Sunday, May 29, 2011

Strawberry-Blueberry Frozen Custard Cake

Every good baker messes up at some point, right?

This cake was quite an experience. It started out, I was assigned the task of bringing dessert to a memorial day barbecue. Easy enough, make something strawberry-blueberry, always tasty and red white and blue! I found this recipe, and it looked easy enough, sponge cake with a strawberry mascarpone filling, figured I could add some blueberries, and voila!

I've never made anything with gelatin, and honestly, didn't know much about mascarpone at all, but it sounded yummy...but wait! There's an alternative ice cream cake version?!

I just started working at an ice cre- er, excuse me, a frozen custard and sorbet shop, for the summer. It's close, air-conditioned, and I get free custard, what could be better? So I popped down to work and picked up a quart of vanilla.

Now, looking at the comments on this recipe, a lot of people were having trouble. People had issues with the filling being too runny, or not setting, or there not being enough. Other people couldn't get the cake to rise. I figured hey, I'm an awesome baker, I have a blog and everything, AND I'm doing the easier, ice cream version! What could go wrong? (I believe in English class, this would be called "foreshadowing")

Just mixing the cake batter, I could tell something was wrong. I used the alternate, fluffier version. It calls for one bowl with the egg whites and sugar, which looked fine, and the other bowl with everything else. The "everything else" looked a little stiff to me, like a stiff cookie dough consistency. I tried folding the egg whites, and they were having none of it. I skipped the folding and went straight to mixing, which I knew would ruin any chances I had of the cake rising. Even then, I couldn't quite get it to combine all the way.

Low and behold, the cake didn't rise. It was way too thin to cut in half, so after freaking out for a few minutes, I figured I'd just do a cake layer on the bottom. I chopped the strawberries, and busted out the custard to mix it all up.

Now, frozen custard's a lot like soft-serve (except that it has pasteurized egg yolk in it, and less air beaten in, giving it a smoother, creamier texture. I had to memorize the whole schpeal for work) and it melts really really fast. By the time the fruit was all mixed in, a good chunk of it was liquid. I figured it would at least make it a lot easier to get it between the standing strawberries if it were softer!

I didn't realize however, that spring-form pans are NOT waterproof. Thus a big puddle of melted custard was left behind on the counter. I freaked out and put it in the freezer, in the hopes that it would set quickly. It didn't. I eventually put it on a jelly-roll pan in an attempt to contain the mess, but it was too late. I've since spent the last two hours or so spooning the melted custard back into the pan, but I know that it's soaked into the cake by now and is one big, gloppy mess. Guess we're going to be eating strawberry goop for a while, back to the drawing board...

What I Would Do Next Time!

-Not use the alternate, fluffier cake. The folding the egg whites into the dough was weird, I'll stick to the normal version. Better yet...
-Use a box cake mix. Don't judge me, I can bake cookies and pies 'till the cows come home, but I've never quite mastered the art of scratch cakes quite as well as my buddy Betty Crocker.
-Frozen the cake. Another recipe I saw suggested freezing the cake before spreading the ice cream, so it won't get squished when spreading out the hardened ice cream.
-Frozen the custard after mixing in the fruit. It was a runny mess, I think that was my biggest problem of all. While the custard was close to freezing, the fruit I mixed in was at room temperature, so it kept the custard from setting up quickly enough.
-Not do the big strawberries around the outside. They're pretty, but once they're frozen with the ice cream, they turn into frozen blobs of brain-freeze


  1. delightfully well written...and you make our mixer look so professional!