Friday, October 07, 2005

Taa Daa!

A year and one week ago I made this cake for my brother’s wedding.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I took a great deal of pleasure that all of the children present clustered around the cake and oohed and aahed over it. After the cake was cut it was all but devoured. The topper was whisked away and three slices were saved, one each for my cousin, her partner and their daughter. (They had tickets to see the Lion King that they had bought months ago and they had to leave before the cake was cut. Annie, their daughter, was crushed that she would miss out on the cake so we promised to save her some.) When the cake was gone a few guest hopefully circled the table hoping for more. Later one guest complained about the saved pieces being taken away and demanded to have another slice. She was somewhat mollified when we explained who they were for.

I had obsessed over the cake for a month and a half. I bought a marvelous book, The Wedding Cake Book. In it there are some very good recipes and guides about cake sizes, how many servings per cake, and how much batter you will need for each sized pan. The Italian Meringue Buttercream frosting was alone worth the price of the book. I will not reproduce the recipe here; you should buy or borrow the book. It is too complicated for me to explain and the author deserves full credit for it. I will tell you that one 7 cup batch uses 1 ½ pounds of unsalted butter, 8 egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar. Oh and it is critical that you have a stand type mixer and a candy thermometer. For the wedding cake I made three batches. This includes the chocolate and raspberry buttercream fillings (I alternated chocolate and raspberry fillings between each layer within the three cakes).

The chocolates decorating the outside of the cake come from Harbor Sweets. I used their periwinkles, Sand Dollars and Sweet Shells from the Classics. My maternal extended family are addicted to this chocolatier. The family favorite is the Sweet Sloop. On the orginal wedding cake I did not use any Sweet Sloops. I felt that their taste would be a distraction and that the cake had enough going on with three different chocolates. But, for the anniversary cake, I snuck some on. I thought it would be a nice way to note that a year had passed. The cake is the same, but different.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The cake itself was my old tried and true Four Egg Yellow Layer Cake, aka the old fashioned 1-2-3 cake. During my obsessive planning stage I did try out a new reciepe, but it was not nearly as good. So here it is from my 1946 edition of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer.

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (room temp)
4 eggs, separated
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla*
2 2/3 cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ and ¼ teaspoons of salt
1 cup of milk

Sift the sugar and blend with the butter until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in one at a time the egg yolks. Then add the vanilla * and set aside. Sift the cake flour before measuring and resift with the baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture in about three parts alternating the thirds of the milk. Beat the batter until it is smooth after each addition. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Fold the whites lightly into the batter. Bake the cake in an 8 x 12 inch pan lined with waxed paper at 350 for about 45 minutes or in three** greased 9 inch layer pans from 30 to 35 minutes.

*Or use 1 teaspoon of vanilla and ½ teaspoon of almond extract. Normally I like to use 1 teaspoon of almond and ½ teaspoon, but for the wedding I only used vanilla.

** I use two or just one pan and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

The cake is dense, flavorful and moist. It has a lovely texture and is not crumbly.

I shipped the cake out to them yesterday. They should get it by 3:00 pm today. I froze the cake and packed it with dry ice, so it should be fine when it arrives. It won’t be as pretty, but it should taste great.

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