Thursday, February 17, 2011

Berry Berry Good Cake

I can always count on April for some good baking talk during a long work day.

I wish I had a picture of the cake she made me for my birthday, because it was absolutely beautiful and undoubtedly delicious.

Last year I made April a Hello Kitty cake, but this year she requested something very different..something with fruit and cream. I turned to Martha for inspiration.

Martha Stewart always makes the most extraordinary looking cakes- she manages to create these beautiful, yet simple, and very classy desserts that appear effortless. She uses only top of the line ingredients and believes in a nice presentation just as much as the taste.

Nothing but the best for Martha...

and nothing but the best for our April!

A few cakes caught my eye, one in particular featured a Swiss Meringue Buttercream...a new beast in my cake decorating. I've dabbled in Italian Buttercream, but being part Swiss I thought I should represent a little! Although a little more time consuming than your average buttercream and much more finicky ingredients, the result is a ridiculously smooth and oh so sweet frosting for any cake.

But what about the fruit and cream you ask??

A batch of basic pastry cream, split into two- one combined with a quick raspberry puree and the other blueberry.

And so it was complete: my favorite White Cake, smothered between layers of alternating Raspberry and Blueberry pastry cream, covered with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and delicately decorated for my favorite admin.

1-2-3-4 Cake
(My absolute favorite White Cake)
Oven: 350 Bake Time: 35 minutes
Makes 2 or 3 8-inch round cakes

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated each time.
Alternate flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour.
Beat eggs whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold into batter until incorporated.
Transfer batter to prepared cake pans and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Transfer to cooling rack for 30 minutes before removing cakes to continue cooling for at least an hour.

Pastry Cream
recipe from Baked:New Frontiers in Baking
3 cups half and half
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBS cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, heat half and half to a simmer and keep warm.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together until mixture is pale (about a minute).
Whisk half of warm half and half into egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture into remaining half and half in saucepan continuing to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened (about 6 minutes).
Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
Transfer cream to bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Place in fridge for about an hour before using.

Raspberry Cream: Place 1 cup raspberries in small saucepan and mash with fork or potato masher. Add 2 TBS sugar and warm over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool completely before adding to cold pastry cream.

Blueberry Cream: Place 1 cup blueberries in small saucepan and mash with fork or potato masher. Add 2 TBS sugar and warm over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. All to cool completely before adding to cold pastry cream.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Combination of recipe from Martha and Bake Wise
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 TBS butter
7 TBS Crisco
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar and salt in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (double boiler).
Whisk constantly until mixture is warm to the touch (120-130 degrees) and sugar has dissolved.
Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment.
Starting on low, gradually increase to medium-high speed until stiff peaks are formed. Continue to mix until mixture is glossy and fluffy and completely cool (about 10 minutes).
With mixer on medium low, add butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Once all butter has been added, add vanilla.
Change to paddle attachment and continue to beat until frosting is smooth.

Happy Baking!