Recipe: zebra torte
It’s a battle for time, energy, and daylight hours. I haven’t endeavored on many of the more involved baking projects since I’ve been well enough to ski. After my initial ski whore phase where I was willing to tele any thin veneer barely covering grass and rocks, I have now reached the picky phase – only if there are freshies. We had no such freshies yesterday and so you get the recipe for Zebra Torte.
slice layers from the vanilla chiffon cake
I made this once before in my pastry skills course last spring. Problem with that course was that we crammed as much as we could into each 5.5 hour class and wound up divvying duties between partners which meant I didn’t get my hands on each step of the torte.
folding in the dry ingredients for the chocolate roulade
Being the control freak that I am, I figured it was high time to go through the steps myself. I have a love-hate relationship with these multi-stage desserts. I like the complexity, but they don’t lend themselves to a carefree afternoon project. They require you to commit from the start and see it through to the end – NO QUITTERS.
spread whipped cream over the roulade
In essence, the recipe calls for a vanilla chiffon round cake, a chocolate roulade sheet cake, simple syrup, and two batches of whipped cream. Sounds easy enough. The vanilla chiffon needs to yield two 1/2-inch layers (I use the dome top for other things – stay tuned).
measure out 1.5 inch wide strips on the frosted roulade
The base of the cake is one layer of vanilla chiffon cake, brushed in vanilla simple syrup. What comes next is the Swear Like a Sailor step. I suppose I underbaked my roulade because of my elevation. It’s amazing what two minutes’ difference can make. After brushing the roulade with vanilla simple syrup and spreading one batch of whipped cream over it (I used Amaretto instead of rum to flavor my whipped cream), I cut it into 1.5 inch strips with a sharp knife. Here’s where it gets messy. Starting with one strip, roll the strip up like a ho-ho. The base of the cake stuck like nobody’s business to the parchment, so it required some encouragement from a spatula. Rolling the first strip was simple.
rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, keep em doggies rollin’
Place the end of the strip you just rolled flush with the next strip and continue rolling to make an even bigger, more unwieldy, and fabulously messy ho-ho. Do this with the whole damn roulade. I know if the roulade has greater structural integrity, it doesn’t come out looking like such an abomination. Of course, you don’t want to bake it too dry because it will crack. In anycase, it’s fairly forgiving as long as you concentrate on maintaining the spiral. After the second one, I have to place the roll on its side and wrap the strips.
set the giant ho-ho on the base layer, as centered as possible
Instead of trying to manhandle the ho-ho and place it on the vanilla cake base, I set the base on the spiral (which was on a plate) and flipped the whole enchilada over. Worked like a charm. Then the second vanilla chiffon layer is soaked in syrup and set atop the ho-ho. Everything should fit snuggly into a 9-inch cake ring, which I didn’t have, so I used my 9-inch springform ring.
get in there and stay in there
To frost, whip up the second batch of whipping cream and be sure to apply a crumb coat to the sides of the torte lest ye want random chocolate crumbs swimming about the frosting.
crumb coating fills in those unsightly gaps too
Frost the rest of the cake with the whipped cream and decorate as desired. You can pipe whipped cream flourishes, make chocolate decorations, adorn with fruit – your choice. I fancied me some raspberries.
who would guess what lies beneath
It wasn’t quite the zebra I was expecting, more like a drunken wildabeast. I’ll nail that down next time, but the texture and taste was quite to my liking. Light and moist. You’d never guess the calories you were scarfing down… I wouldn’t mind inserting several horizontal layers of the roulade and whipped cream in place of the verticals, but then it wouldn’t be a zebra anymore, eh?
adapted from CSR Pastry Skills Course
1 9-inch round vanilla chiffon cake
8 oz. simple syrup flavored with 2.5 tsps vanilla
1 chocolate roulade sheet (11.5×17-inches)
24 oz. heavy whipping cream
3/4 oz. confectioners sugar
3 oz. brandy, rum, etc. (I used Amaretto)
fruit or chocolate for decoration
vanilla chiffon cake
makes 2 11×17-inch sheets or 2 9×3-inch rounds (you only need 1 round)
this recipe originally intended for baking at 5300 ft.
14.5 oz. cake flour
8.75 oz. confectioners sugar
6.75 oz. whole milk
6 oz. canola oil
3.25 oz. eggs
0.5 oz. baking powder (omitted at 8500 ft.)
13 oz. egg whites
9.5 oz. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oven 375°F. Prep pan by buttering bottom and sides. Place parchment in pan and butter the parchment. Sift dry ingredients (except granulated sugar) into a large bowl. Mix all ingredients (except the 13 ounces of egg whites and granulated sugar) in the large bowl until combined. Whip whites and granulated sugar to medium peaks. Fold into batter gently. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and remove from pan. Let cool completely on a rack.
4 oz. sugar
4 oz. water
Heat water and sugar in a pot until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and turn off heat. Let cool. [Add the vanilla to the cooled syrup.]
makes one half-sheet pan (11.5×17-inches)
1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder (omitted at 8500 ft.)
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 tbsps granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line half sheet pan with parchment and spray with non-stick spray or brush with butter. Sift dry ingredients (except the sugar and cream of tartar) together. Set aside. Whip together the egg yolks, 1/2 of the sugar, the salt and the vanilla extract on high speed for 5 minutes or until it ribbons. The color should be a pale yellow and the volume should triple. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl with a clean whip attachment to just soft peaks. Slowly add the rest of the sugar while whipping the egg whites on a higher speed. Whip to medium peaks. Sacrifice one-third of the egg whites into the egg yolks. Once that is mixed in, add the rest of the whites and gently fold them in. Sift the dry ingredients again over the eggs and gently fold them in. Quickly, but gently spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed, about 6-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with parchment. Invert the cake onto a cool half sheet pan. Cool completely. Remove parchment paper.
To make Zebra Torte: Place a 9-inch cake circle on a half-sheet pan and place a 9-inch ring mold on top of the cake circle. Slice the vanilla chiffon into two even layers no more than 1/2-inch thick. Place one layer on the cake circle and brush with vanilla syrup. Moisten the chocolate roulade with vanilla syrup. Combine 12 ounces of the heavy cream with the confectioners sugar and 2 ounces of booze. Whip to medium peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the moistened roulade and cut into strips 1.5 inches wide. Begin rolling one strip, cream side in, into a spiral. Join the end of another strip to the end of the spiral and continue rolling the spiral. Repeat with remaining strips to create a spiral about 9 inches in diameter. Carefully place the spiral into the cake ring on top of the vanilla chiffon base. Moisten the remaining vanilla chiffon layer with vanilla syrup and place it on top of the spiral. Wrap the cake in the ring in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours until the whipped cream layers have set. Remove the plastic wrap and gently lift away the cake ring. Combine the remaining 12 ounces of heavy cream and 1 oz of booze and whip to medium firm peaks. Crumb coat the sides and frost the entire cake. Decorate as desired.