Monday, March 18, 2013

Tosca Cake

"Hey, we have a recipe that was requested by a reader!"
"Really?" Ruth asked, sounding excited. "Our first Reader Request?"
"Yes indeed!" I told him happily. "Kain has asked us to make Tosca cake. Here, she sent us a link." I pulled up the recipe to show him.
"Ah, the measurements..." Ruth trailed off, looking a little worriedly at the metric measurements listed.
"I can convert them, or just use the scale," I assured him.
"The temperatures as well?" Ruth asked, still a little concerned. "Those do not look like the temperatures at which your oven runs."
"They're not; these are in Celsius."
"Well, if you're sure it will work, it does sound like an interesting recipe to try." Some of his enthusiasm started to return. "I've never seen a recipe like this. Where is it from?"
"This is a Scandinavian recipe, from the farthest north-east part of Europe that isn't Russia. See, it says this cake is especially popular in Sweden and Finland."
"Ah!" Ruth smiled broadly, excited again. "It's always fun to try new recipes from far places. Let's get baking!"

Thank you, Kain-san, for requesting this recipe! Let's get started!

As with anything, we need our ingredients to get started! Red is playing with butter and the scale, while Ruth watches from his post atop the canister of flour. Apparently the bottle of milk makes a good resting-post. Hi-chan has the sliced almonds and an eye on Black chasing the eggs. The smaller canister is sugar, and the baking powder is in the middle with no one paying attention to it.

Since the recipe is in metric and I do have a scale and plenty of prep bowls, we opted to measure everything out ahead of time. Ruth has the milk and butter; Black is still chasing the eggs around. Red insisted on taking charge of the baking powder because it's in a measuring spoon. Hi-chan is attempting to sneak between the flour and sugar.

Here we have pretty much all the equipment we need for baking the cake. Archi is cutting out a circle of parchment paper, so that isn't here, but Ruth has the cake pan and whisk, while the others check out the glass mixing-bowl.

Before we get started mixing, let's preheat the oven!
"But what temperature does it want?" Black asks, confused. "It says 180 but your oven doesn't do that."
"350°F," I tell her. This one I know off the top of my head because a lot of things bake at 350°F (180°C).
"I have not seen a recipe in this 'metric' system of yours before, Miaka," Ruth explains. "All the recipes I've found in Draconaria are in the same Standard System of Measurement, the one you usually use."
"The Imperial System is confusing," Archi grumbles softly.
"Conversions are certainly easier in metric," I agree. "We have to live with what we've got, though. This is actually the only country that uses Imperial measurements much anymore. Everywhere else they use the Metric System."
The dragons all look a little perplexed and comment that this seems odd, so I promise to teach them Metric when we're not in the middle of baking something.

We need to butter the pan and line it with parchment. Archi cut the parchment out while we were getting things ready, so now the twins are maneuvering it into place. You do want to use the butter, even though you're putting paper over it, as the butter acts as glue, keeping the parchment paper in place. Otherwise it'll roll up or fall over.

And here we have the pan all set to go! Now we need to make the batter to put in it.

Red helps me pour in the sugar, about 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (60g). Once that's in, I add two eggs.

Ruth takes up the whisk to carefully beat the eggs into the sugar. The picture actually shows the end of mixing, a nice light-yellow frothy sweet-eggs substance.

Red tips the half-tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of baking powder into the cup (100g) of flour. Black is keeping a close eye on the proceedings. Of course, it's more fun to watch the powders move around from the bottom of the bowl, apparently. Red carefully mixes the baking powder into the flour.

With the flour and baking powder sufficiently combined, Red adds some of the dry mix to the egg mix. Ruth suggested adding it in thirds so as to make mixing easier.

Black pours in 1/4 cup (50mL) milk. Liquids can be added all at once, since we don't have to worry too much about mixing them into this, and they'll help mix the dry ingredients in.

Hi-chan helps me tip in 1/3 cup melted butter (80g). It took about 30-40 seconds on high in the microwave to melt it.

