Simple Vs dolled up: Settling the cake debate
Cakes are an integral part of the special moments and stories that people celebrate. As foodies began experimenting with baking amid the pandemic, the beauty and flavours of cakes have gone a notch higher. Anything and everything one sees around can now be designed into a cake in varied flavours. Some cakes look like a piece of art, making it difficult to imagine them as edible items. While many people find them appetising, others feel it’s too much for a cake.
“We tend to ruin cakes in a bid to make them beautiful. When one takes the first bite they are supposed to relish the slice of cake and not the garnish. The lesser the garnish, the more one can enjoy the original flavour of the cake,” says Santosh Rawat, executive pastry chef, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar.
How a cake looks is important but how it is made is a game-changer, believes Jitender Kumar, chef at Pink Box. He says, “Baking a cake is an art in itself. The cake, from the sponge to the flavour, has to be blended in a manner that no ingredient overpowers the other and at the same time the flavour retains its authenticity.” For baker Bhumika Malhotra from bakewhiplove, using limited ingredients is the key. “I believe in minimalism. The subtle the cake, the better! I don’t like the idea of going overboard with decoration or overloading the cakes.”
The basic ingredients of a cake includes flour (all purpose, gluten free), fat(oil, butters), leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda, eggs), and flavoring agents (fruits, vanilla, coffee, chocolate). Other than the ingredients, it is equally important to understand the oven beforehand. Malhotra says, “Before baking a cake one must know their oven, all its functions. Preheating your even on the same temperature which will be used while baking is essential. Do not peak the cake by opening the oven door over and over again, then will result in sinking of the cake base. Bake it well so the skewer comes out clean with no batter on it.”
To not go overboard with the look, remember that less is more, says Juhi Pahwa, baker at The Better Binge, who is known for her refined sugar and gluten-free food items. “Use a mix of macarons, flowers, chocolate garnishes, fresh berries. I don’t like to do shapes and fondant work. I prefer to stick to what I know the best, healthy and delicious-looking cakes. I usually do ganache or yoghurt frosting. The one thing you must take care of is the colour of your frostings. It shouldn’t leave colour on your tongue after you’ve eaten the cake. Ganache must be firm enough to hold the cake yet soft enough to melt in your mouth,” says Pahwa.
However, chef Abinas Nayak, winner of a cooking reality show, thinks differently. He loves to customise his cakes with flavours that are made naturally from fruits and compotes, and present them with edible flowers, crystals and decorations. “Sometimes, overdoing it creates the charm and beauty of the cake. So, the key is letting the flavour come out. Edible objects’ cakes are super fun and a piece of art in every slice, technical, as well as colourful,” says Nayak.
Fondant cakes are indeed on the sweeter and costlier side. “If you’re not a fan of having a lot of fondant on your cake, you can always ask your baker to not cover the cake with it. The elements on the cake can be made of fondant while the base can be covered with buttercream or icing. Making of a fondant cake requires hours of hard work, precision and creativity, which goes into making the detailed characters and elements of the cake,” says Kumar. Sugar sheet cutouts are also a great alternative for fondant cakes.
For the cake
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour 3/4 cup cocoa powder1/2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp baking soda 3/4 cup melted butter 1 cup caster sugar1 tsp vanilla extract½ cup milk + 1tsp vinegar1 cup curd
Instructions Pre-heat the oven to 180*CLine a baking pan with parchment paper. In a bowl add cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, mix well as set aside. In a bowl mix milk and vinegar and set aside Add melted butter and castor sugar in a bowl and beat together to incorporate air and add curd to the mixture later. Add dry ingredients in the butter-sugar and curd mixture, add milk-vinegar mixture in parts. Mix it all well till well combined without flour pockets. Add vanilla essence to the mixture and give it a final mix. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 180*C for 25-30 minutes
For frosting 1 cup melted chocolate 1/2 cup fresh cream Instructions -Add hot fresh cream on melted chocolate and mix well. -Allow it to rest for 2 hours at room temperature.-Once the cake cools down. Cut it into desired layers and add chocolate frosting between the layers. - Finally, cover the cake with the frosting!
For decorationAfter allowing the ganache/ frosting to set at room temperature for 2 hours, fill it in a piping bag with a start nozzle. Apply equal and constant pressure to the piping bag while making the start design. Repeat till you cover the top of the cake.
By Bhumika Malhotra, baker
Author tweets @ruchikagarg271