This is not so much a variation as maybe a loopy spin-off. A friend’s son is turning 30 and she asked me to do the cake for his party ? estimated # people 35-40. The birthday boy loves caramel so when I saw Hector’s magnificent cake, it seemed like the beginnings of an answer.
Here’s where things went loopy. Or creative? hmmm I’ll let you be the judge. First, I decided to cut back to a 9” round tier with a 7” star-shaped tier on top. That was related to available pan sizes. Sound about right for the numbers? There will be a ton of food at the luncheon party, but this is the only dessert.
Next: The birthday boy cannot abide the taste of alcohol in his cake, not in the syrup or the bc. I know because I made their wedding cake. The Amaretto syrup is out. Maybe a touch of brandy, but only a touch. Dismay, dismay! Then I saw that Hector and others sometimes use canned peach syrup. Hooray! Rose says in TCB that peaches and almonds have a natural affinity, and I still planned to use almonds in the caramel. Also flaked almonds on the sides of the cake because I’m hopeless on roses. (Sorry Hector, I’ll try another time.)
One adjustment led to another. Frost with Rose’s peach cloud cream instead? And use the caramel silk meringue buttercream as the filling? What do you think? Do those flavours all work together?
I also wondered about substituting almond biscuit for one of the layers, maybe the bottom one? That is, each tier would have 3 x 1” layers—the bottom almond biscuit and the top two biscuit de savoie. Does that add something or just make the cake unnecessarily complicated?
Lastly, have I ended up with a cake design more suited to summer and/or an all-female guest list? That’s a lot of questions, I know. But I’d really welcome some input from forum members. Bravo, btw, on the Copper Topper and all your other amazing baking achievements, Hector. I’m in awe.
p.s. Forgot to mention that the party is next Saturday! Figured I’d do a small test cake for a dinner party I’m going to on Tuesday night. Yikes, no pressure!
Carol, GO FOR IT and do whatever makes you happy. I am eager to hear your results with your creative thought.
My advice would be to stick to the flavors of the original recipe. The Caramel Silk Meringue Buttercream DOES NOT have one drop of alcohol in it. The taste is for the caramel lover, and in fact everyone else, as it is a light caramel taste on a superb custard base like Creme Anglaise.
I think almond biscuit will work, instead of plain biscuit plus Amaretto syrup. Be sure to apply syrup (plain) as I believe almond biscuit needs syruping, too.
Can I be really honest with you? NO-ONE has ever guessed that the biscuit was soaked with Amaretto syrup or any other type of alcohol. The alcohol tastes of Amaretto is very light to begin with since it is a very sweet liquor. When I open my bottle of Amaretto I can never think it is alcoholic. If you make the cake one day in advance, most if not all alcohol should have evaporated, really the amount of alcohol in proportion to the rest of the ingredients is so minimal, you won’t even notice much at all.
I’ve just made a large batch of Mousseline Buttercream, with the recommended quantity of alcohol. I used straight Absolute Vodka, and let me tell you, the smell of alcohol plus all the licking that I do to not waste anything made me drunk on the spot. Vodka is one of the purest forms of alcohol sans sugar to mask it. When I open my bottle of Vodka I fear it is just like rubbing alcohol! But, after 2 days (refrigerated and airtight too!), there is no longer anyone who could tell me that there is any type of alcohol on the buttercream. When I open the lid, I immediately smell the alcohol that has been evaporating and concentrating on the air space of the container, this goes out quickly.
I think that caramel is one of those tastes that should be enjoyed clean without masking it with other flavors. Amaretto combines well with caramel, but not sure about using fruit.
Hector, you’re a sweetheart! Thanks for such a prompt and full reply. I’m rethinking the design based on your comments and another look at the individual recipes. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of Rose’s Celebrations book with the recipe that inspired you. But as you said in one of your posts, all the elements are in TCB. I also had a look back in my records to see exactly how I solved the booze flavouring problem in this guy’s wedding cake back in 2001. It’s got to be really subtle for him. I have some ideas. But right now, I need sleep! More soon, probably after I do the test cake Tuesday.
Anybody else have comments? Particularly about the idea of adding peaches into the flavour mix? I’ll probably go back to caramel SMBC for the frosting as in the original, but I wonder still about using peach cloud cream for the filling. Rose writes that it’s excellent for frosting and decorating a genoise. And the biscuit de savoie can be used interchangeably with a genoise. As a filling though, might the cloud cream just soak into the cake instead of staying firm (or firmish) between the layers?
Carol, can I be pushy? Don’t add more flavors to this cake! The peach cloud cream may overpower the caramel and custard tones; and also overpower the wonderful vanilla bean seeds, in my opinion. I grow my own Tahitian vanilla beans, and when used on the Caramel Silk Meringue Buttercream, you can tell it is present and should be enjoyed alone as is.
