Sunday, April 1, 2012

Neapolitan Cake

Aaron's birthday was a couple weeks ago, so I've been pretty busy making sure he was appropriately celebrated. Game days, baking, and shopping kept me on my toes and away from the blogosphere. Happily though, all our endeavors should lead to some fun posts to entertain the interwebs.

Like Aaron's Neapolitan birthday cake.

Aaron has a story he loves to reminisce about in which he and several of his friends would regularly stop by a little doughnut shop on their way home from youth orchestra rehearsals. They would eat doughnuts, drink milk, and be generally merry. Apparently, the shop sold three kinds of milk: regular, chocolate, and strawberry. So one night a few of them got it into their heads that Neapolitan milk was a positively brilliant idea and started taking swigs of all three kinds in succession.

He's adoreable, but that husband of mine can be pretty strange sometimes.

Nonetheless, remembering this story gave me the idea that the food for Aaron's birthday should have a Neapolitan theme. So, my first mission was to create the perfect Neapolitan cake. As per my usual, the idea in my head tends to be a little bit more advanced than my skills actually allow for. (Sadly, things always seem quite straightforward in my head too. Realism hasn't made it to my imagination yet.) I decided I would make a layer of vanilla cake, a layer of chocolate cake, and put a filling of strawberry mousse in the middle. Then I would frost it with vanilla frosting, cover it with chocolate ganache, and put some nice fresh strawberries on the top. No problem!

Everything was going swimmingly until I tried to put a nice thick layer of mousse in the middle. My mousse recipe hadn't stiffened up as much as I thought it would and when I placed the vanilla layer on top of it, a bunch came spilling out the sides. I thought I had it cleaned up enough to frost it, but during the process, more kept oozing out and the frosting became a messy, gooey hybrid with the mousse and just pooled up around the bottom of the cake. At this point I quite seriously considered throwing the whole thing out the window.

But instead I finished a thin layer of the strawberry mousse, scraped all of the gooey mess off and threw the whole thing in the freezer while I made a new batch of frosting. Had I been thinking on my feet, doing this in the first place could have avoided the giant mess I made, but c'est la vie.

This was before all the filling started falling out. Had it actually survived this way, the image in my head was potentially going to happen.

Once I had the cake constructed I'd run out of patience to make it particularly pretty, so I whipped up a batch of ganache and just dumped it over the top. On the day of Aaron's birthday, (I made the cake a few days in advance and froze it) I cut a couple of decent looking strawberries in half, placed them on top and called it a miracle.

At least it was a tasty miracle.

Excuse the color balance. I'm still getting used to my new camera.

The recipes I used are as follows:

Vanilla Cake
Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Mousse
Buttercream Frosting
Chocolate Ganache

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