The first time I ever heard of the group Daring Bakers was the month that they made this cake. I remember looking through blog after blog with gorgeous pictures of this complicated cake and thinking I would never be able to make such a thing. However, after a year of food blogging I have gained much more confidence in my culinary capabilities and felt it was time for me to give this cake a try. My good friend Chelle and I decided to tackle this recipe together. It was nice to have her support throughout this complex process.
Believe it or not (I couldn’t believe it myself), I made the entire cake without a single problem. With so many steps and an elaborate assembly, I was just sure something would go wrong. Especially after reading stories from several Daring Bakers who did have problems with this cake. But it was a huge success and after a year of anticipation, this cake was everything I had hoped it would be. It is a visually impressive, light and summery dessert. The Bavarian cream is (obviously) the best part. I was thrilled that there was quite a bit left after assembling the cake :-) Ben and I both agreed that the flavor reminded us of melted strawberry ice cream – yum! I brought this to my family as a belated birthday cake for my dad and it was a hit all around. My only regret is being unable to photograph the cut cake in my own house. The lighting and dishes at my dad’s leave much to be desired.
Because of the many parts to this recipe, there is no very clear way to write it. I have reformatted it in a way that I think makes the most sense to me. I list the instructions for assembly first so that readers will know exactly when they will need each part of the recipe. All in all I was thrilled with my result and I cannot wait to make this again. I had a lot of fun making something so involved. I may also try playing around with other flavors in the future, as there are many delicious possibilities!
Strawberry Mirror Cake
For the cake:
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tbsp. sugar
2/3 cup cake flour, sifted
For the soaking syrup:
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. kirsch or strawberry liqueur
For the strawberry Bavarian cream:
2 ½ tbsp. unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream
For the strawberry juice:
1 ½ pints strawberries (18 oz.)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water
For the strawberry mirror:
1 ½ cups strawberry juice
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. kirsch
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
a few drops of red food coloring
To assemble the cake, brush the sides of a 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is the exact same size as the bottom side of the pan; cover cardboard in aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan.
Center one layer of cake in the bottom of the pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten the cake. Immediately after preparing the Bavarian cream, pour about half of it over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Brush with soaking syrup to just moisten as before. Pour remaining Bavarian cream over the cake and smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets (1 to 2 hours).
After preparing the mirror mixture, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until set.
To serve, wrap a hot towel around the outside of the springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the strawberry mirror to separate it from the sides of the pan. The mirror will tear when the sides are unlatched if it is stuck at any point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.
To make the cake, preheat oven to 450°. Butter and flour the sides of an 11×17-inch sheet pan (rimmed baking sheet). Line the bottom of the pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit exactly.
Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites begin to form soft peaks. Add the 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff glossy peaks (do not overbeat). Sift the flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in. Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch, 7-10 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along the edge to loosen. Cut out two 8 ¼-inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with wax paper, and set aside. (Cake may be frozen at this point.)
To make the soaking syrup, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in an air-tight container until ready to use.
To make the strawberry Bavarian cream, sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy. Combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl and beat until light. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in the sauce when drawn across the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil! Immediately remove from heat and stir in the gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl placed over a bowl of ice water. Stir in the lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
While the gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.
To make the strawberry juice, wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in a saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Allow to drain for 15 minutes. Do not press down on fruit.
To make the strawberry mirror, place lemon juice, water and kirsch in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
Measure 1 ½ cups strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over a bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just begins to thicken (do not let jell). Remove from the ice water. When the mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until set.