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Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Cakes.  THE symbol of celebration…and sadly, often the culprit behind disappointed taste buds. Most of the cakes I’ve encountered in my life have been more beautiful to look at than to eat, which I think is a direct result of cakes gone wild…becoming commercialized and ubiquitous.  These tepid tasting cake frauds are cloaked with frostings made from shortening instead of butter.  How can you make a “Buttercream” frosting without butter??  You can’t.  We, as cake eaters, are obviously dealing with a raging epidemic in the sugar and butter world.  

I am relieved to say that there is a cure to this cake problem…a great recipe and the finest, REAL ingredients that you can find.  Beauty is not only frosting deep.

And so, this brings me to the wonder that is cakes done right.  A real cake is a fabulous thing.  It can be light and airy, or dense and luxurious.  It is the perfect vehicle for fruits, spices, nuts, frostings and puddings…or for nothing at all.  Cakes are incredibly versatile and can be simple, impressive, rustic and comforting all at the same time.  Because of the complexity that is cake, there are quite a few Pastry lessons dedicated to the topic.  So far we’ve covered Chiffon/Sponge Cakes and Butter Cakes. 

Chiffon/Sponge Cakes are made with meringue (beaten egg whites with sugar) for lift, and a small amount of fat (relatively) in the form of butter or vegetable oil.  These cakes bake up light and fluffy, and beg to be paired with something juicy and creamy.  I baked an Orange Sponge cake, which was going fine and dandy until I was forced to punch the cake in the face…it was trying to burn my finger.  Luckily, the damage was minimal.

After baking many cakes and making batches and more batches of Buttercream frosting, we also learned how to make edible candied flowers.  We used violas (a type of edible flower) and painted them with a meringue powder and water concoction…and then sprinkled the flowers with sugar.  These flowers perched on top of cupcakes…simply adorable.

Butter cakes are obviously made with butter…and are dense and moist.  These cakes are usually made using the creaming method (beating your butter and sugar together to create tiny air bubbles that help with the rise in the cake).  I made a Cardamom Buttermilk Cake that was fragrant and delicious and receptive to many different flavor components.  I paired the cake with Strawberries and almonds…and a dollop of whipped cream.


Georgia Peach said...

becky those look AMAZING! It was hilarious when you said, "I was forced to punch the cake in the face" hahahahahaha - that made me laugh outloud!

I'd like to have some of your goodies, please!! :D Those sugared violas look beautiful, btw.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful plating!