Archive for March, 2010

baking cake with mommy brain

Thursday, March 18th, 2010


Blame in on the hormones, or “mommy brain”. In our childbirth prep class last year, we learned it’s partly the pregnancy hormones that can cause women to be a bit, well…”clumsier”. I used to pride myself in my technical precision and fine motor skills, skills which have escaped me to a lesser degree lately. I was, after all, able to trim and paint three rooms without getting a single drop of paint on my hands and clothes. But as I get back into the swing of things, I found myself stumbling with this cake. Maybe it didn’t help that I came up with this one on the fly, the day before it was to be served, but I managed to dump a can of sugar, spill the flour, overbake, etc. Oh well.

This was a cake for my dad. A dense, rich chocolate almond sponge cake soaked with ginger syrup, layered with ginger buttercream and ganache. The top is decorated with homemade crystallized ginger nuggets that I remembered watching Alton Brown making, recipe here. The ginger syrup was inspired by this recipe, except I omitted the vanilla bean and added some Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur after the syrup had cooled. Incidentally, the ginger used to infuse the syrup did not go to waste – I used it to make the crystallized ginger. The cake is loosely inspired by both the “Alhambra” and “Opera” cakes. As I mentioned, the process was pretty much spontaneous as I made up the components as I went along, modifying recipes here and there. Normally I wouldn’t work this way, and have everything planned and organized with recipes pre-determined. Having a baby has forced me to shift the way I work and has definitely given “multi-tasking” a new meaning, as I was making buttercream with one hand, baby in the other.


I do not have a recipe for this one, because 1) I made things up as I went along and 2) I would do things differently the next time. Perhaps my baking is shifting more towards “process” than product. They say baking is a science, an exact art. True that while I am not without my digital scale and laser thermometer, I value my intuition far more…