I don’t have a copy of Baking With Julia. I know, I know… how can I not? I love the show. And Julia Child. Of course I normally don’t then participate on the BWJ posting weeks unless something really catches my eye and I can find the recipe on line. Like this one.
I do love a good baking challenge, which is why I decided to join Tuesdays With Dorie as we bake through Baking Chez Moi. It is definitely the reason I wanted to take on this particular cake. Plus having a 4-day weekend certainly helps when you need close to a full day to make this with all of the different stages. I prepared by watching the episode several times (which you can find on YouTube) as the instructions themselves make better sense when you can see what is intended (I am a very visual person).
Maybe it is just me, but there is something about the making of this cake that really makes one feel close to generations of bakers, pastry makers, and chocolatiers all at once. The techniques needed for this cake are classic techniques. It is interesting because you can see how the classic technique used in the making of this cake has informed even the most modern of bakers like Christina Tosi. I definitely drew on my experience of making Milk Bar cakes to feel comfortable in the techniques needed in the making of this Alice Medrich deliciousness.
The part that I was less comfortable with was the chocolate work. Getting the chocolate on the sheet pans was less of an issue, but making the curls was a little more challenging (though I seemed to kind of get it by the fourth sheet pan!). And then there was the chocolate wrap. I used plastic acetate sheeting that I use for assembling Milk Bar cakes and hoped it would work the same (though I did have to tape two lengths together to make the strip long enough. It was definitely a two person job. My husband turned the cake while I quickly got the chocolate covered sheeting on the cake. I just hoped it would peel off the chocolate which it definitely did. I used a hot knife to trim the top of the chocolate wrap (eating scraps as I went on of course). I could have made the Chocolate a bit thicker in some places, resulting in a few minorly sparse places on the wrap but still mostly ok. I used Chambord in the syrup since that was on hand, and it complemented the raspberries nicely. And the kitchen! The kitchen! I think my kitchen wound up with almost as much chocolate on the counters as was on the cake!
The cake itself is delicious. The chocolate creme fraiche reminded me of chocolate cheesecake. The tangy-ness of the raspberries and creme fraiche complemented the richness and chocolatey-ness of the cake as a whole. The cake is wholly delicate and flavorful and entirely worthy of a coffee house in Vienna.