help with this cake making issue

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by jmclw, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. jmclw

    jmclw

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    I've been trying to perfect making my mother's secret cake and I'm trying to overcome one particular problem. Sadly mom is no longer around so I'm on my own with this. This is a very delicious cake btw and people absolutely love it.

    The cake is a non-bake cake -- which I guess technically makes it a dessert -- that is made using lady fingers dipped in warmed milk with a bit of cognac and cointreau in lieu of baked cake layers. The lady fingers are dipped in the milk to get soft and moist and then are arranged on a serving plate to form a layer. Each "cake layer" is 2 lady fingers high and there are 3 layers of "cake." In between each layer of lady fingers is a layer of chocolate-orange icing with a final layer of icing on top. The cake is then topped with a layer of crushed caramelized almonds.

    The problem I have is with the lady fingers dipped in warm milk. They are very brittle and crumble very easily. The more you allow them time to drain the excess milk the more brittle they become. And still, after the cake is assembled, milk continues to leach out.

    I bought a round pizza pan with holes thinking I could rest the dipped lady fingers on it, let the milk drain out, and then transfer them to the serving plate and build the cake.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions to tackle this problem?

    Thanks

    jmclw
     
  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    It seems that you are soaking them rather than moistening.
     
  3. jmclw

    jmclw

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    correct. they must be soaked so that the entire cookie gets soft. the middle of the cookie is hard otherwise and this is not what you want.

    i often made the cake with my mom when I was a kid and i clearly remember dipping the lady fingers in completely. the only thing I can think of is that she used finger ladies from an Italian bakery. I can't find them anywhere here so I am using ones imported from Italy
     
  4. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Maybe I wasn't clear. I think you need to moisten the cookie throughout rather than soaking it. You seem to be soaking them too much based on the symptoms
     
  5. panini

    panini

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    Try using a spray bottle for you milk. Just spray each side so that they are still a little hard in the middle. Don't worry, they will be moist all the way

    when you finish the cake. have fun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
    flipflopgirl likes this.
  6. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    May I suggest buying a different brand of ladyfingers or making your own.  

    Perhaps letting them dry out overnight before dipping them in milk. Then the milk won't soak in quite so fast before you assemble the cake. 
     
  7. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    As fast as you dip it in the liquid, take it out. I realize you are using heAted milk but if there was ever a problem in a cookie falling apart too fast , it's because of that.
    Try to dip it in cold milk and fast. With all the other liqueurs you are using , the cake will all come together nicely once the cake has set.
    The lady fingers your mom used are probably not the same as what they sell today , reason why she had to soften them with warm milk.
    The lady fingers today are light as anything.

    You make her proud !
     
  8. jmclw

    jmclw

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    thanks for the suggestions. maybe you are right and they only need a quick dip or spray. I can test that out before making the cake to see if the middle does soften or stays hard
     
  9. luc_h

    luc_h

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    I have had similar problems when I switched lady fingers when making a decadent tiramisu.

    I can tell you that Italian lady finger soak up liquid much more evenly than locally made cookies which easily crumble when wet.

    As for dipping, it's hard to get the timing right, I have not tried the spray bottle technique but I know that brushing the liquid on the surface, like painting, of the cookie works well. One stroke per side.

    It takes time for the liquid to make it through and through to soften the cookie but it will.  My technique is brush one side, brush the other than place the cookie in the cake where it needs to be.  I serve my cake 24hours after making it.

    Hope all our suggestions helps!

    Luc H.
     
  10. dhammons

    dhammons

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    This sound delicious, so if you get it figured out, can you please share the recipe? I absolutely love Orange/chocolate combination!
     
  11. jmclw

    jmclw

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  12. luc_h

    luc_h

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    I'm so sorry to hear it did not work for you. Those cookies should work as well as the ones I usually use Savoiardi.

    Did these crumble like the previous ones you used?

    To be clear I use a natural bristle brush


     not synthetic like these


    The difference between our recipes is you use warm milk and I use warm sweetened espresso coffee with some alcohol.

    Maybe for some reason milk does not migrate as well... It should work though.

    i found a recipe that resembles yours. They say to dip the cookies exactly 2 sec:

    http://www.pandespani.com/recipes/dessert/lemon-cream-cake-with-fruit-jelly/

    I think it's now a question of trial an error.

    Luc H.