An obscure passage in Genesis states “And God said: let there be bagels, and there were. And it was good.” I found and joined the website Chefsteps.com this weekend. One of their detailed recipes describes how to make homemade bagels. Go to their website and search for bagels for the procedure. While making bagels at home is a relatively long process much of it is waiting for the dough to rise, or cool or knead in the mixer. I estimate it required 1-2 hours of actual man (person) time to make them. It required about 20 total hours with all the resting, rising and cooling, most of it being overnight.
Unformed 65g dough
Dough rolled into balls
Final baked bagels
I had to make one substitution and one modification to the published recipe. I did not have malt syrup to add to the boiling water. Instead I used molasses. I could have used honey, but the comments said this produces more of a “Montreal” bagel. The molasses was spot on. Also, to increase the pH of the water I used baked baking soda. Baking baking soda (I could have worded this differently, but this was more fun to write) drives out water and carbon dioxide, reducing the positive charge, thereby making the baking soda more alkali and more similar to lye. This enhances the maillard reaction which provides the crunchy, slightly blistered brown bagel surface.
Saturday October 28, 2016 was our granddaughter Grace’s baptism. Around 60 family members and friends attended at a Catholic church in Roseville for a short but meaningful service, then gathered at Frances and Daniel’s for brunch. I was asked to provide a cake for 60 people. (This may be the largest cake I have made.) The specific request was for a layer cake with chocolate mousse filling and a quilted finish.
For 60 servings the cake needed to be about 4″ high and 11″ x 15″. Knowing I would lose a little from the edges to square the sides I assumed there would be at least a few people who do not eat cake (friends of Marie Antionette, no doubt) and I could get away with this size. Therefore I needed two sheet cakes. (Note: about 10 slices were left at the end of the event.)
To have a decent thickness of mousse separating the cake layers I built a dam of crusting buttercream around the edges of the top crumb coated cake. Crusting buttercream has a little more body and will keep the mousse in place. Add a tablespoon of meringue powder to the confectioners sugar to make regular buttercream into crusting buttercream. After the second sheet cake is cool, add the mousse to the damned 🙂 bottom cake. Top with the second layer, crumb coat the entire cake and refrigerate. A cold cake is easier to trim to make nice square edges and setting the mousse will retard the effects the moisture will have on the fondant coating.
I used an electric knife to trim the edges of the cake prior to covering with fondant. After trimming crumb coat the nice, straight smooth edges of the cake.
I rolled out a 17″ x 22″ piece of fondant to have enough to cover the cake. Once it was covered and smoothed, 45 degree crisscrossed lines were embossed into the sides of the cake. Then it was dusted with pearl luster to add a little sparkle to the fondant and little pink rosettes were piped into each intersection of the quilt pattern.
Earlier in the week I made the pink orchid, cross and text backing from gumpaste. I purchased the text from a company that makes sugar images and pasted it onto the backing gumpaste.
YELLOW SHEET CAKE – SERVES 60
- 4 1/2 cups (570g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cup (460g) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 3/4 cups (700g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 cup (480ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Generously grease and lightly flour a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan. The pan should be at least 2″ deep. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3 full minutes until creamed together. The mixture should be a light yellow color. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition until both are mixed in. On high speed, beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
- Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out into a thin, even layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes (less for a half recipe or 35-40 minutes for a double. Actual times depend on pan used, less time for shallow pan, more for deeper, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make sure you rotate the cake pan once or twice during bake time if your oven has hot spots. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack. As the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
- Make ahead tip: Cake can be made 1 -2 days in advance, covered tightly at room temperature.
BUTTERCREAM FROSTING – I made several batches of this frosting
- 4 cups of powdered sugar (or 1 box)
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) of softened butter
- 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons of milk
- Violet food coloring
- Add powdered sugar to mixing bowl.
- Add softened sticks of butter
- Add vanilla. If you want white buttercream use clear imitation vanilla.
- Add 1 tbsp of milk.
- Beat on low until powdered sugar is incorporated. Then move mixer up to medium-high speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When completely mixed the frosting may appear dry.
- Add more milk, a little bit at a time until frosting is the proper consistency.
- Again, for white frosting now add a little violet food coloring. I use the end of a toothpick and add just a little at a time. Mix thoroughly.
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
- 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream
- Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored, then gradually beat in sugar.
- Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot. Temper the eggs by gradually (i.e. slowly, a little at a time) stirring (rapidly) at least half of the hot whipping cream into egg yolk mixture; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.
- Beat 1 ½ cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. By hand fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream to not collapse the whipped cream. Pipe or spoon mixture into serving bowls. Immediately refrigerate any remaining dessert after serving.