I was not looking forward to this cake. For one thing, it is seven pages long. I had once thought to suggest Marie to schedule this on a holiday weekend. Before I had chance to make my suggestion, Marie posted this on the schedule for this week. It crossed my mind to skip this cake, but I knew that I would never make if had it not been for HCB, "no turning back" I thought.
Another reason why I hesitated with this cake is that this requires baking the sponge cake evenly, something that never happened to me. I thought that my "charlotte" would definitely be uneven, unlike the nice picture in the book. And then I would be sooo disappointed, having spent all the hours making the cake.
Well, on Friday, after searching a couple of liquor stores for Calvados and gotten the "Cal, what?" and "what kind of liquor is it?" I got to one that carries it. At the price tag of $45 for a 750 ml bottle, I decided against buying it. In absence of Calvados, I decided I had 2 options: 1) use regular brandy and add more apples to the poaching liquid. 2). use peach brandy and hope it works.
In the end, I used the peach brandy and added more apples to the poaching liquid.
On Saturday, while doing my mise-en-place for the sponge cake, something amazing happen. You know when you do the same thing several times, over and over, and it's always the same way, and then one day, you have those "light bulb on" in your head, like you see in cartoons. Well, I thought aha, even though I'm making 1/2 recipes, I should make the full recipe of the sponge cake, so I would have a lot of cake to play with, since they will be uneven.
So I did, made the full recipe of the sponge cake. I haven't made full recipe of sponge cake for so long that I just realized it is easier to fold the sponge cake when it's the full amount. It doesn't deflate as much as if it's 1/2 recipe. And for once, for once, the sponge cake was even. The whole sheet was an even depth. I was so happy I was jumping up and down in the kitchen.
While the cake was cooling, I poached the apples. Nothing to report on this step, it was pretty easy.
The cake cooled, and I measured twice to cut the cake per instruction. Since this is 1/2 recipe, using 7 inch pan, I had to made a 6 1/2 inch circle. That leaves me plenty of cake "strips" for the charlotte. They are brushed with the apricot preserve and into the freezer they went.
On Sunday, I finished the rest of the cake. First was lining the pan with the sliced cake. I didn't really measure as I don't know exactly what 3/8 of an inch is LOL. So I just look at the picture in the book, look at my cake slices and cut. I must say that I enjoy this process the most.
Next was the Apple Caramel Custard. Made the caramel and poured the hot poaching liquid over it. Didn't get burn this time, :) phew! Heat up and stir until all the caramel dissolved and then stir into the egg yolks, then add in the gelatin and heat the whole thing up until it's thick like lemon curd.
Next was the tricky part, and the part that I totally missed when I read the recipe. Apparently I had to time the cooling of the custard until it's a certain consistency before making the Italian meringue and whipped cream. moving on to the next step. The good thing is that the cream is not quite as fragile as the Italian meringue, so I proceeded to whip the cream, and then store it in the fridge while I want.
I gotta tell you that I must have hovered over the custard like a mama bird guarding its nest. I thought of sitting on the couch and read my book, but I knew that I would get sidetrack and then forgot about checking the custard. Plus the instruction said to stir the custard often, so I hovered and did so! After I don't know how long, the custard is almost thick enough and I made the meringue.
Then all 3 components are folded together and poured onto the charlotte mold. Into the fridge it went, for about half an hour. Now is the step that's the trickiest, making the Apple into rose design. I tried to slice the apples somewhat thin and separate the big pieces from the small pieces. With the book next to it to guide, voila, here's the Apple Rose.
Tasting impressions:This cake is DIVINE! The apple caramel custard is a knock-your-socks-off kinda of a dessert. It is so fragrant, I can smell the caramel and the apples in it, even though it's been refrigerated. I love sponge cakes and this one is no exception a winner. As hubby puts it, "when there's a fruit in the cake, it is usually good." This one gets "at least an 8" - which is the highest score any cake every get. As Rose's cake usually gets better the next day, I am so looking forward to having my slice today :).