I had a two-cake weekend, catching up with Le Succès, then doing Sybil's Pecan Torte with Coffee Cream for this week. I'm doing the write-ups in reverse to at least have the pecan torte posted in concert with the other Heavenly Cake Bakers. I don't have many pictures of the baking process, which I suspect is because a) it's a quick and easy cake and b) hey, a two cake weekend (after 7 days away on a business trip).
The weekend's two cakes had a lot of similarity in method, though the results are nothing alike. Part of this is that both use a common strategy for cakes that are kosher for Passover, using ground nuts instead of flour. So: similar is the ground nuts with sugar, folded into a mixture of beaten eggs. That nut mixture is baked, then a frosting-surrogate is applied. (OK, stretching the similarity thing here...) Differences are egg yolks and whites in the pecan torte vs. egg whites in Le Succès. This cake bakes as a cake, not as meringue disks. Then there's the "frosting"--whipped cream here, a ganache in Le Succès.
The pecan torte begins with toasted pecans, ground with sugar. Then the yolks of the eggs are beaten with more sugar until very fluffy, and the ground pecans are folded in along with coffee extract. I made a dash over to the farmer's market for the extract just before starting the cake, as my King Arthur espresso powder had clumped (Georgia humidity!) and I didn't want to mess with grinding it back to a powder just then. For once I could get the brand Rose mentions and locally, too--Nielsen-Massey coffee extract. As soon as I added the extract the batter had a wonderful coffee smell. Last step for the batter was to beat the egg whites until stiff, fold them into the mixture, and pour it all into a springform pan, sides ungreased, bottom lined with parchment.
I punched quite a few holes in my cake checking the temperature for doneness--it took the full 40 minutes (perhaps affected by my opening the oven a few too many times). I inverted the cake onto a rack to cool, thinking that the cake would stay in the pan and hang above the rack like an angel food cake cools. My pecan torte, however, came out onto the rack, leaving a nice grid pattern on the top of the cake and rather ugly sides with a thin 'peel' of crust coming off in places where it had stuck to the pan. 'S OK--the top of the cake all gets covered up with a bounteous pile of coffee-flavored (more extract) whipped cream stabilized with gelatin. If appearance had been critical, I could probably have removed that peel of crust from the rest of the cake for a uniform look, but I didn't bother.
Taste results: I loved it--wonderful flavors, loads of whipped cream, a nice bit of texture from the ground pecans which I didn't attempt to reduce to a 'flour' being too afraid of having pecan butter. My brother also really liked it. Older niece, who has abandoned several cake pieces half-way through, polished this one off. Younger niece did too, though she saved the ganache bits from Le Succès as "best for last". I'm making a note to repeat this one next year.
I do have to confess that the tasting panel might not have been completely impartial, here at the end of Passover when the matzoh is looking rather uninteresting. Though I'm not Jewish, I often provide some type of Passover cake or other dessert during the holiday. This year, however, I was gone, then The Folks Next Door left on a trip before I got back. Last night was the first night of Passover when we were all in the same city, and so the 2 Passover cakes for the Heavenly Cakes bake-along were welcomed.