Not sure if you have made Silk Meringue Buttercream before. It has enough steps to keep you busy plus the making and incorporation of the caramel into it. Silk Meringue Buttercream has a fair amount of Creme Anglaise and Italian Meringue, the completed product served at room temperature or slightly chilled is very close to a whipped cream or cloud creme, if not better. You will be surprised how light, not so sweet, and not so greasy is the Caramel Silk Meringue Buttercream.
A word of advise, don’t burn the caramel, as it will give a bitter burn taste often associated with caramel that hasn’t been executed correctly. Good custard flan comes from non-burned caramel. If you burn the caramel, throw it away and make new, after all you are just dumping sugar.
One idea that came to my mind, is that if you don’t want to use Amaretto, use almond extract instead (but very few drops really). But you are probably reading my mind now, and think you should really use Amaretto. Moisten your Biscuit layers 1 day in advance, keep refrigerated well wrapped; I promise when you remove the wrapping after 1 day, the alcohol will rush out and escape, leaving the cake with just a very wonderful delicate taste of sweet almond plus all other secret ingredients from Amaretto (di Saronno please).
I’ve made this cake 3 times already, following the original recipe, just changing the shapes and presentation. It is the taste that people tells me and ask me to make the cake again for them! Most recently, one guy told me to add liquor on it, not knowing it had Amaretto already!
Patricia, thanks for your comment! I’m sure you’re right. That was my worry, too, since I tried last summer to use the very similar Lemon Cream Illusion as a filling. It was too limp! I was able to rescue the situation by mixing it with some bc that I had on hand—mousseline if memory serves. It wasn’t like one of Rose’s regular, reliable fillings, but the guests at my sister’s wedding loved it. Necessity can be the mother of some strange inventions, can’t it?!
That’s why I thought to try the cloud cream as frosting, which Rose does recommend, and keep the caramel smbc as filling. But on reflection, I agree with Hector’s advice to stick closer to the original recipe. So here’s my plan.
I’m keen to try the peach flavour in there somewhere as well as the almond biscuit for at least one of the layers. So for the test cake, I’ll put that on the bottom. That is, start with a circle of almond biscuit cut from the roulade sheet. Then a layer of peach cloud cream. No syrup for the almond biscuit in this case, because of the wet filling.
That’s what tests are for, right? Trying new things. But from that point, building upwards, I’ll revert to the original design with a couple of minor changes: 2 x 1.5” layers of biscuit de savoie instead of 1” and I’ll tone down the alcoholic content of the syrup for the savoie. Use Amaretto but less, and mellow it with a splash of English gin. Can’t remember where I learned that, but it works! At least, it works with Grand Marnier syrup over choc genoise. Caramel smbc for the next layer of filling and all the frosting.
My shopping list is made, other prep in progress. Should be able to start baking tonight. The test cake will be 4” high, a little less if the cloud cream soaks into the roulade. We’ll see how that goes, but mainly how the cake tastes! Will let you know.
p.s. oops! I see by my email inbox that Hector’s written another generous reply. Don’t ever worry about being pushy with me, Hector! I love the give and take between bakers who respect one another. It often leads to magic. Forgive me if I go ahead with my current plan for the test cake (time is marching!). If it doesn’t work, my fallback for Saturday’s cake is to do just as you say: stick to the original and just vary the shape/presentation. Sure wish I had Rose’s Celebrations book. My local library is on strike!!! But your previous posts and pictures have been invaluable. Thanks again!
Thanks again, Hector. Have read your most recent reply more carefully now and appreciate the input. One more quick question, if I may? When you did the star version, what did you use to help you in trimming the 10” layers in the star shape? I looked for images online to use as a template for the 7” tier, but didn’t find anything I liked as well as yours.
Carol, I am liking your latest design, I think it will be fantastic.
How about you cut your test cake in half, and make 2 test cakes instead? One original and one with the wonderful design you have created, and do report back!
You are already making all the components, for both original and new, so you “can” make 2 test cakes!
Don’t worry on Rose’s Celebrations, it is out of print anyways. The recipe is:
1 recipe of Biscuit de Savoie (including syrup). Add equal weight of syrup to trimmed cake for traditional recipe.
1 recipe of Caramel Silk Meringue Buttercream.
Oh, my “Italian” side is itching in protest and must tell you to NOT add English gin to the Amaretto! It will be unforgivable, and my Italian friends will be happy that at least I’ve warned you of this crime.
Also, do you know that Biscuit de Savoie is originally an Italian cake? The town of Savoie was in Italy before the French took half!
And, I am not using the words “Biscuit de Savoie” anymore because I am tired of explaining my customers that this cake is not Bisquick!!! Now, I use the words “Savoiardi” instead.
good question. I drew my own stencil, and there is a “visual cake illusion.” Cake pans were 10”. The stencil is a star drawn around a circle 11” diameter, 1” more because I wanted the star without very sharp points which could break in crumbles! These dull star points worked out beautifully when frosting the cake.
