One thing I've been a little obsessed with lately is the special dessert collaboration between Blue Bottle Coffee and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The coffee company has created special desserts especially to be sold at the museum, all of which are inspired by famous modern artists.
My personal favorite is a cake inspired by Piet Mondrian's "Composition in Red, Yellow & Blue". Mondrian worked with virtual simplification of forms until all that was left was thick lines and blocks that varied in color meant to create a sense of movement in the piece. Now replace all those lines and blocks with chocolate and fluffy pieces of cake, and you've got yourself something as fun to eat as it is to simply look at.
The SFMOMA is currently under construction until early 2016, so you can only order full cakes off the Blue Bottle website. However, since their collaboration, head pastry chef Caitlin Freeman has also published a book full of all the different art-inspired recipes called "Modern Art Desserts".
Here is the recipe for adventurous Vinglers who want to create a little edible art in their kitchen! (Attached is a bonus video of Blue Bottle Coffee making their on Mondrian cakes, plus my second place favorite SFMOMA dessert, the "Ocean Park #122"-inspired Richard Diebenkorn Trifle!)
You will need
1 x 20cm square tin
3 x 450g loaf tin (measuring approx 16cm x 11cm x 7cm) or 1 battenberg tin
For the cakes
500g unsalted butter
500g caster sugar
500g sour cream or Greek yogurt
750g self-raising flour
1 tsp of salt
Red, blue and yellow food coloring gels or paste
For the ganache
400g dark 50% chocolate, chopped
300ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line the base and sides of your tins with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a food processor, electric hand whisk, or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Add the eggs, one at a time, plus sour cream, self-raising flour and salt, and whisk together until smooth.
3. Spoon 900g of the mix into the 20cm square tin and put to one side.
4. Divide the remaining mixture into three bowls, with approximately 450g of cake mix in each. Color one bowl’s mixture with the blue dye, another with the red and finally, yellow. You want the colors to be vivid, so really go for it.
5. Spoon the different colored mixtures into the three separate loaf tins and place in the oven, along with the square tin, for 45-50 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean. (You might want to rotate the tins so that they’re evenly cooked.) Leave to cool, then transfer to wire racks.
6. Meanwhile, make the ganache, which you will use to stick the cake together and coat the outside. Put the chocolate into a bowl and heat the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. Just before it boils, pour it over the chocolate. Leave to sit for five minutes, then stir until smooth. Leave to cool.
7. Place the cooled cakes on a chopping board. Using a bread knife, slice all the edges off the cakes so that you’re left with long, brightly colored rectangles, approximately 18cm in length.
8. Using a picture of your chosen Mondrian for inspiration, very carefully measure and slice the cakes to make straight-edged long rectangles. Put the cake slices together as you build your picture.
9. Line two trays with baking parchment. Piece by piece, spread the cake lengths with the chocolate ganache, using it like glue to stick your strips back together to recreate your Mondrian on one tray. Put in the fridge to firm up for about one hour – this hardens the ganache and makes the cake easier to work with.
10. Remove the cake from the fridge. Spread the ganache over the cake, using a pallet knife to smooth it over the sides and top. Transfer to the fridge for one hour to firm up. Remove from the fridge, place the second lined baking tray on top and invert the cake. Use the rest of ganache to coat the remaining edge – you may have to heat it up slightly to loosen it. Make sure the ganache is evenly spread. Place in the fridge for a final hour, then remove and allow it to reach room temperature. Finally, slice the cake, feel smug and serve.