Thursday, September 17, 2015

Goldfinger (and cake)

So, it's been a while since the last post, but I have to say that after a very relaxing and indulgent two week vacation away, I felt that I really should focus more on cutting calories rather than upping my butter consumption.  Of course, we are talking about me, and that thought didn't last all that long, especially when I realized that mine and my husbands anniversary was swiftly approaching.  And not that I really need any particular reason to make a cake, but what better excuse to attempt something sweet and elegant than an anniversary?

Unfortunately, the cake didn't turn out as expected.  (There's always a component of the unexpected with all of my projects, but this one wasn't really salvageable. The batter started off with way too much liquid, and the resulting cake was rubbery and just not palatable.)  In fact, the taste was so off-putting, that between my husband and I, we only managed to eat a piece, and not even a complete piece.  Anyone that knows me at all, knows that the cake must have been pretty bad for that to happen.  (I was really regretting passing on dessert at our anniversary dinner out.) But, I managed to rework the recipe, so that in the future, this will probably make a pretty decent cake -- feel free to try it out and let me know.

Orange Cake with Banana Faux Pastry Cream Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting


1 Box Golden Butter Cake Mix
4 Eggs
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
7 Tbsp Softened Butter

Mix the ingredients together, slowly for 30 seconds to incorporate and then at medium to high speed for 3 minutes to fully combine.  Pour into prepared pan. (I used a 6 in pan, 3 in deep, filled half-way and then put the rest of the batter in cupcake tins.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes for the cake pan and about 20 minutes for the cupcakes.)

Meanwhile, the filling and frosting. . .

Banana Faux Pastry Cream Filling

1 Small Package Banana Cream Jello Instant Pudding
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 oz Mandarin Oranges, drained as much as possible
 (previously, I had added the oranges to the cake mix, and the amount of excess liquid just killed the cake)

Whisk together pudding mix and whole milk.  Let sit a few minutes until set.  Stir in the mandarin oranges.  Separately, beat the cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Fold the two mixtures together to taste.  (If you want the mixture to be lighter, use more cream:pudding.  If you would like a stronger taste, use more pudding:cream.)

Whipped Cream Frosting

2 Cups Heavy Cream
3Tbsp Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.  (This is a personal preference -- you can beat until soft peaks for a more airy whipped cream, but I wanted to put this under fondant, so I needed as much structure as possible.)

After the cake is baked and fully cooled, level and split into two tiers.  Fill and frost.

Now, decorating!!!

For this cake, I wanted a darker, more romantic color for the fondant. So I mixed store-made purple fondant with a store-made red fondant and added just a bit of black fondant until I reached a maroon/burgundy shade that worked.  The fondant color gets darker after sitting a while too, so although it was a bit of a dull berry color to begin with, within a few hours it deepened nicely.

My very thoughtful parents bought this gorgeous cake stand for me about a month ago, and I love it! The ribbon woven through the bottom can be changed out to match any cake possible.  Truly, the most versatile cake stand ever.

Because no special occasion cake is complete without a gumpaste flower, I actually started the flower while the cake was baking.  Any true pastry chef will tell you that a gumpaste flower should be made a couple of days in advance, so that it drys sufficiently to hold its shape.  But, I'm really not organized/energetic enough for that, so. . .

I used peony cutters, in two different sizes.  With both cutouts, I softened and curled the end using a ball tool on a foam pad.  To shape the petals, I placed the smaller ones in a small molding cup and the larger ones in a jumbo muffin liner.  I find that the liners are the best -- they hold a cup like shape, but not so rigidly that the shape appears fake.  I bent and curved the petals until I was satisfied, and glued the ends together with a little bit of water.  And then I left it to dry.

Remember how I mentioned that these kind of things are supposed to be made a few days in advance?  That's because they take forever to dry.  But, I wasn't going to accept failure at that point! No!  So, I got the brilliant (yes, brilliant, thank you) idea to put the flower outside on top of our black grill.  With the temps of the day into the 80's, that sucker dried right up.

After it was fully dry, I painted the edges of the petal with some gold dust liquified in a high proof liquor and placed a few gold dragees (previously shaken with a little bit of gold dust) in the center. This type of flower is called a fantasy flower, meaning it doesn't actually resemble any real flower, and it's just frilly and pretty (and easy.)

Now, the part I had been waiting for. . . topping the cake with gold leaf.  I didn't want to cover the entire cake, since I had spent I don't know how long trying to tint the fondant to the perfect color, and why do that only to cover the whole thing?? So just the top got coated -- which was really all the gold leaf I had access to anyways.  The package (which happened to come from Thailand) was distressingly small.  Not a lot of room for error -- which always tends to stress me out a little. . .

And have you ever tried to work with gold leaf??? It's insane.  It will stick to anything. ANYTHING!! Except what you want it to stick to.  It seemed to have an uncanny affinity for my fingers, and though it would have been kind of fun, with my really corny sense of humor (I admit it!) to go around to people saying "Look, I'm Goldfinger!" (I know, corny -- I already admitted to it, ok), I really wanted the gold on the cake, not on my person.  (Oh, and another thing?  When working with gold leaf, don't breathe too hard.  Seriously.  I sighed a teeny bit in frustration with the finicky stuff and half of it is now coating my kitchen cabinets. . . ) Anyways, after all of that, with some maneuvering and a really long pair of tweezers (which, not surprisingly, the leaf also wanted to stick to,) I managed. And here it is!

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