Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby Shower Cake

I made this cake for a baby shower, where I had completely convinced myself that the mama was having a girl, hence the pink frosting and decorations. After I took the above photo, I texted the hostess to confirm and she reminded me that actually the baby will be a boy! As the frosting is tinted with blackberry, it really was more purple than pink, and the multi-colored sprinkles helped the cake be simply festive instead of gender-conforming.

Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake
Note, this is 1 ½ times the published recipe, which fills for 2 10” pans and serves 20.
3.375 cups cake flour
1.5 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1.875 cups whole milk or buttermilk
6 large egg whites
2.25 cups sugar
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
¾ teaspoon pure lemon extract
Preheat oven to 350. Butter/parchment pans.
Sift together flour, powder, salt. Separately, whisk together milk and eggs. Put sugar and zest in mixer; blend with fingers. Add butter, beat 3 full minutes on medium. Beat in extract.

Add one third flour then half milk and repeat, beat well until all ingredients are incorporated.
Bake for 30-33 minutes.

The white cake always tastes a bit dry to me, but no one else ever agrees with me. And with enough fruit filling and silky buttercream, even my criticisms become unnoticable. The cake is worth it because of how sturdy yet light it is, and what great slices it makes.

I was really pleased with the blackberry curd, made from berries picked from my in-laws' backyard. Blackberries are too seedy for me to get much enjoyment from eating them fresh, so I cooked them down with a bit of sugar and balsamic vineagar which I then pureed and strained into a thin sauce. It served as a perfect substitute in Rose Levy Berenbaum's Lemon Curd.
Blackberry Curd
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 T sugar
3 ounces blackberry-balsamic puree
4 T unsalted butter
pinch of salt
Beat yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients and heat over medium-low, whisking continuously, until mixture reaches 160 degrees. Do not allow to boil or it will curdle. It is messier and more wasteful, but faster and easier to go ahead and cook the mixture quickly, then just strain out any cooked bits of egg. It will thicken as it cools. Chill completely.
Note: both the puree/sauce and the curd keep very well in the fridge and in the freezer.

This buttercream is the best all-purpose recipe I've found, and it is gaining quite a position of prominence on this blog. To assemble the cake, I spread plain curd on one layer, and mixed part of the curd with some of the frosting, leaving the rest of the frosting plain. The tinted frosting atop the glaze of curd makes a delicious filling. Use the remaining tinted frosting to decorate.

Amazingly Simple Buttercream
from Laura Temple
1 1/2 cups of sugar
6 large egg whites 4 cubes of unsalted butter (1 pound) softened to room temperature
3/4 teaspoon real vanilla


Put egg whites and sugar in top of double boiler over simmering water. Whisk until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from heat and move to a stand mixer bowl. Whip on medium high until they are room temperature. (Wrap ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables around the base of the bowl to speed cooling).

Once the whites/sugar mixture is at room temperature, keep mixing, and add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time until all is incorporated. It might looked curdled part-way through, but just keep going and it will come together. Add the vanilla and mix just enough to incorporate it fully. Stir in any optional food coloring. This makes a great stark-white buttercream on its own.

Use immediately, or keep at room temperature and re-beat for a minute before using. If you want to freeze the leftovers, make sure to bring it completely to room temperature before you re-beat or it will curdle.

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