Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Birth Day Cake
I recently had a birthday. It was a very good day with lots of well wishes, cards, presents, and a cake. But it started me thinking about what an odd thing it is to celebrate your birthday. You are queen (or king) for a day with no chores, no hassles, just your choice of cake, your choice of dinner, and presents (at least, that's how it works in our family.)
So what is it the birthday girl (or guy) did to deserve all this attention? Arrive. Yup, that's basically it. You just show up, take a breath, and all of a sudden you're a super star. But who made it all possible? Who put in the work to make it happen? That's right, the mother. 9 months of pregnancy, up to 3 days of labor, excruciating pain, possible surgery, and she gets nada.
Why doesn't the mother get the credit and recognition every year? She's the one who should get the cake. She should also get to retell the birth story every year, in graphic detail, including how long the labor was, how much it hurt, and how many stitches were required. And the baby that she birthed should give her a thank-you gift every year.
Since my mother lives in another state, I couldn't share my birthday cake with her. Which is too bad, because it was really nice. I usually go with a chocolate overload cake, but this year I wanted something a little lighter. I had some nice, ripe mangos on the counter, so I chose a recipe that combined layers of sponge cake with a delicious mango mousse. Topped off with fresh mango puree, it was lovely.
Sorry you couldn't have a slice, Mom. Thanks for giving me life. Oh, and there's a little something for you at The King's English. :-)
Mango Mousse Cake
- adapted from Sky High - Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups cake flour
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light rum
2 cups diced mango, from 4 or 5 mangoes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup plus 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
2 Tbsp light rum
1 cup heavy cream
1- Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Line the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans with rounds of parchment paper. Place a large bowl and beaters from a hand-held electric mixer in the freezer.
2- Place the eggs in a large heatproof bowl. Gradually beat in the sugar and the vanilla. Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until all the sugar dissolves and the eggs are warmer than body temperature. Remove from the heat and, with the mixer on medium-high, whip the eggs until very fluffy and stiff enough so that a slowly dissolving ribbon forms from the dripping batter when the beaters are lifted.
3- Sift the flour and return it to the sifter. Carefully sift about a third of the flour over the top of the eggs. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold it in. Repeat with the remaining flour, folding just until blended evenly. Drizzle the melted butter over the batter and gently fold it in. Divide the batter between the three prepared cake pans.
4- Bake the layers for 12 to 14 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the layers cool completely in the pans. To unfold, run a butter knife around the rims to gently release the edges of the cakes. Tap them out gently and remove the paper on the bottom of each layer.
5- In a small saucepan combine the sugar, lime juice, and water for the rum syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil until the syrup is reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove from the heat and add the rum.
6- Place the mango chunks in a medium saucepan. Add the water, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 to 15 min. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
7- Transfer the cooled mangoes, along with any liquid in the pan, to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Remove 1/2 cup of the mango puree, stir in 1-1/2 Tbsp of the sugar, and set aside for garnish. Place the remaining mango puree in a large bowl.
8- Put the gelatin in a small glass or ceramic dish. Add the rum and let soften for about 5 minutes. With a microwave on low, heat the gelatin until dissolved, 10 to 15 seconds.
9- Whisk the gelatin and remaining 1/3 cup sugar into the mango puree until the sugar dissolves.
10- In the large chilled bowl, whip the cream until stiff. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream into the sweetened mango puree.
11- To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate, flat side up, and soak it with 1/4 cup of the Rum Syrup. Spread one 1/3 of the Mango Mousse over the layer evenly. Repeat with the second cake layer, using another 1/4 cup syrup and another 1/3 of the mousse. Add the last cake layer. Soak this with the last of the syrup and mousse. Chill for about an hour, to allow the mousse to set up. Garnish with chopped mangoes, if desired.