A "Baked Alaska"
& Lessons Learned

Posting mishaps isn't my usual mode of operation, but I came out of this baking experience hopefully a little wiser and
feeling like part of the joy of the foodie community is learning from each other, mistakes and all! Can I share some of my misfortunes with this cake..and also some of the things I would repeat?

First of all I'll start with the repeats, since there are less of them I'll get them out of the way first! For the cake I used a typical sponge recipe that I have used many times before. It is a recipe from the book, "The Harry's Bar Cookbook". Arigo Cipriani states that he uses this recipe in most of his pastry cakes. It has worked well for me and holds syrups and fillings wonderfully. Second, I used the left over rum syrup from my Pisatchio Trifle Genoise. It tasted great as it melded with the cake and ice cream after defrost! Wow, that's about it for what I'd repeat!

Now the lessons learned! :) Contrast with cake and ice cream colors. My son chose the ice cream flavor for this cake because it was for his 15th birthday last weekend. It tasted really good, but it doesn't give the WOW factor when cutting into it! Baked Alaska's are traditionally made with ice cream such as Spumoni or Pistachio. These would be more preferable and much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye! Next, I was horrified at how my meringue turned out, arghh! No gloss at all and it deflated quickly! I am not sure what went wrong, I was trying to retrace my steps but the only thing I could think of was that I didn't let the eggs come to room temperature. They were whipped right out of the fridge! Also I couldn't find my large star tip for the meringue! The last time I made it the meringues looked nice and fluffy, I had used a large tip that I make meringue cookies with! Lastly I would have to say the over all shape didn't thrill me. I made the cake three layers. Two of the layers I sliced to make them even and flat across. The top layer I left alone with a slight dome on top. Well, it really should look full domed or no dome at all. I would have preferred the top being sliced flat and getting the dome look with the meringue!

I'm really looking forward to making this cake again, but totally different next time! If you have made a Baked Alaska before I would love to hear your success stories...or even your flops! :) Ciao and Buon Appetito! Laurie


Lori Lynn said...

Can't help you there, Laur, not a baker me.

Your desire to succeed and commitment to baking quality dessert for your family is awesome. Although you are critical of the result, I bet they love it and love the fact that you care to bake for them from scratch.

And hey, aren't you supposed to light it on fire too?!!! hehe

Proud Italian Cook said...

You were horrified on how the merinque turned out?? At first glance my jaw dropped! I think it looks stunning! You are a perfectionist Laurie, and way to hard on youself. This is truely a thing of beauty. I can name a ton of people that would jump for joy if they saw this on their table! i would be one!

Tom Aarons said...

Laurie, this still manages to look absolutely wonderful and thoroughly delicious! I for one am very impressed.

glamah16 said...

Whats the problem? It looks yummy to me!

Vera said...

Laurie, first of all, congratulations and best wishes to your son!
I's hard to be a perfectionist:). Despite your dissatisfaction, the cake does look very impressive. As for egg whites, I always forget to take them from the fridge in advance, so instead, I warm them by placing a bowl with egg whites into warm water. Warm whites always whip better.
If you want a dome-shaped cake, you can assemble the cake in a bowl, lining it with cake wedges first (zucotto-like), or just filling a bowl with ice-cream and covering it with a cake layer. The last method is the most common for assembling Alaska.