With that all the way stirred in, it's time to add more dry mixture. Red has that under control.
(right) Now everything is mixed in and our batter is ready to pour. This is a slightly thicker cake batter than I'm generally accustomed to, but it flows well enough.

Hi-chan and the twins find good perches to watch from, and Ruth and I work together to pour the batter into our cake pan. The recipe calls for a 20cm (8 inch) cake pan, but the only ones I have are 23 cm (9 inch). We'll get a slightly flatter than intended cake, and possibly a thinner coat of topping. It shouldn't affect anything else, though.

Tap the pan on the counter a few times to encourage the batter to spread out evenly. Everyone is taking one last look at the batter before Ruth puts the cake into the oven.

Black sets the timer for 20 minutes. "This doesn't seem like enough time for a cake to get all the way baked," she comments.
"It's probably not," I tell her. "Twenty minutes will get it firm enough that we can pour on the topping and it won't sink, though."
"Oh, right!" Black giggles. "I forgot about the topping."
"Well, it's time to make the topping now, so let's get everything together," Ruth says.

Here we have all the ingredients for the topping, neatly measured out. Black is perched on the measuring cup of milk, while Hi-chan is keeping an eye on the sugar. Ruth has the sliced almonds and the butter. The butter doesn't need to be melted, but I was on a roll with the microwave. Red is keeping an eye on the flour, once again because it's the only item we're using a measuring spoon for.

We don't need much for mixing up the topping. The twins are keeping an eye on the ingredients at the back of the counter while Hi-chan and Ruth bring the saucepan and mixing spoon.

Ruth puts the pan on the stove while Red turns the correct burner on to low heat. We're not trying to cook this, just melt the butter and warm things up a little.

Now let's mix up the topping! Ruth is keeping the pan in place while Hi-chan helps me add 5 tablespoons (75g) butter. I probably shouldn't have melted it, but it isn't going to hurt anything.

Ruth helps me pour in 2/3 cup (100g) sliced almonds. The recipe calls for 'flaked' almond, but 'sliced' is the closest my local grocery store sells. I think it's the same thing, though.

Now for the sugar. We've measured out 1/4 cup (50g) and Hi-chan is enjoying helping to pour it in. "Now we have Sweet Almonds!" she comments, laughing.

Ruth keeps a close eye on Black as she adds 1/4 cup (50mL) milk. "Don't fall in," he warns.
"I won't!" Black insists. "It's fun to watch it pour out."

Red's turn at last! He happily adds 1 tablespoon of flour. That's everything we need for the topping!

I hold the pot still for Ruth while he stirs everything together. This won't produce a consistent mix, but you want to mix the flour and sugar in with the butter and make sure the almonds are all coated. Leave the completed topping to bubble softly on the stove-top until the timer for the cake goes off.

When the timer goes off, Black goes for the controls to raise the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C) while Ruth pulls the cake out of the oven. Time to put the whole thing together!

Ruth carefully pours the topping onto the partly-baked cake.
Once the topping is out, Ruth and I work together to spread it carefully over the whole surface of the cake, doing our best to make it as even as we can. I think we did a pretty good job of it, don't you?

Ruth puts the topped cake back in the oven, which hasn't quite finished heating up to the new higher temperature yet.

Still at the controls, Black sets the timer for 10 minutes, so that we can keep a decent eye on the topping. We're trying to toast the almonds and set the praline around them, but we have to be careful that they don't burn. It might take a bit longer than 10 minutes. I think ours actually took more like 15.

Everyone crowded around for a good look at the cake as soon as it came out of the oven. I let them stare at the top for a minute or so while I pulled out the wire cooling rack.

This cake is best served at room temperature, so everyone is admiring it while it cools. Well, Ruth and Hi-chan are admiring it. Looks like the twins are trying to decide if they can snatch a bite.

Mmm, yummy cake! This is fairly simple to make and really delicious. I see why it's such a favorite! {Om-nom-nom} All the dragons are too busy eating to say anything more than "Mmm!"

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