Cake Cake Cake

Eat all the cake!

So in two days I made three cakes.

Sunday, I made a genoise, and then Monday I made another Victoria Sponge, and then an almond cake, even though I didn’t get home until almost ten o’clock after our boss graciously had all the young people over for a really lovely dinner that ended with single malt scotch collection. Excuse me while I fall over from the delicious fumes alone.

The genoise was better than my first try, but still dense and dry, even sliced in half and brushed with liquor and filled with cherry preserves, and covered with classic vanilla buttercream frosting, which is just butter, powdered sugar, and a bit of extract and milk.

The Victoria sponge came out more crumbly and delicate that I remembered the first attempt, and it nearly fell apart when I cut it in half horizontally to fill with jam.I covered it with the classic buttercream, and it was a very messy, crumbly process.

Then I got to work on the almond cake, after soaking raw almonds in water for thirty minutes and slipping off their skins. Blanched almonds are rare and expensive here, so I do this whenever I make any almond-based baked good. I ground up 1 cup of the almonds in my food processor, and then slowly added 1 cup of powdered sugar. Slowly, because my food processor is mini and the capacity is just about 1 1/2 cups. Then I mixed in one egg yolk until it formed a nice little paste.

I used a David Lebovitz’s almond cake recipe that I found on tastespotting as I was perusing for ideas. Since I don’t have measuring utensils yet, all of the measurement on my end was complete guesswork, but it turned out not too badly.

I used the just-about 1 cup of almond paste, and mixed with 1 1/3 cup sugar (the recipe said or granulated sugar, but I used half granulated and haf powdered because the sugar I had seemed kind of large. Which is a weird thing to say about sugar but whatever. Grind the sugar and the almond paste in the blender. Then add a cup of butter, cubed and at room temperature, and cream it until fluffy. Add 6 eggs in, one at a time, and some vanilla. Sift together 1 cup of flour, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, then carefully fold this into the wet batter. Bake at 325F (160C) for 65 minutes.

While it was baking I put together an Italian meringue lemon-honey buttercream, or rather, I tried to, because whipping eggs into meringue and then creaming butter with a crappy hand-whisk is exhausting, and I seem to have misplaced my cooking thermometer somewhere in the the three moves last month, but it came out tasting great.
1/4 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
6 cup of egg whites
I cup butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Lemon zest and a Tbs of honey for flavor

First, melt the sugar and water, and start whipping the egg whites. Once the egg whites form soft peaks, carefully and slowly mix in the syrup after its boiled for about 7 minutes.
Keep on whipping. It’s supposed to get thick and fluffy. Some directions say “when you have formed the ribbon” but I don’t really know what that means and it’s a little ludicrous, in my mind. Screw you and your egg meringue ribbons. I whipped until I thought my arm might fall off, and a meringue never really formed, but I got lazy so then I added the room temp butter and beat it some more. Once the butter was incorporated I added the vanilla, pinch of lemon zest and some honey. It’s supposed to be thick and creamy and frosting like. Mine was…almost frosting. Tasty and creamy, but a little too thin. Certainly you wouldn’t be able to pipe decorations with it, but good enough for the taste test. After the cake had baked and cooled, I cut it in half horizontally and filled it with the meringue buttercream and raspberry jam, stacked it together again, and covered it with more meringue buttercream.

Then I pulled the last piece of midnight chocolate cake out of the freezer to thaw, and we had a cake testing.

Table of cake. Clearly, there’s some work that needs to be done on the frosting.

The happy couple came over and we ate cake. The conclusion: Chocolate. Chocolate cake is delicious. I’m going to fill it fill Nutella and raspberry jam, try a chocolate lacquer glaze to make it really pretty, and make chocolate leaves by painting mint or something with melted chocolate.

Of the three white cakes, no one really liked the genoise. It was dry and dense, and the bride didn’t like the cherry preserve. Also, the classic buttercream, made with powdered sugar, is far too sweet for our palates. The Victoria sponge was good, but again the buttercream was a knock against it. The almond cake was addictive, the Italian meringue not as tooth-rotting-sweet, creamier and more flavorful. So there. I may invest in a egg-beater or at least a better whisk, and work on my frosting skills, but the cakes themselves are decided and delicious. Another month to become a perfect cake baker!

The winner! So very tasty.


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