Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1161646/chocolate-and-caramel-layer-cake

This is the cake I made for my family’s Easter gathering last Sunday. I’d never made such an ambitious cake before. I was done with work early on Friday, around 1:30 and found myself with plenty of time to bake and assemble, thinking everything through twice, since I wouldn’t have time to start over.

It took me two hours to mix and bake the first two layers, which would end up being layers 1 and 4 in the end product. I followed Cook’s Illustrated instructions for mixing it together, since my family hasn’t had much success with white cakes in the past (but then, we hadn’t a stand mixer then either). Feel like I should have prehaps sifted the ground almonds, but the recipe wasn’t very specific with those sorts of details. Also, I maybe should have used granulated sugar instead of raw… to make it more white. Washed up the dishes I’d made up to that point while they baked.

Once the cakes were cool enough to remove from their pans, I started on the second batch, which went quicker. Used various shades of brown sugar, since I don’t have all the British ones (at least not at prices I could afford right now). So at this point, one could find this on my kitchen table,

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Looks good already, right? Let them cool for awhile while I washed the dishes and ate some dinner.

Frosting went smoothly enough, though it took a while for the ganache to cool. I’d delayed making it, not wanting it to set up too much before the cakes were ready for it. I’d never used canned caramel before and was surprised by how thick it was, but I managed.

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As you can see from the picture on the left, the gradient layers were working on the outside, at least…. That’s what ‘ombre’ means in this instance, by the way, gradient layers.

At this point, I just had to sit back and wait until Sunday afternoon when it was time to serve it. I had a very hard time waiting for all my nieces and nephews to finish finding eggs! But, once they had, I carefully, ever so carefully, cut into it and found this:

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I’m rather happy with the results and my family seemed to be as well. The two-year old niece said ‘yum’ with every bite and her father had three pieces. For me, it was moist and rich, but, the texture was a little odd (maybe the almond flour) and it could have had more flavor. Still, the family was happy and I got to stretch my baking skills, so that works for me!

Cola Glazed Easter Ham – A Gallery

Last year, I made http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/fresh-baked-ham-with-whisky-and-cola-glaze-recipe.html for my easter ham and this year, my fiancé was eager to have me make it again. His mother gave us a 15+lb ham, so why not? I thought I’d do a step-by-step photo gallery just to be different.

Here’s the ham post-scoring (I enjoy leaving the skin on and having it flavored by the glaze then chewing on it for a while, but he doesn’t,  so next year we’ll take it off):

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Rubbed with spices (I tripled the amount for everything except the Cheyenne pepper):

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Studded with cloves (I space them out a little, they’re not at every intersection, that would be too much clove for our taste):IMG_5528

 

Packed in brown sugar (I lost track of how much I used, it was however much it took to cover it):

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After roasting for 1 1/2 hours (we attempted to compensate for the size difference from that called for in the recipe):

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With the temperature probe, after the first basting:

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The final product:

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The flavor turned out as I remembered it, I’d been concerned that time had altered my memory, but that was all for naught. The sweetness of the cola and the spices are well balanced with the caramelization of the sugar. One does have to watch out for the cloves though!