Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering to Remember

*UPDATE* The gala's dessert auction raised a total of $1650 (even with half the attendance of previous years)! Congrats!

I need not tell you that today marks one of the most pivotal points in world history. While it is inspiring that we continue to pause a moment on this day even when only 10% of the soldiers who served in World War II are still with us, I often wonder who we forget to remember, appreciate and thank for their work each and every day to better the lives of others. I'm of course speaking of those who do put their life and livelihood on the line physically everyday, the hard-working police, paramedics, firefighters, rescue workers and of course currently serving military personnel. But I feel that we often fail to think of and give thanks for our "everyday" heroes who work hard so that somebody's - even if it's one person's - life is just a little bit better, a bit easier, that day.

People like our transit workers who get us to work, our line cooks who help us out when we're too tired to cook, our janitors, garbagemen and street cleaners who clean up after us, our doctors and nurses who treat us, and our teachers who enlighten us. There are many others who line the streets, fulfilling vital roles that keep our world spinning smoothly. So I want to take the time to pause and say thank you to everyone who does something selflessly for others, which can be anybody, any day - those who hold the door for the baggage-laden traveller or gave the person on the street who met their glance a smile. And though they cannot read (but who knows!) I think of our ever-loyal service animals who help people see, hear, prevent injury or provide comfort to those in need.

It is in this spirit of remembering all those heroes in our society that I'm sharing with you this cake. I was fortunate enough to be asked by the wonderful people at the Simcoe chapter of Autism Ontario to donate a cake again this year for their charity gala's dessert auction. Though I have made this cake many, many, many times before (if you can't tell, this is year #4!), it's always a special event for me because it means that I can, in a small way, give back to those who help everyone affected by ASD. This time, the cake turned into five layers of dense, rich, moist dark chocolate cake with a hint of malt from barley flour, Ovaltine and (of course) a bottle of beer. The filling was laced with a hint of cocoa, and got a nice shot of Godiva liqueur along with the "beer caramel" syrup I cooked down from the remains of the bottle. Then, as per all the previous cakes, the finished stack got drenched with two coats of bittersweet ganache and whimsically decorated.

Due to the extra layer of cake I somehow wound up with, I have to say that the layering and stacking of this beast was trickier than the other times. I don't have or use dowels for my cakes, so they inevitably began to slip around as I was spreading that luscious filling. However, I had what I (humbly) call a moment of brilliance that afternoon - I simply placed the filled cakes on a sheet of extra-wide cling wrap, brought up the sides, and clipped the rings of two of the springform pans I used to bake the cakes around the tower before chilling it down into a more solid stack.
See? Works like a charm!
Then, all I had left to do was quickly mask the beast with the last of the yummy filling, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes, then gloriously bathe it in the molten truffle-like ganache. Needless to say, not diet food. But gloriously good for the mind and spirit!

Do you take time regularly to pause and think about those around you who help make your daily activities possible? Who is your personal hero?

Charity Cake 2011
Serves 20
1 ½ cups stout
½ cup brewed coffee
1 ½ cups salted butter
1 ½ cups Demerara sugar
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups dark cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups barley flour
1 tbsp malted milk powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups full-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Liberté Méditerranée)

Filling
½ cup stout
2 tsp Demerara sugar
16 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup shortening
¼ cup salted butter, softened
2 tbsp Godiva liqueur
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp sifted dark cocoa powder

Finishing
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Decorations, including (but not limited to): silver dragees (butterfly trails), yogurt pretzels (wings), jujubes (bodies), green sprinkles and sanding sugar (grass), chocolate rocks, and coloured butter cream (flowers) 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, grease and line three 9" spring-form pans.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine stout and coffee with the butter and bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in sugars until blended, simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Add cocoa powder, whisking well until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  7. In another large bowl, beat eggs and sour cream together well.
  8. Beat in the slightly cooled beer mixture.
  9. Fold flour mixture into the batter until everything is completely combined.
  10. Divide batter between pans, making one pan only “1 layer” tall (i.e. 1/5 of the batter).
  11. Bake 40 minutes, then remove “shorter” cake. Bake remaining cakes about 15 minutes longer, or until a tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean.
  12. Cool completely in tins, then chill before filling and frosting.
Filling:
  1. In a small pot, cook stout and brown sugar over low heat until reduced to 2 tbsp. Cool completely.
  2. Cream together the cream cheese, shortening and butter in a large bowl until creamy.
  3. Beat in the reduced stout, Godiva liqueur and vanilla, then gradually add icing sugar to your desired consistency.
  4. Chill 2 hours before use, store unused portions in the refrigerator or freeze.
Finishing:
  1. Level and slice each “tall” cake in half horizontally, to form 4 layers. Level the “short” cake.
  2. Place one layer on a cake round.
  3. Spread with a generous dollop of filling, top with another layer of cake.
  4. Repeat until the cake is stacked. Chill until stable, about 1 hour (I found it easiest to encase it in the spring-form rings - see above).
  5. Coat the cake in a thin layer of the remaining filling/frosting to seal in the crumbs and even the sides, chill until firm.
  6. Make the ganache, allowing it to stand 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly, then pour over the cake (placed over a wire rack to let excess run through) in 2 or 3 coats, waiting 5 minutes in between each coat.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 755.6
Total Fat: 43.6 g
Cholesterol: 126.5 mg
Sodium: 215.3 mg
Total Carbs: 96.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.9 g
Protein: 8.7 g

Et Voila!

1 comment :

Nancy/SpicieFoodie said...

Hi Sarah, What a cute and delicious cake for a great occasion. Congrats on the amount raised. Also thanks for being a part of the YBR this month :)