|From Adriana Baking|
I’m aware that I’ve written about it before, but school is the only thing on my mind now, day and night. I’d much rather be able to spend my last hours of vacation enjoying it, lounging in the sun with my mind cleared of homework-related thoughts, but school keeps creeping back into my mind, no matter how hard I try to chase the thoughts away. I’m still on vacation, but every hour that passes feels like the last hour of free time I’ll enjoy. Waking up in the morning I stay in bed a couple minutes longer, just to feel the warm rays of sunlight falling across the room and to hear the cheerful chirping of the birds outside. I know I won’t have that luxury when school begins. And in the evening, sitting by the warm glow of the lamp nearby, I read my book only paying half the attention I should be, secretly enjoying the fact that I have a new baking project planned the next day, and nothing to interfere with my plans. When I start school, will I have the time? I know I’m worrying, exaggerating even. But high school is new territory, and quite honestly, I’m nervous.
Typing this here at the computer, I’m content. Blogging is something I love. Reading your comments and knowing someone takes the time to visit my blog are one of the things that truly make my day. My blog is solely fueled by copious amounts of butter and sugar, and it will always continue to be. I know that I will always find time for baking and photography, because it is something I am passionate about. But writing out a post, no matter how few between, takes time. As my blog becomes more known and demands more of my attention and efforts, and posting once a week becomes routine, I’m starting to discover my love for the English language as well. Though it is sometimes frustrating, I love carefully crafting out sentences in bed at night, and becoming unconscious as I dream about my next post. Because I am truly passionate about blogging, I will always find the time to update.
|From Adriana Baking|
Maybe it was the high school orientation I went to last week, or the back-to-school billboards all across town, but I woke up really longing to cross something off my to-bake list and spend hours in the kitchen, baking with the comfort of knowing I had all day to spend as I wished. I spent a good part of the morning searching for a recipe, browsing through my favorite blogs. My sister hinted she wanted a layer cake, and I was more than happy to oblige, because I knew it would keep me busy the whole day. I settled on making Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. About a week ago we bought a couple bags of frozen raspberries, and I planned on making a raspberry curd to layer the cake with instead of the raspberry jam suggested. Pressing the ruby liquid through the sieve, I couldn’t have been happier. My friend K- often bakes with me, and she was there that day, carefully measuring out flour when I needed it and reading parts of the recipe for me through the process. The cake layers didn’t rise as much as we hoped they would, and there was no way we could cut them in half to make a four layer cake. So we made another batch of cake batter, and had just as much fun.
|From Adriana Baking|
My family and I don’t like the heavy, buttery taste of meringue buttercream; we much prefer the lighter feel of cream cheese frosting. I was worried that the frosting wouldn’t be stiff enough to frost a cake with, but I went for it anyway, telling myself that taste matters more than appearance. And it ended up working just fine. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe. The cakes baked up light and fluffy despite not having risen much, and the tangy, sweet, cream cheese frosting complimented the raspberry curd perfectly. I decided to keep the decorations simple. I printed out pictures of butterflies and traced them in chocolate over parchment paper. Some of their wings were piped out separately so I could play with their positions. I just attached them to the body with some extra melted chocolate, and propped them up using a muffin tin turned upside down, then placed the bodies between the cups and had the wings rest against the cups. To speed things up, I placed the muffin tin in the freezer for ten minutes.
|From Adriana Baking|
My family loved the cake, and even though I’m not much of a cake person, I enjoyed it too. After not having my cake layers rise as much as I had expected, I did some research. I found someone who used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour and whole milk instead of buttermilk, and said their cakes rose more than the ones they baked with the other ingredients. Though these substitutions may compromise texture, give it a try if you don’t have the time to make two batches. Or you could make a two layer cake.
(PS: On a totally unrelated note, I started a twitter account: http://www.twitter.com/sweetbakingblog).
Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour (If using all-purpose flour, reduce the flour by 2 tablespoons).
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk. It gives the cake a light and fluffy texture, and nicely compliments the lemon).
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable (I made a raspberry curd instead)
1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut (For pressing around the sides of the cake. I omitted this).
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
Adapted from Luscious Berry Desserts by Lori Longbotham via Annie’s Eats
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pint ripe raspberries or 1 12-oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
To make the raspberry curd, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar and salt, and cook, mashing the berries. Stir frequently at first and then constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
|From Adriana Baking|
To Assemble the Cake:
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
Since lemon is such a friendly flavor, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.
Fresh Berry Cake:
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.