The cake is done! And on its way to 2 dozen weekend-working collegues who are going to perform the taste-test :o).
If you want to give the cake a go yourself, go to http://www.marthastewart.com for the recipe and instructions and tell me what you think.
As I wrote before, I was quite well prepared for finishing this cake. I had the genoise in the freezer (it held up beautifully) the daquoise at hand (you can definately keep it for more than one day, unlike the recipe states), the soaking syrup in the fridge and all cookie decorating finished. What was left was making the buttercream and constructing the cake. So I read the directions twice, and started the buttercream. I have to confess I don't have a lot of experience with buttercream, as it's not the first type of filling I turn to when making a cake. I prefer ganache and pastry cream type fillings over buttercream, but you have to venture out and be open to new things, and a gingerbread-flavored buttercream can only be good, right?
So I started heating up eggwhites and sugar in a double boiler. I was armed with my candy thermometer and followed the instructions to the letter. Let it warm up sufficiently, then started beating the crap out of it in my beloved stand mixer (that deserves the name 'thunderbird' for the noise it produces, but is simply THE best ever). It behaved as promised, turned paler, thicker, stiffened up nicely, only, after 15 minutes it didn't seem very cool. It wasn't much cooler after 20 minutes either. What to do? According to the recipe it should be ready for adding butter at this point, and being nervous of overbeating the stuff, I hesitantly started adding the butter. More so, because the recipe said that if the mixture gets too cold, it might curdle. Definately didn't want to deal with that. So I added the butter by the tablespoon as directed, and it looked all fine and dandy, except it still wouldn't cool.
This is when I started to get the icepacks and wet towels out. It didn't help one bit. I don't know what it was, but it stayed warm and when all the butter was added I had a soupy concoction at hand (granted, it tasted great). I tried to calm myself down, having visions of running to the store yet again and buying yet another dozen of eggs and 2 lbs of sugar. I figured I had nothing to loose and put the whole bowl in an ice bath, stirring gently. It got more manageable, never curdled or broke down, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and started slathering it on, waiting for disaster to strike. And guess what, it was all fine and it just stiffened up beautifully in the fridge. Victory!!
After this ordeal, I noticed time was running away from me. I still had to bake the last batch of cookie dough I made earlier that morning, before my oven was hauled out of the house for a check up (WHAT was I thinking?). And of course the oven had to be cool again and cleaned before pick up. So I baked cookies, ran around frantically trying to clean up the kitchen that looked like a battlefield at that point, while at the same time trying to look in control when waving at the neighbor who was looking at what I was doing from outside the window ;o).
I got it done, everything looked reasonably normal and tidy, when with 15 minutes left before the repair guys came, I thought I'd better unplug the oven. Then I couldn't find the plug. I called my husband at work, who told me I needed to look for the plug in the basement. When I did just that, I remembered we had recently covered the pipes and cords and all that pretty stuff with a piece of plywood twice my size. It was screwed in position with what seemed like 79 screws. At this point, I was in hyperventilation mode. My husband was trying to calm me down, telling me to give it a try and if I couldn't manage, he'd jump into the car that very moment and be over to rescue me. So I got going, screwing as if my life depended on it. I somehow managed to move all the boxes in front of the darned wall, get the board down without breaking it or hurting myself (don't ask me how I did it), and finding the plug. Of course I couldn't reach it and I climbed on a rather wonky construction, stuck my hand into a cobweb-covered black hole, trying to find the plug. And I did, thankfully. I banged my head and was covered in cobwebs, but I did it a full three minutes before the arranged pick up time.
I washed my face, combed my hair, tried to look in control once again and calmly made myself a cup of tea ;o).
Is it even necessary to say that the pick up only happened TWO FULL HOURS LATER? That I tried to decide whether I could start that cranberry curd, to use up some of the 21 egg yolks in my fridge, or not, for two hours? I guess everything worked out eventually, but that was one crazy day. The curd turned out, the cookies turned out, the cake was in the fridge, and the oven got picked up. Now I'm left with a big hole in the oven cabinet and the kitchen is just empty without the oven. Of course I can only think of dinner options that need to be prepared in the oven. And I want to bake bread and scones and everything else like I will never get another chance. It's official: I'm really crazy.
But, this is getting awfully long and I still haven't talked about finalizing the cake. The thunderbird was in full swing again this morning at 6.00 a.m., whipping up a batch of 7-minute frosting (again that didn't cool, what's up with that??). I slathered it onto the cake that still looked in fine shape, pressed in the cookies, took a few snapshots, listened to my husband who was insisting he was running late, made breakfast and hauled husband, cake and breakfast into the car and drove off.
So what have I learned in the proces?
1. Selling a house is stressful
2. Selling a house is awfully stressful
3. Preparing for a possible move is extremely stressful
4. Do not make this zillion-component cake when you don't have a lot of time on your hands.
5. Do not try to bake another batch of cookies 15 minutes before your oven gets hauled off the house. There WILL be other occasions.
6. I still love to bake, it keeps me both sane and insane :o).
Without further ado: here's the master piece: