Among the chefs presenting cakes were Daniel Carter from Go Fish, who made a peaches and cream creation, and Silverado Resort’s Ivan Rodriguez, who made a tropical-style coconut cake. Laura Wilcox from the Culinary Institute of America made a dazzler, a red velvet cake, shaped and decorated like a crown, and FabriceDubuc from the Carneros Inn made a fanciful chocolate sponge and raspberry cake embellished with teddy bears. Auberge du Soleil’s Paul Lemieux’s amazing chocolate creation was filled with crème brulee, chocolate mousse and ganache. Penelope Jane, who makes wedding cakes and “edible touches” outdid herself with a splendid recreation of the hospital, right down to green frosting trees and the parking lot.
The winner’s prize, determined by a panel of five judges, went to Dorian O’Connell, pastry chef at Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville for her splendid, elegant white cake embellished with a white chocolate replica of the statue that graces the front of the Queen. A graduate of the CIA, O’Connell is no stranger to pastry competitions and was the winner of the 2005 U.S. Pastry Competition Gold Medal. She has also worked on several chocolate and sugar showpieces that have been featured on various Food Network programs. Her Strawberry Twist Cake was as luscious as it was lovely, and she shared the recipe for Register readers — written in grams, which is the way precise pastry chefs work. For those who might prefer an easier route, the cake will be available at Bouchon Bakery for a short time.
Makes one 8-inch cake
100g all purpose flour
100g almond meal
Add the flour, sugar, and salt in a kitchen aid bowl. Cube the cold butter in 1/2-inch cubes, add into dry and mix until it is a crumble. Refrigerate and grate through a cheese grater or a glazing rack. Put a 1/4-inch layer of streusel in an 8-inch cake ring. Bake at 350 F for 5-8 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
90g almond flour
30g granulated sugar
30g all purpose flour
Combine all the dry into a food processor and mix for 2 minutes to make the almond powder finer. Add the eggs and mix in the food processor. Melt the butter to 75 F and add to the mixture. Whip the whites with the sugar to soft peak. Remove the top mixture from the food processor, place into a large bowl. Fold in the soft peak egg whites. Divide into two 8-inch cake pans Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.
1 pint of sliced fresh strawberries, from the farm on Silverado Trail, divided into 73g strawberry puree and 250g diced
13g granulated sugar
Put the puree and half the sugar in a pot. Mix together the pectin and sugar in a small bowl. Bring the puree/sugar to a boil and add the pectin mixture. Mix on heat for 3 minutes. Add the diced strawberries and lemon juice. Set aside.
It is best to have all the components done before starting the cream due to the gelatin setting up fast.
290g heavy cream
40g powdered sugar
40g pastry cream
2g vanilla paste
1 drop orange oil
Combine the gelatin and cold water in a bowl let sit for 5 minutes. Whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar to soft peak. Put the pastry cream in a bowl and add all the flavorings. Heat the gelatin mixture to 145 degrees F and add to the pastry cream fast with a whisk to prevent lumps. Fold in the soft peak cream. Use immediately.
Assembling the cake:
Place plastic wrap along the sides of an 8-inch cake pan to prevent the cream from sticking or use an 8-inch ring lined with acetate.
Place the streusel layer down first in the pan.
Add a 1/2 inch layer of the Cointreau cream.
Add the first layer of the almond cake, followed by a 1/8 inch film of strawberry gelée.
Add another 1/2 inch layer of Cointreau cream.
Add a layer of sliced strawberries and then top with the second almond cake.
Finish with generous layer of Cointreau cream and freeze for 5 hours.
To unmold, dip the pan in warm water to release the cake.
Place cake onto a cardboard circle and decorate with fondant (available a local cake stores).