Listen, Russia, I get that it’s fucking cold and dark 90% of the year there, and there’s nothing else to do besides pose as Americans on internet forums, but why the fuck are your cakes SO DAMN COMPLICATED?
I’m making this chocolate spartak cake for a coworker. The “C” in my place of business’s name stands for “cake.” There’s always cake in the breakroom. But it’s Costco cake. Now, if there’s one truth to know about me, it’s that I love Costco. I FUCKING LOVE IT. And their cake is good, but it’s not THAT good, and we’re also a bunch of spoiled bunch of assholes, so when there’s free cake to break up the afternoon, we complain that it’s the same old cake as always from Costco, but you can bet your sweet ass we all fucking eat it.
I love cooking and baking, but I do very little of both now that I’ve lost so much weight. I eat really simply and am also pretty lazy, so as much as I love cooking, I prefer to spend the few hours I have between coming home from work and going to bed in a near-comatose state on YouTube. But it’s my eastern European coworker’s birthday in a few days and coupled with the same conversation we always have about the Costco cake, I asked him what kind of cake he would want if he could have any kind of cake. This is what he said, so this is what I’m making. It’s the season of giving after all. The cake is complicated of course, but I understand baking: it’s a science. You measure everything by weight and you can’t fuck it up. Right?
Gods, I hope so.
But this fucking cake. Okay. So I followed Tatyana’s directions to a tee. And you know they’re good directions because her name is fucking Tatyana. So as I’m making the dough I’m thinking “I’m not adding any sugar to this. Weird.” I mean, there is sweetened condensed milk, which is basically liquid sugar, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be sweet enough. I continue on and finish the dough, and it’s actually the same consistency as hers and I’m thinking “holy shit this is correct!”
But I didn’t have as much as she did. How the fuck that happened, I will never know, but instead of making 8 layers, I just went with 6 which I still couldn’t get to fill out the 8″ round pans, so I had these floppy fucking dark, floury pads of what I tasted was not particularly sweet at all dough, but fuck it–into the oven they went!
After 10 minutes I had no idea if they were done because you stab these little bitches so they don’t rise and they’re full of dark cocoa, so they don’t change color, and they’re supposed to be hard but also floppy so there’s no consistency I was really aiming for. I took them out and hoped for the best.
Then there was the filling. Tatyana boned me on not having enough dough, but I figured all things being even, I should have enough not-enough frosting to cover my not-enough dough disks. My kitten was really excited about this part because he got to taste a bunch of new things: sweetened condensed milk, heavy whipping cream, butter, and cream cheese, none of which any cat should ever have, but his mom is kind of clumsy and he’s a floor scavenger. But I realized: there’s very little sugar in this either. Where is the sweetness going to come from?
Tatyana says very emphatically to make sure your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature before doing this. That’s all well and good, but I assume room temperature in Russia is a lot colder than here. Regardless, I left those things out for quite a while, but she DIDN’T SAY TO LEAVE THE OTHER STUFF OUT so when the butter hit the other cold stuff it just stiffened itself right up like it caught a glimpse up Aunt Jemima’s skirt and my frosting/filling had chunks of butter in it no matter what I did, and I was afraid I’d over-cream the whole thing and make, you guessed it, MORE BUTTER. So I left the little chunks because, once you taste this stuff, you can’t really tell what’s what anymore. Like, it’s good, but it’s weird.
Assembly was exciting. I envisioned something beautiful with even layers and a smooth finish. But my cakes were misshapen and even though I literally weighed the damn dough for the 6 pieces, I still ended up with a couple smaller than the rest. As Tatyana warned, the higher the cake gets, the less stable it is, but I only did 6 layers and not 8, so I win?
So it doesn’t look that bad, I guess. Tomorrow I’ll drizzle on the chocolate ganache which, like paint, covers a multitude of sins. It will get eaten on Wednesday, sitting for the optimal two days that Tayana suggests because she hasn’t technically steered me wrong so far except about the dough and the frosting, so what could go wrong, hu? What?
But I came to a realization when I thought about the ganache: this is a fancy cake. This is not a sugary confection of tooth-hurting proportions. This is supposed to taste subtlety of things. It’s supposed to be about the textures and the flavors and the high-quality ingredients.
I should have added more sugar.
Oh, also this is blogmas, so here’s a (kinda) Christmas song about food: