake and a level top to work with.

Cake layers, prepped for assembly!

Now that I've recounted the story of how I unceremoniously burnt my cake, let me know tell you affirmatively that the Sacher Torte is a truly dignified, elegant, refined cake. The cake itself is firm, fairly dense, fine-textured, and neither too sweet nor too moist. These layers are then lightly moistened with syrup and spread with nothing else than apricot jam.

Ready for jamming!

The assembled cake is then masked...

Just a thin layer to even out the sides

... and then it is coated with a smooth, glossy chocolate covering. Sophistication, in a cake. Discounting my piping abilities, that is.

The typical Sacher Torte has the word "Sacher" written over the top. Since my writing skills are less than optimal for the task, I decided to use my typical scroll pattern for the sides. It only seemed fitting for such a cake.


Impromptu change in decorations brought to you by: Audric not realizing he doesn't actually have the piping tip size that he thought he did!

There are classics in all genres of human expression: architecture, rock music, cars, movies. Timeless, dependable, universal, these provide a certain stability and structure to the rough-and-tumble course of our daily lives. You can always count on that trustworthy book or that one brand of shampoo to bring you through a rough spot.

One such classic in food is the combination of coffee and chocolate. In hot liquid form or in pastry form, it always provides an adjustable balance between sweet and bitter. One cuts through other, while the other mellows of the former.

In the case of the Opera cake, chocolate ganache and mocha buttercream are layered between almond joconde (sponge) cake layers soaked in coffee-flavoured syrup. The edges of the cake are left unmasked to show off the layers inside.

Less is definitely more, especially with a cake this rich. Go easy on the buttercream and ganache (I think I put a little too much); thinner layers definitely produces a far better experience when eating as all the flavours blend together.