Sunday, July 11, 2010

Under Pressure

I decided to test out the cake recipe I had been eyeing for the WEDDING CAKE I was slated to make at a small get together with some friends (including the bride and groom). I had a new kitchen to work with, as I happened to be house sitting at the time. The whole experience was a little daunting and frustrating. It required me brewing my first cup of coffee on my own (using a french press which seemed suspiciously easy to me), as well as testing out an entirely new frosting recipe. It also required me to do this all with a big, yellow Lab watching me hungrily. The photos say it all...

So I mixed....and I mixed. And I cursed and I prayed for a delicious outcome. Naturally, the cakes baked unevenly in the oven and I managed to spill flour all over the kitchen floor, which the dog eagerly pitched in to clean up. I tried my best to even the cakes out by hand and then popped them into the freezer, sealed in layers of temperamental plastic wrap.

What these pictures do not show is the terrible, terrible moment where I opened the freezer door to get ice out, forgetting that I had precariously left the third layer of the cake to cool on a rack on top of the freezer. The pictures also fail to capture the shriek of horror and following curse that escaped from me as the said cake layer tumbled through the air and landed in my hands. Luckily, I managed to salvage the layer- with a bit of freezer magic and frosting. Sadly, I don't think I'll fix the damage I did to my nerves with the freezer...or frosting.

While the cakes were firming up in the freezer, I turned my attention to the swiss meringue buttercream I had been dying to test out. This frosting differs from the typical buttercream in that it involves many egg whites and granulated sugar incorporated with butter, instead of the tradition butter, powdered sugar, and cream combo. Why the extra effort of beating egg whites? Swiss meringue buttercream is supposed to be a frosting god, not too sweet and made, MADE for wedding cakes. It allegedly can hold up to any temperature and has a nice, natural gloss to it. This frosting god, however, is also supposed to be very tricky to mix together. So with a deep breath and a whole lot of butter, I went to work. And I did it! The outcome was unlike any frosting I had ever created or tasted. I couldn't decide if I hated it or loved it, so I slathered it on the cake and hoped my friends could help me decide. One thing I must frosted beautifully and held up just as well as it had been touted.

The filling for the cake was a raspberry confiture. I cheated and bought a jar of seedless raspberry jam from the store, and I still don't regret that choice. I popped open the jam and took out the cake layers from the depths of the freezer. Onto the layers went the jam and frosting. While I think I need to work on my frosting skills, before the wedding I was overall pleased with the aesthetic results. At the last minuteI decided the cake looked too blah with zero color, so on a whim I sliced up a strawberry and added it as garnish. Ta-da!

My friends- and myself- loved the taste of the cake. It was very dense and very flavorful. The coffee in the mix had definitely increased the chocolate flavor. The swiss meringue sadly fell flat with all of us though. I think we missed the sweetness of traditional buttercream, especially with a cake this chocolate-y. Thus, I was left only half satisfied and still on a quest for the perfect wedding cake frosting.

*Stay tuned for a post about the actual wedding cake! The wedding was this last weekend and was glorious in a multitude of ways. Till then, here's the finished 'test cake'.

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