Sunday, November 27, 2011

November Daring Bakers Challenge: Sans Rival

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I definitely did.  In fact, I still have leftovers.  I just ate the last of the turkey, which I stuffed inside a grilled cheese sandwich with goat cheese and cheddar cheese.  Yum.  But onto more important things than leftover turkey: this month's Daring Bakers Challenge!

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers' host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert- the delicious Sans Rival cake!  And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

Okay, I'm all about trying new (and sometimes strange foods), but that second recipe was like a coconut cake (yum) with salted pickled eggs on top.  Uhh, eww.  So I obviously didn't make that.  But it was optional, so I didn't do it and I didn't get kicked out of Daring Bakers.  Phew. 

I did, however, make the Sans Rival cake.  "Sans rival" is French for "without rival." *I don't even speak French and I figured that one out.*  Anyway,  the cake is basically layers of dacquoise (which I had to look up on Wikipedia- "a dessert cake made with layers of almond and hazelnut meringue and whipped cream or buttercream.")- except the traditional Sans Rival cake has ground cashews.  This is all layered with French Buttercream.  Gahhhh! 

I have made French Buttercream before.  Once.  It's a lot of work, but oh my, is it worth it!  My go-to buttercream usually consists of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and whatever flavoring I want to use.  A French buttercream has egg yolks and syrup, astronomical amounts of butter, and it is so creamy and fluffy and silky that I could dive into the bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer and swim around in it forever. 

Okay.  That's kinda gross.  But you get the point.

This challenge was definitely fun.  And yes, it was a bit challenging...but not as hard as I thought it would be.  Start to finish, this took about 2 hours.  Unlike the last challenge that took all day. 

This recipe used a LOT of eggs.  10 to be exact.  All separated.  Yeek.
I was trying to make my egg yolks pretty and one decided to break on me.  Boo.  

The host said we could choose whichever nuts we liked (I chose walnuts- so yummy with the chocolate!) and we could flavor the cake/icing however we wanted.  I decided to go with chocolate cake and stick with the basic traditional icing. 

I took this into work to share and everyone who tried it absolutely loved it.  The cake is very light, almost chewy/crispy (I know it doesn't make sense.  Trust me.  It's great.) which is a great contrast to the somewhat rich icing.  It's not too rich, though (well, that's what people said anyway- nothing is too rich for me).  One lady I work with really enjoyed it- she is not a sweets person at ALL and only ate a few bites, but she said this could be a wedding cake.  What a compliment!  Apparently this cake is supposed to be served cold, but I feel that the icing has a better consistency when it's room temperature.  I don't typically discriminate when it comes to icing temperature - I eat it frozen - but when this icing is cold it almost feels like eating pure butter.  Which could be a good thing.  Or a bad thing.  I don't know.  Anyway.  Try this, hot or cold, and you decide.  It's really good- and not too horribly difficult.  
(P.S. Like my photo collage up there?  I finally am learning how to use Picasa to do cool things with my photos). 

Sans Rival Cake
Serves 12

10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, not traditional)
2 cups chopped, toasted cashews (I used walnuts)

1.  Preheat oven to 325.
2.  Line cake pans (I used 2 9" round pans and baked in 2 batches) with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
I use this stuff.  It's the bee's knees. 

3.  In a large, clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (about 2 minutes).  Sprinkle with cream of tartar.  Gradually add sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form (about 7-10 minutes).  Add in cocoa powder along with sugar if you're using it.

Look at those stiff shiny peaks.  Gorgeous. 

4.  Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.
I chopped mine up in my Magic Bullet.  They look like graham cracker crumbs, but they're definitely walnuts.

5.  Divide meringue into 4 equal parts.  Spread into pans, evenly to edges. 

6.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly.  Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm. 

Oops.  That layer broke.  I just smooshed it back together- it's getting slathered with icing anyway.

7.  When cool, trim edges so that all layers are uniformly shaped.  Set aside.

French Buttercream

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional flavorings (I used 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

P.S.- You need your Kitchenaid for this one.  Unless you want your arm to fall off. 

1.  Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl.  Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
2.  Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only, until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235 degrees.

3.  With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added.  Be careful and don't burn yourself with the HOT syrup!!!  Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 minutes).  Still on high, beat in the soft butter one tablespoon at a time.  Add flavoring after you beat in the butter.  Refrigerate for at least one hour, then whip smooth just before using it.


Set bottom meringue on a cake board (or in a humongo cake pan if you're like me and seem to have lost all your cake boards and turntable) with a dab of buttercream to hold it in place.  Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top.  Repeat with thin layers of buttercream, meringue, etc.  Finally, ice the top and sides of cake with the rest of the buttercream.  Decorate with reserved nuts. 

Quite pretty!

Not so much anymore.  Still looks delish. 

You can totally tell I put the broken layer on the bottom.  Did that stop me from eating it?  Heck no.


I'm kind of sad I gave most of this away.  It's sounding mighty delicious right now.  Oh well.  I have plenty of other baked goods on the horizon.  I have a few recipes I made for Thanksgiving that I want to share with you.  Plus, I'm taking a trip to Savannah this coming weekend for my birthday!  I'm so excited.  It's my favorite place in the world and I will definitely come back with lots of pictures and lots of food to talk about. :) 

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