Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Sauce

This assignment came for a new friend's birthday whose tastes I don't know very well. She is pregnant with a baby girl, and apparently "everything sweet" is on her list right now, but I had no other guidance. So I decided to use her baby as inspiration, and went with pink strawberry. A dense, firm vanilla cake layer sandwiched around strawberry whipped cream and frosted with white chocolate cream cheese frosting was a delightful celebration cake. For the size of the party, I used a 10" layer pan and 1 1/2 times the recipe.  
The cake layer was really nice to work with and pronounced vanilla flavor, even without using the vanilla bean or vanilla powder called for in the recipe. I had been curious to try one of Warren Brown's recipes with potato starch, not knowing exactly what that would contribute to the texture. This recipe was firm and easy to slice. It was perhaps just a bit more dense than I generally prefer. It did not bake at all evenly in my oven, and I'm not sure if that is a factor of my not getting the whites sufficiently incorporated, or if it is the recipe itself, but either way that could have contributed to the density.

For the filling, I fussed and fussed to get a consistency that was thick enough to hold itself but flavorful enough to be easily recognized as strawberry. Rose says that her fruit conserve is perfect for stirring into creams because the flavor is so concentrated. I didn't necessarily find this to be the case, but it may have been that I needed heavy cream instead of whipping cream. Nevertheless, the flavor ultimately was delicious and enjoyed by all.

Amazing Vanilla Cake
by Warren Brown from United Cakes of America
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 ounce potato starch
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon vanilla powder (I didn't have any of this - frankly I don't really even know what it is, so I just increased the amount of vanilla extract)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons run
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 eggs, separated
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds only (I do know what this is, but again I just increased the amount of extract - it's not the same, but it is good enough for a cake that is going to be smothered in frosting)

Preheat oven to 325. LIne two 9" round pans with parchment.
Whisk together dry ingredients.
Melt butter in small saucepan until browned, then remove from heat. Stir in rum and vanilla.
In bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites on high until fluffy. Slowly pour 2 ounces of sugar in and whip for 20 seconds. Transfer to a clean bowl.
Beat egg yolks vanilla seeds (if using) and remaining 10 ounces sugar until mixture is pale yellow.
Whip in dry ingredients in three additions on slow. Fold in egg whites with a spatula, followed by browned butter. Divide batter between pans and bake 18-20 minutes until tester comes out clean.

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