Bless you, Hector, for all your input and now for sharing your star stencil! I should probably give you my first- and only-born in exchange for all this wonderful help, but her husband might object! heheh Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Will report back on the results for sure.
Reporting today on the test cake results. The circle of almond biscuit roulade topped with peach cloud cream as the base of my test cake was fabulous! A subtle but fresh note added to the flavours of the original Copper Topper. Visually satisfying, too. Took pictures but sadly, left my camera behind. Will post a shot or two when I get it back from my friends.
I had my moments thinking the cloud cream was going to be a disaster. It never got stiff the way Rose says it should. Perhaps I made a math or measuring error, but I don’t think so. Recalculated more times than I can count! Then made the cloud cream a second time, being extra careful to have the puree, sugar and gelatin mixture at the right temp. Same result. A thick, tasty cream that might set somewhat with refrigeration because of the gelatin, but a liquid all the same.
Decided to try the cloud cream anyway as my filling, but first poured both batches into my cake pan and chilled it for two hours. Then piped a caramel buttercream edge all around the top of the biscuit to act as a dam for the cream. Perfect!
The caramel-smbc btw is every bit as yummy as you described, Hector. The smbc seemed a bit different from all the other times I’ve made it. Wondered if perhaps I ended up with too much milk in the caramel because of pouring it in slowly and gently. Hence, less evaporation. But it works.
Last but not least, the savoie. First time making it, and I’m a total convert! Glad I made a test cake though, because I learned a lot. Need to do a much better job of mixing in the egg whites. Nobody but me noticed, but still. You’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t add the gin ? just cut back on the Amaretto. Disaronno, of course. I’m playing with the height of the savoie layers, maybe shorter for the top tier as I did with the test cake. After all, it gets added height with the brittle. I’ll keep the 9” bottom round tier taller with thicker layers of savoie as originally planned.
Carol, thanks for reporting! I will need to try the peach variation, too.
I am a bit confused: did you add amaretto on the smbc? the answer should be no. Amaretto goes on the biscuit syrup only.
Glad you liked the Savoiardi, it is the same as Lady Fingers (the thing you use for Tiramisu). Once moistened it is luxurious. I love the clean aromatic taste of just eggs and flour on this type of cake.
By the way, I’ve been thinking on you and your project all week long. I have made 6 sheets of Savoiardi, and moistening with syrup and Frangelico, full amount. Has NO alcohol taste at all.
Hi again, you two! Sorry for the confusion, Hector. I stuck that sentence about the Amaretto in the wrong paragraph right before dashing out to the dentist. Too rushed and distracted, I guess. You’re quite right, the Amaretto syrup went on the biscuit de savoie, not in the caramel buttercream. I’ll edit the post right away, so I don’t confuse anybody else!
Got my camera back today. Attaching a couple of pictures: the almond biscuit roulade and the sliced test cake with just a few shards of almond brittle on top. The final cake will be two tiers—the bottom, a round 9” pretty much like the test cake but a bit taller, and a 7” star with brittle for the top tier. Thinking about using a small star cookie cutter on the almond biscuit to decorate the sides of the star tier instead of the roasted almond flakes as on the bottom. I look forward to another “go” at the savoie and also getting the brittle pieces a little more like Rose’s, if I can.
Thanks again for your interest, advice and encouragement.
Hi Carol, thanks for sharing! I almost went to my freezer, wanting to thaw this little caramel smbc and slap it on top of amaretto-soaked savoiardi. I am baking savoiardi almost daily in preparation to Katie’s World Cake.
Your roulade looks exactly like mines by the way.
Not sure if I may have confused you, but the cake for the original Copper Topper is Biscuit de Savoie, not Biscuit Roulade. Both are very similar; the difference is that roulade has a little fat and are thinner layers. The recipe calls for generous 1-inch layers of de savoie, measured after top and bottom crusts trimmed; you get this when baking de savoie on 1 1/2-inch pans; sometimes my trimmed layers are a bit over 1-inch and fantastic. I find roulade a little more greasier since the pans on roulade are greased, de savoie are grease-less. I did post one small copper topper log made out of roulade thin layers, just be careful to use very thin layers of smbc! Ok, Ok, I do prefer the taste of de savoie more than of roulade, because I find it cleaner (without the flavor of the greased pan).
I thought your caramel shards were almond or peanut brittle, store bought. Maybe it is the photo. It looks pale and dark, not translucent and light. Perhaps the sugar was heated too high? For this cake, I heat the sugar only until it has barely achieved a very pale gold/yellow tone.
I am practicing this technique of remelting to achieve thin caramel sheets. Always working on aluminum foil or silpat, pour your caramel aiming on the almonds; leaving the spaces in between empty as otherwise you would fill by going back on a second pass. You end up with a sheet with about 25% of holes. Now place your sheet on a preheated oven, 370oF, the caramel will melt and flow nicely to fill the holes.