Daring Bakers July Challenge – Strawberry Mirror Cake

Strawberry Mirror Cake 3

My second Daring Bakers challenge has come around so quickly, and this time Peabody set us the challenge of making a Strawberry Mirror Cake. Yet again something new to me, in fact I had never even heard of a ‘Mirror’ cake until I read about our challenge for the month. My second thought, (after ‘what the hell is a mirror cake?’), was ‘Strawberries?… but it is Winter here and they cost a fortune!’. Despite these initial thoughts I ploughed on, and I’m glad I did because this cake was to die for. Beautiful, scrumptuous and just what I needed to help celebrate Leanne’s birthday.

I’m going to jump right in to the recipe and talk about the issues I had along the way.

Strawberry Mirror Cake (Serves 6-8)

Strawberry Mirror Cake 4

Preheat oven to 230C and grease and flour a 28 x 43cm baking tray, or 2 round cake tins (I used 2 x 23cm springform pans). Line the pans with baking paper to fit. Beat together 3 eggs, 3 egg yolks & 3/4C caster sugar using an electric mixer until thick and pale, add in 1tsp vanilla extract.

This was where I hit my first snag. You see, in a moment of genius I decided that I could beat this until ‘thick and pale’ without the help of my kitchenaid, because I only have one bowl and I couldn’t be bothered washing and drying it before beating the eggwhites in the next step. Well, apparently my half assed go at beating them without the kitchenaid wasn’t good enough. I ended up with a thick rubbery layer on the bottom of my sponge cakes – but they still tasted good! So, moral of the story – beat VERY well!!

Next, beat 3 egg whites until foamy, add 1/8tsp cream of tartar to stabilise the whites and continue to beat until peaks form. Add in 2Tbsp caster sugar and beat until stiff and glossy.

My kitchenaid did a good job of this part, thanks Kitchenaid!

Sift 2/3C cake flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in. Stir in a quarter of the egg white mixture and carefully fold in the rest.

Well, I managed to overlook the word ‘cake’ before the word ‘flour’ when I was writing my shopping list and so when I got up to this part I started to panic. What the hell is cake flour anyway? Good old Google told me that it is a low gluten flour, and that I could make my own with a mixture of plain flour and cornflour (2Tbsp cornflour to 1C plain flour for those of you playing at home), so this is what I did.

Spread batter evenly into pan(s) and bake for 7-10 minutes, until light brown and springy. Cool for 5 minutes before cutting out 2 circles about 4cm smaller than your springform pan. Set aside.

OK, not bad for my first go at sponge cakes, even the rubbery bits taste good!!

Now for the soaking syrup combine 1/2C water & 1/3C caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature and flavour with 2Tbsp strawberry liqueur. Set aside.

For the strawberry bavarian cream puree 375g hulled strawberries and strain to remove seeds. Sprinkle 2 1/2Tbsp unflavoured gelatin over the puree and set aside until spongy.

For those of you wondering how I overcame the costs of Winter strawberries, I will tell you a story. It is a little long, consider yourselves warned!

I was ready and willing to pay whatever price they wanted to charge me for fresh, real strawberries, but the night I went to buy my ingredients my supermarket didn’t have any. It was too late at night to try the greengrocers and I was on a bit of a time limit since I wanted to have the cake ready for the next night when Leanne was coming over, so I bit the bullet and decided to look for some less than fresh alternatives.

No frozen strawberries left either, damn! But then I found some canned ones, yes canned. I have never seen them before, not that I have been looking I guess. I just don’t trust canned things, I mean you can’t see what they are like. The other thing is you don’t really know how much you are getting, and the weights on these cans were a little more than dodgy. ‘Total weight 420g’ it says on the front – but that includes the syrup, and I am guessing there is more syrup than fruit in there. ‘Nutritional Information – 4 serves of 110g’ it says on the back. Hang on a second, correct me if I’m wrong, but 4 x 110 = 440g in my book, not 420 as it states on the front of the can.

So I know that they are dodgy, but knowing I have no other choice at that point in time, and trying to tell myself they are going inside the bavarian cream (it’s not like they need to be pretty or anything if they are getting mushed up, right?) and that I can find some ‘real’ ones tomorrow to decorate the cake with. I leave with 3 cans (costing $2.99 each), thinking (or hoping?) that I will have enough for the bavarian cream and the mirror part of the cake.

When I get home and drain the first can the total amount of actual strawberries (ugly, discoloured, horrible strawberries) is just 175g. I come to the realisation that I won’t have enough strawberries to make the mirror as well, and now I am less than pleased. But I soldier on…

Strawberry Mirror Cake 1

Combine another 5 egg yolks with 2/3C caster sugar and beat until light. Bring 1 1/2C milk to the boil and pour over yolk mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail when drawn across the back of the spoon. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl placed over a bowl of ice water and stir in 1Tbsp lemon juice & 2-3 drops red food colouring. Cool over the ice water, stirring until mixture thickens.

In the meantime whip 1 3/4C cream until it holds soft peaks and fold into gelatin mixture.

This was where my late night cake baking almost cost me the pleasure of a wonderful cake. I somehow managed to forget the cream altogether and started to assemble the cake with my bavarian custard (bavarian cream minus the cream). It was only when I didn’t have enough mixture to cover both layers of cake that I realised my mistake and had to scoop out all of my bavarian custard to add the cream. This is why there are splatters of darker bavarian cream on the side of my cake. Not that I want to draw attention to the cakes imperfections or anything ;)

To assemble the cake spray your springform pan with oil and fit a cardboard circle covered in foil into the bottom of the pan. Centre one sponge cake layer in the bottom of the pan, brush with some soaking syrup to moisten the cake, pour over half of the bavarian cream. Centre the second sponge cake layer and cover with remaining bavarian cream. Smooth with a spatula and refrigerate until set, around 1-2 hours.

