Monday Must Have: Rose's Heavenly Cakes Book and a New Baking Group.

Whew! The weekend just FLEW by way too fast and the first week of February is already a distant memory. But, I have a treat for you today. Not only do I have a fabulous Monday Must Have, I also joined a new baking group based on the book I'm highlighting today.

Let's start with the Monday Must Have. I have had my eye on this book since I heard that Rose Levy Beranbaum was releasing a new book last September called "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" and I finally purchased it last week. You may be wondering what took me so long, but as I've mentioned before, I own a TON of baking books and I was trying to show a bit of self-control and purchase things I NEEDED, not things I WANTED. I had received a Border's gift card for my birthday (last October) and recently received a 40% coupon and I decided it was time to buy myself a belated birthday gift (thank you Jenna!). I can't believe I waited that long.

For those of you who may not know about Rose Levy Beranbaum (the author of this book), she also wrote "The Cake Bible" which happened to be the very first professional cake book I had ever purchased about three days into culinary school (the first class I had was a cakes class) and one that I've used many, many times over the years for information or inspiration. Buying this book brought back memories of the excitement I had when I first looked through "The Cake Bible." Her newest book is full of helpful hints, informative technique descriptions and beautiful cake photographs.

This brings me to the second part of this post: the Heavenly Cake Bakers group, which I recently joined. I had been following this site for awhile now, and after finally buying the book, I decided it was time to join. It's a smaller group and I'm looking forward to getting to know the 29 other bloggers and see their creations too. The requirement is to bake at least two cakes each month and then post on Monday. So from here on out, two Mondays each month will have the Heavenly Cake Bakers posts and the other Mondays will still focus on the Monday Must Have.

Also, since everyone in the group has the book, the purpose is to share our experiences and discuss how the baking process worked, rather than posting the recipe in its entirety. Usually, I will share pictures of the step-by-step process, but this time I was caught up in the enjoyment of baking and I forgot to take pictures along the way.

True Orange Genoise
This week's cake is the True Orange Genoise, which had several components: genoise cake layers, orange simple syrup, orange curd and a dark chocolate ganache icing.

The Genoise Cake Layers
It's been awhile since I've made a genoise, and this one was an excellent one. Rose does a wonderful job of explaining the technique, especially if you've never made one before. She gives many helpful hints and very specific directions each step of the way. I found that these cake layers to be the perfect combination of light fluffiness and a hint of vanilla. The cake texture was due to the Wondra flour used--which is equal parts of cake flour and cornstarch sifted together. I was very happy with this particular formula and will definitely use it again.

Orange Curd
The whole point of this cake was to use Seville Oranges, which are bitter oranges which are used for marmalade, curds and sauces. Also the peel can be candied and the essential oils from the peel can be used to flavor foods. One of the downsides to living in a small town is that we don't have access to ingredients that aren't as common (I really missed the Bay Area when I couldn't find any here), so I used blood oranges, naval oranges, lemons and limes. In combining these citrus' I was able to have a similar flavor to the Seville Oranges, but I suspect that it wasn't exact. The curd recipe was very straight forward and similar to a curd recipe I use often.

Orange Syrup
I used the blood oranges and the syrup was a pretty red-ish, pink color and tasted delicious. When I cut the cake, it had a very cheerful color inside from the red in the syrup and the orange in the curd.

Dark Ganache
Although, I LOVE dark chocolate ganache, I felt that this particular ganache was too dark and too heavy for such a light, sponge cake with the citrus flavors. The recipe called for 60% to 62% cacao, and I used a bittersweet which was probably closer to 67% cacao. But I did enjoy making the ganache in the food processor, which I don't typically use in making ganache (usually I just stir by hand).

The yield of this cake was one 9x2-inch layer, which is split in half. Instead of using a 9-inch pan, I split the batter in two 6x2-inch pans and then cut each in half, creating four layers. I decorated mine a little different than the picture in the book--I added chocolate shavings about two-thirds up from the bottom of the cake and decorated it with chocolate curls and fresh orange slices.

Jill's Thoughts
Overall, I thought this was an easy cake to make, especially since the directions were so detailed and helpful. I loved the genoise and I think that was my favorite part to make. Rather than the dark ganache for the icing, I think I'd try a whipped cream with some orange curd folded in for a lighter frosting--with these changes, it would be a lovely spring dessert.

I think I'm really going to enjoy being a part of the Heavenly Cake Bakers and I'm looking forward to making the next cake and marking some more recipes for future use.