Monday, December 27, 2010

Sacher Torte and kitchen disasters

 Christmas 2010 has come and gone with all the stress and sleepless nights that preceded it.  Yet all of that was worth it when I reflect on how lovely and happy Christmas actually was.  Many have bemoaned the chaos that all this snow has brought upon our lives, but come on, admit it; there's nothing like a white christmas!!!!  Granted when one has a 4 wheel drive Volvo tank, it's easy to dismiss icy conditions and unexpected snow drifts.  Those with  compact, 2 wheel drive cars really were in trouble and we did our fair share pushing our neighbours' cars when they got stuck.

Despite being extremely pressed for time, I did find time to bake cupcakes for the neighbours and a sacher torte for a friend of mine.  This was my first attempt at a Sacher torte and I probably spent more time researching the best recipe than was spent actually baking!  What surprised me was the range and variety of chocolate glazes that were used to cover the cake.  In the end I chose two different recipes; one for the actual cake and apricot glaze and the other for the chocolate glaze.  The cake recipe was Austrian, and I used a ganache-like glaze that had a higher proportion of chocolate to cream and incorporated butter as well.
All in all the cake came out very well, although I suspect the ganache had cooled a little too much by the time I got it on the cake.  At any rate I would have wished for a smoother finish on the cake!  Being a little tired of snowflakes I opted for christmas roses and holly for the decorations.  I discovered that by mixing burgundy and Christmas red, I was able to achieve that rich, deep red that holly berries really are.  A bit of gloss spray made leaves and berries look more authentic too.  At the last minute I added a red fondant band around the base to hide the slight irregularities.
Now I am on a forced baking hiatus for a week or so as our kitchen suffered several disasters over the holidays.  Namely on the evening of the 23rd, right after business hours, our dishwasher broke down.  That in itself is not an unsurmountable problem, merely annoying as heck!  On Christmas morning I managed to wreak havoc in the kitchen by omitting to remove the ceramic stove covers before heating up some mulled wine to take with us to the stables.  Sure enough the covers exploded, leaving the kitchen filled with acrid smoke, and the stove covered in shattered glass and melted plastic.  Again, once the glass had been cleaned up, the kitchen aired out and the plastic scraped off the stove, no apparent damage to the stove itself. Phew!

The crowning glory of all disasters occurred during Christmas dinner in the evening.  The oven had been left on low to keep the desserts warm.  No sooner had my daughter removed the  desserts and closed the oven door when the door, which was glass (of course!) literally shattered for no apparent reason.  My daughter got a fright but no one was hurt.  It will be well in to the first week of January before we can get that repaired.  In the meantime there will be no turkey pie, sausage rolls or cakes prepared in this house.  An awful prospect indeed!

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