When man (or woman) made the first cake, they called it “Kaka”. Translated in my language, it means shit. It probably looked the same when the Vikings first made it, but its far, far from it now.
The evolution of cake, from when it was first made in the 17th century to the mirror glazed glory it is today, has been a real transition. True, that holds for everything, from the discovery of fire to the invention of wheel. But how a big blob of flour and sugar turned to be a million dollar industry, a trend, a cult, haute-couture and so much more, is awe-inspiring.
A little history- The Vikings modified their everyday bread with sugar, and called it sweet Kaka. The Greek used beer to add volume to cake and incorporated goat cheese and olive oil to make it fluffier. In South India, creative home makers learnt to mold Kesaribath- a sweet made with semolina, sugar syrup and ghee- adorned it with cashew and almonds to make it look like a cake.
Vintage cakes had gucky buttercream and were adorned with lilies, roses, tulips, chrysanthemums. A decade ago, fondant cakes were trending because of the more realistic look and the variety of options fondant modelling offered. Today its back to a minimalist method and technique of designing – mirror glazing. Regardless, the evolution in terms of taste, appearance and design is something that cannot go unnoticed.
But, cakes are a lot more than that.
There are millions and billions of stories associated with cake. A birthday, an anniversary, an indulgence, sheer size and shape of the cake.. so many stories. I bet every one has a story or a memory with cake in it.
For me, the best cake memory is eating a big ball of apple cake- a mixture of left over cakes and buttercream formed into a giant ball and rolled in desiccated coconut- while walking the 1 km at stretch from the store to my house, carrying a bag full of groceries in my other hand. The cake was often my reward for completing all the chores that week.
I have jumped with joy every time I made something new and it looked, tasted good. But the first time I made a tiny mirror glazed cake.. err.. there is another cake story!
I made a delicious vanilla sponge with coconut, white chocolate mousse and a caramel pineapple in the center, wrapped the mold in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight. My mum, who could not resist, scooped out a big chunk of the cake and obviously, the structure was destroyed. I ended up making this half-circle mirror glazed cake, with no icing on one side and balanced that with a caramelized slice of pineapple.
Here is the final dessert. Though it did not turn out the way I wanted it to, (a clean white shiny block of cake, specked with more shiny bits of bright yellow pineapple and a dusting of snow-flake like white chocolate and coconut) I am flattered that it was irresistible!
To make coconut- white chocolate mousse:
50 gms white chocolate
1/2 coconut cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup cream
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp gelatin
Heat the 1/4 cup cream and add it to chopped white chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and mix gently till it forms ganache. Once lump-free, let it sit in the refrigerator for 20-25 mins. Meanwhile, whip the coconut cream till firm and separately, let the gelatin bloom but adding a tablespoon of water to it. With an electric beater, whip the hardened white chocolate ganache till fluffy. Separately, whip the whipping cream with the sugar and set aside. Yes, thats a lot of whipping!
Combine the coconut cream and white chocolate ganache, gently. Microwave the bloomed gelatin for 30 seconds till liquid. Add the gelatin to the chocolate-coconut mixture. Gently fold in the whipped cream and set aside.
Place a vanilla sponge cake in your mold and brush it with pineapple juice or sugar syrup. Pipe in the mousse to cover an inch with mouse. Gently place a canned or grilled slice of pineapple. Top with more mousse, and another layer of sugar syrup brushed sponge cake. Finish with more mousse, wrap with cling film and let it chill in your fridge overnight.
Note: This makes one tiny cake, enough dessert for two people. I use a ring mold of 10 cm diameter.
There is a lot of wastage when a cake is mirror glazed. Especially for a cake of this size, it can be very difficult. Here is how you can make just enough to ice this tiny cake. Weighing is crucial here!
50 gms white chocolate
30 gms condensed milk
22 gms water
3 gms gelatin
16 gms sugar
Combine water, sugar, condensed milk and heat it on low. Meanwhile, let the gelatin bloom and microwave it once done. Use a strainer to add the hot condensed milk mixture to the white chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes and start whisking or use an stick blender till you get a smooth, lump-free mixture. Add the gelatin and color(optional).
The ideal temperature to use this on cake is 33 C. But, if you dont have a candy thermometer, just dip a finger in, check if it just warm to the touch and viscous enough to pour over the cake. Pour the icing (like seen on videos), tap gently a couple of times and let it sit in the fridge for a further 5-8 hours.