After my near catastrophe with the bavarian cream, I decided now was a good time for bed and left mine to set overnight.

The next morning I went in search of more strawberries to make the mirror part of the cake and for some decoration. The first greengrocer had them for $4.99 for a 250g punnet, the next for $3.99 a punnet. I bought 2 punnets and wished that I had of gone shopping for my ingredients during the day in the first place, so that I could have avoided the whole canned strawberries nightmare.

Back at home I wash and hull all of the strawberries. Saving 6 for the decoration, I add the rest of them to the remaining canned blobs to get 550g strawberries in total and chop them all up. These strawberries are put in a saucepan and crushed with a potato masher over low heat. Add 3/4C caster sugar & 3/4C water and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through a damp jelly bag and drain for 15 minutes, without pressing down on the fruit.

I used a clean, damp tea towel pegged to a large bowl. It worked quite well. I also used the strained strawberry pulp to make strawberry jam by putting it back in the saucepan, adding more sugar to it and simmering until I got a set. It is delicious!

Place 1tsp lemon juice, 1Tbsp strawberry liqueur & 1Tbsp water in a small bowl and sprinkle over 1Tbsp unflavoured gelatin. Set aside until spongy and soft. Measure out 1 1/2C strawberry juice and place in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and pour over gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve gelatin and add 2-3 drops red food colouring. Place bowl over a bowl of ice water and stir until the mixture is syrupy. Pour syrupy mixture over the top of the cake and refrigerate until set.

I got quite a few bubbles in my mirror when I poured it over. I tried to pop them with a needle, but this didn’t work very well. The best method I found for getting rid of the bubbles was to skim them off with a spoon. For the very stubborn ones I just pushed them to the side as I knew that my decorations would cover them up!

To serve, heat the sides of the pan up slightly. I used my hair dryer on the low setting, but you can wrap it in a warm tea towel if you like. Run a knife around the edge of the mirror, making sure to separate it from the edge all the way around. Unlatch the springform pan slowly. Decorate, slice into wedges and serve.

I decorated my cake around the edges so that the majority of the mirror was still visible. I framed the edges with the 6 reserved strawberries, which I halved. I made dark chocolate curls and white chocolate flakes and put these around the strawberries.

Strawberry Mirror Cake 2

And the last straw in my Winter strawberry fiasco (pun intended)… A week after I made this cake and it was devoured in all its delicious glory, I went to the supermarket to find mega punnets (375g) on special for just $2.99. I almost cried!!

I love the way it turned out. Leanne was impressed, saying it looked like it came from a bakery. I’m glad, because it took a fair bit of work to pull it all off! As for the taste, it was divine.. and I am so glad that I managed to get some ‘real’ strawberries for the mirror part because you could really taste them. Apologies for the not so great photos, but this cake was made before I got my beautiful new camera, which I’m sure would have done a much better job at capturing the brilliance of this cake.

Thank-you so much to Peabody for this month’s challenge. I really enjoyed it!! Make sure you click the link to the Daring Bakers blogroll in my sidebar to see more Strawberry Mirror Cake creations… there are some gorgeous ones out there.

Bring on the next challenge!!!

Why Should I Eat That?

Well I can’t really pretend that this is something you should be eating everyday! But I thought some of you might be interested to know the nutritional information for this cake, I put this together using a program we are using at University at the moment. I used low fat milk and cream, so my nutritional analysis reflects this, even so – there is still a lot of fat in there!!

Nutritional Information (per 6 or 8 serves)

Energy 3623 or 2718kJ, Protein 25 or 19g, Fat (Total) 30 or 23g (Saturated) 16 or 12g, Carbohydrate (Total) 117 or 88g (Sugars) 105 or 79g, Dietary Fibre 1.9 or 1.4g, Sodium 181 or 136mg. 0.5 or 0.375 serves of fruit.

Printable Recipe

26 thoughts on “Daring Bakers July Challenge – Strawberry Mirror Cake

  1. Wow – what a challenge! The cake looks terrific though. Once we finish remodeling our kitchen, this cake is going to be at the top of the list!

  2. I have to say I am super impressed at the epic nature of making the cake, what with the rubber bottomed cake, the canned strawberries, and so on and so forth. It looks gorgeous though so congratulations on July’s DB challenge!

  3. Gorgeous work Tara! I’m glad to hear that you were able to save the cake when you realized your mistakes! I think it is beautifully decorated, and am glad to hear that it was enjoyed by all!

  4. Thank-you everyone for your kind words! I’m about to leave for work now (slept in!), but I will have a look at your gorgeous cakes when I get home tonight…

  5. Okay so I’m thinking you might just be the most devoted Daring Baker of all. heee! Way to go with sticking with the strawberries even if you were forced to buy canned.. And your decorations are top notch, I love the gorgeousness of your cake!

    Well done, Tara.. WELL DONE! =)


  6. Love your write-up. Canned strawberries and expensive fresh ones where they do the most good, a tea towel for a jelly bag and a needle to pop the bubbles on the mirror…a Daring Baker indeed! Sorry I’m late commenting. It is a beautiful cake with the chocolate curls.

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