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Monday, February 16, 2015

Ruffles, Roses, and Cake -- Pure Poetry. . .


As I've gotten older, my appreciation of poetry has increased.  Lately, I've been absolutely smitten with e.e.cummings.  (although, I must admit, the brazen disregard for capitalization and punctuation put me off at first. I know, I'm a nerd. . .)

I really do love "i carry your heart with me."  I know it's cliched like, but in my defense, i love the lesser known part of the poem:
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
{swoon. . . }

So in honor of my new favorite poet, and, of course, .. . Valentine's day, here's a sweet little cake to help you celebrate.

{Of note:  The cake may be inspired by e e cummings, but is, of course, dedicated to my forever love, my husband, George.  He may not write poetry, but his loving insistence that all my endeavors are delicious, (even those that could only be described as kitchen disasters), is much more valuable to me}

Vanilla Cake:

This cake was a dream for the most part --it's the same cake that I used in my previous post. However, due to my (unwise) decision to experiment with frozen cake batter, it didn't turn out quite as well.  I know, I know. . . gasp -- FROZEN CAKE BATTER???.  I had to try, though -- making the batter eats up a good part of the afternoon and I always end up making too much, since my cake size of choice is a 6 inch. . .  and most recipes make two 8 inch cakes. Anyways, to make a long story short -- just don't do it.  The cake itself cooked fine, but the crumb was most definitely compromised.  It was still light and fluffy at the periphery, but centrally, the cake failed to rise as it should have, and took on a very dense, almost pound- cake-like consistency.  So that's the last time I'll try to freeze cake batter.  Oh well, worth a shot.

Filling:

Mango Curd:

This is the best curd recipe ever.  The most wonderful part -- it can be modified to feature whatever fruit your heart desires.  I used mango, because I can buy mango pulp, saving me the extra step of pureeing the fruit myself.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup pureed fruit
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (I never use enough lemon juice to finish a whole container before it goes bad -- so I've started to use this)
1 stick unsalted butter

Process:

Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until the sugar dissolves.  Add the butter and whisk until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Immediately strain into a bowl and cover with cling wrap.  Make sure that the cling wrap is touching the curd and there is no air between the curd and the wrap, to ensure that a "skin" does not develop on top of the curd.
Refrigerate until desired, at least a few hours.


Grand Marnier Strawberries:

1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier

Mix all ingredients together and cover with cling wrap.  Let sit at room temperature for an hour.  Refrigerate until needed.

Frosting:

Coconut Buttercream

Ingredients:

Syrup:

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp

Meringue:

4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch tsp salt

Frosting:

3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature (essential -- if the butter is not at room temp, this will not work)
2 1/4 tsp vanilla paste
just under 1/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 tsp coconut extract

Process:

Boil ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture reaches 240 degrees.  While the syrup is forming, whip the meringue ingredients at high speed to stiff peaks. (This does not take long, so if you hit stiff peaks before the syrup is hot enough, reduce the speed of your mixer to low and keep the meringue moving.)  When the syrup reaches temperature, remove from heat and pour down the side of your mixer while continuing to whip at low speed.  The mixture will be HOT.  It is essential to wrap an ice pack around the base of your bowl at this time, otherwise it will NEVER cool down.  Whip until the mixture reaches 80 degrees, then add the butter a few pieces at a time.  If you do not wait until the temperature cools sufficiently, you will be left with buttercream that is the consistency of milk, so be patient. After all the butter has been added, whip at high speed for a little less than a minute.  Then add in the flavorings and whip at high speed until fully incorporated.

Construction:

Level the cake and tort into two layers.  Spread mango curd over one layer and top with macerated strawberries.



Place the second layer on top of the filling and coat the entire cake with a generous layer of buttercream frosting.



Now. . . . decorating!!!(Yay, happy dance)

Supplies:

Wafer Paper
Silver dragees, 4 mm
24 oz white fondant
Pink gel icing color
2 Small circle cutters, of different sizes
Food writer marker
X-acto knife
Fondant smoother
Food tweezer

I wanted the cake to have a snippet of a poem scribed on top, so I used Word to print out the desired wording in a 6 inch diameter circle (to match the dimensions of the top of the cake.)  Then, I placed a piece of wafer paper (shiny side up) on top of the template and traced the wording onto the wafer paper using an edible ink marker. Finally, I cut the wafer paper to size using an X-acto knife.


After brushing the back of the wafer paper generously with corn syrup, onto the top of the cake it went.  I used a fondant smoother to make sure that it was firmly adhered to the cake (wafer paper tends to curl on the sides if not tacked down.)

Take a small handful of the dragees and pat gently against the sides of the cake.  I wanted a wavy pattern, so I drew an outline on top of the cake (as shown above,) but I found that the action of patting the beads against the frosting automatically creates that pattern.  Note: These beads are tiny, slippery, and bounceThey go everywhere when dropped.
(Further complicating matters -- they are described as non-edible, non-toxic.  Whatever that means. . . so if small children or pets are around, be extra careful.  In the interest of full disclosure, I've eaten these in the past.  They taste really yummy, actually.  And I'm still ok. . . I think. . .)




Color the fondant, a small amount at a time, using the pink gel icing.  Use sparingly -- the gel color is very potent.  If the color is too deep, knead in some white fondant to lighten.  Roll the fondant out and use the larger circle cutter to cut a few circles at a time.  Fold each circle in half, and then loosely again
in half.  This will form your ruffle.





Line the top and bottom of the cake with these little mini-ruffles.  Fill in any gaps with dragees using a tweezer for detail work.  Using the smaller circle cutter, repeat the process and border the top of the cake with the mini-ruffles, so the edge of the wafer paper is not seen.










Ahhh, ruffles, how I do I love thee, let me count the ways. . .
And let's not forget about poetry!!!

                         Flowers, Poetry, and Cake -- who could ask for more? :)


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