Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

02 August 2005

Guava Disaster!

As the (reluctant and resentful) birthday pastry chef of my department at work, I was commissioned to make what the recipe calls a "Guava Chiffon Cake" for the Hawaiian girl's birthday tomorrow. She hadn't tried the recipe, nor had anyone she known tried the recipe.
She handed it to me and I knew there was something wrong immediately: this chiffon cake called for sixteen egg whites in addition to five whole eggs. An astounding seven more eggs than an Angel Food Cake, and this for what was supposed to be a two-layer nine-inch round cake. Needless to say I was right: after preparing the enormous amount of batter called for in the instructions, I filled three nine-inch rounds, and I wasn't at all surprised when all of them rose much higher than they were supposed to (what with all those egg whites it's a wonder my oven didn't explode.)
A much worse problem lay in store for me, though. The recipe wanted me to frost the "Guava Chiffon Cake" with what it called an icing made of a full quart of whipping cream (whipped) to which I was expected to add a cup of guava juice. The directions then said to freeze this concoction and frost (and fill) the cake with it while still frozen. I took this frozen shit out of the freezer and tried to work with it but it was frozen and therefore unmanageable. Letting it thaw even a little made the so-called "icing" into soup and you try frosting a cake with soup. I knew this wasn't going to work from the first, too. It is extremely difficult to frost and fill a cake with whipped cream. It can be done: I have seen it, but there is usually something added to the whipped cream to help it keep it's shape. Cakes are already heavy and if you fill a cake with anything with a thinner consistency than regular buttercream, your top layer will squeeze nearly all of your desired filling out and onto the sides. There are clever baker's ways of combating this, but none of them were available to me and even if some of them had been...
The guava-flavored whipped cream (i.e. guava soup) tasted pretty good, but it was worthless as a frosting. I tried it for a while, but it just melted all over the place. Finally, I scraped it off the cake, dumped it out and tried something else.

I whipped up a fairly tasty sugar icing with guava juice used for the liquid, but I used some older-than-I-thought Crisco to make it and it tasted slightly rancid.
So I tried it again: this time with butter. This tasted even better: the butter and the guava juice complemented one another nicely. Using butter instead of Crisco makes for a runnier icing, but it worked out more or less and I was able to frost the cake with few pains from then on.
I am supposed to top this entire confection with a guava glaze (which is a lot like the lemon filling in a lemon meringue pie except that it's made with guava juice). I saved this task until tomorrow. I couldn't bear to do another thing to this cake.

Preparing sugar icing always makes me feel physically ill, by the way, which is one of the reasons I decorate cakes so sparingly nowadays. Something in the powdered sugar makes me all stuffed up and phlegmatic. Oh... and you'll notice if you read the above carefully that I made two batches of sugar icing, meaning that I had in my condominium four (count them: four) boxes of powdered sugar. Don't ask me why I was stocking up on that shit because I don't really know.

Four movies that I want to see come out this weekend: The Chumscrubber, Junebug, Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 and Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. And there are still seven movies playing in theaters that I want to see (Howl's Moving Castle, Wedding Crashers, War of the Worlds, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Crash, Hustle & Flow and Elevator to the Gallows.) I need to quit making desserts and get to the cinema. Tomorrow I'm hauling my ass down to the One Colorado and watching the Miyazaki film.