Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wedding menu

My kitchen has not been a bastion of creative cookery it used to be. At the moment there are a couple dirty coffee cups in it, and a saucepan with some fruit that topped our pancakes this morning. I quickly gave up on the wedding cake idea. Well, not that quickly actually. I tried about 3 cakes (the birthday cake, a chocolate sour cream cake and a key lime cheesecake) and finally stopped when a friend called me and left a desperate message on my phone saying, "are you crazy? don't try to make your cake. the wedding will be stressful enough." She wasn't the only one raising eyebrows, but it was enough to dissuade me.

Though I haven't compiled many wedding-worthy recipes recently, I have managed to come up with is a list of great local resources for our wedding. As are many families, we are on a tight wedding budget. By being creative about our spending, we have managed to seek out some great local talent, and that is a cause for celebration. Here's a list so far:

1.The dress--My friend Thuy Nguyen of Madison, WI is a talented seamstress and is making a one-of-a-kind dress. The pattern is Badgley Mischka, with embellishments.

2.The fabric--dupioni silk and silk organza bought at a local fabric store Gayfeather Fabrics.

3. The food--African food from Africana, Madison's new restaurant/lounge. The food is great. they will make vegetarian mafe, jollof rice with beef, and grilled chicken and plantain. South African wines and New Glarus beer will quench our thirst!

4. The music--DJ Laurie will be spinning music from the African diaspora!

5. The Cake-- Carl's cakes.

Alright, expect some pictures soon!
That's all for now folks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fiona's Birthday Cake






Well, after 3 days of cooking I finally finished the cake. Okay, it wasn't really 3 days TOTAL, but with 2 small kids, I had to pace myself. Lets just say that I will certainly be bride-zilla if I try this for our wedding. It was good however and got rave reviews from the friends who came over.
I will post the recipe here (adapted from this recipe). I did not use the lemon filling, but made a raspberry mousse instead. YUM! (There's still some cake left and it keeps well...Guten Appetit!)
NOTE: I HALVED the recipe (the numbers you see here are for 2 cakes to serve 44 people) and cooked the batter in a 9 inch springform pan. It was very full and took a while to cook and slightly burned, so I recommend using less batter and well, maybe following their instructions? Also, I did not really use the lemon syrup, seemed to wet and sweet.
All in all delicious, but very time consuming. And I can't cut a layer cake very well.

Lemon Berry Wedding Cake

For cake
13 large eggs
5 1/2 cups sugar
2 2/3 cups vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (about 21 ounces)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup grated lemon peel (from about 8 lemons)
3 tablespoons orange liqueur
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For frosting
11 large egg yolks
3 1/4 cups plus 7 tablespoons sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 pounds unsalted butter, cut into large pieces, room temperature
3/4 cup water

7 large egg whites

For mousse:

2 cups fresh raspberries or frozen
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups whipped cream
1/4 cup sugar

Make cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter bottom of 12-inch-diameter cheesecake pan(not springform) with 3-inch-high sides and removable bottom. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

Beat eggs, sugar, and oil in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer and medium-low speed 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is very thick and falls in heavy ribbon when beater is lifted, about 5 minutes. Whisk cheese, orange juice, lemon peel, liqueur, lemon juice, and vanilla in medium bowl until well blended. Add cheese mixture to egg mixture; beat at low speed until just blended. Transfer to extra-large bowl (at least 6-quart capacity). Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Sift dry ingredients over batter in 5 additions, whisking to blend after each addition. Transfer about 11 cups batter to 12-inch prepared pan and about 5 cups batter to 8-inch prepared pan (batter should be of equal depth in both pans).

Bake cakes until golden brown in firm (tops may crack) and tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating pans occasionally for even baking and covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly; about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool completely.

Make preliminary assembly:
Cut around sides of cakes to loosen. Push up pan bottoms, releasing cakes from pan. If necessary, cut between parchment and pan bottoms to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto surface. Peel off parchment. Wash and dry pans and reassemble.

Using long serrated knife, cut off doomed top of 8-inch cake to level. Cut cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Place bottom cake layer, cut side up, on 8-inch cardboard. Place cake on cardboard back into pan. Brush bottom layer with 1/4 cup lemon syrup. Spread with 1 1/2 cups lemon filling. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups raspberries. Place top cake layer atop raspberries; press cake lightly to compact. Brush with 1/4 cup syrup. (Assembled cake may be higher than pan sides.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Using long serrated knife, cut off doomed top of 12-inch cake to level. Cut cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Place bottom layer, cut side up, on 12-inch cardboard. Place cake on cardboard back into pan. Brush with 1/2 cup lemon syrup. Spread with 3 cups lemon filling. Sprinkle with 2 cups raspberries. Using 10- or 11-inch diameter tart pan as aid, slide top layer onto raspberries. Press cake lightly to compact. Brush with 1/2 cup syrup. (Assembled cake may be higher than pan sides.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate both cakes overnight.

Make mousse:

In a saucepan combine raspberries and sugar. Heat and stir over medium heat until turn to liquid. Stir in gelatin. Remove from heat and scrape into a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove chilled whipped cream from refrigerator. Mix 1 cup of whipped cream into raspberry mixture until well combined. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Store in fridge until ready to use.

Make frosting:
Whisk yolks and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl to blend. Bring milk and lemon peel just to boil in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk hot milk into yolk mixture. Return to same saucepan. Stir custard over medium heat until thick, about 3 minutes ( do not allow custard to boil). Strain custard into extra-large (6-quart) metal bowl; add vanilla extract. Using handheld electric mixer, beat custard until custard lightens and custard cools to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Gradually add butter; beat until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl often. (If buttercream appears curdled at any time, place bowl directly over heat for several seconds. Remove from heat and beat well; repeat warming and beating as necessary to achieve smooth texture). Set buttercream aside at room temperature.

Stir 2 1/4 cups sugar and 3/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and boil syrup without stirring until thermometer registers 240°F, occasionally brushing down sugar crystals from sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer until stiff but not dry. Gradually add 5 tablespoons sugar and beat until firm glossy peaks form. Gradually beat hot sugar syrup into egg whites. Continue to beat 2 minutes longer. Place bowl of meringue into larger bowl filled with ice and water. Using handheld electric mixer with clean beaters, continue to beat until meringue cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Gradually add meringue to buttercream, beating until well blended.

Cut around all sides of 8-inch cake. Push up pan bottom, releasing cake from pan. Remove pan bottom, leaving cake on cardboard base. If desired, place cake on revolving cake stand. Using offset spatula, spread thin layer of frosting (about 2 1/3 cups) over top and sides of cake to anchor crumbs. Refrigerate cakes on their cardboard bases until frosting is firm, about 1 hour.

Spread enough frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) over top and sides of 8-inch cake to coat. Spread enough frosting (about 3 cups) over tops and sides of 12-inch cake to coat. Dip large offset spatula into very hot water to warm blade; wipe dry. Run spatula over sides and tops of cakes, warming spatula repeatedly as necessary, until frosting is smooth. Using pastry bag fitted with small plain round tip, pipe border of small frosting dots around top edge of each cake. Refrigerate both cakes uncovered on their cardboard bases until frosting hardens, about 4 hours. (Once frosting is hardened, cakes can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to two days or double-wrapped with plastic and frozen up to two weeks. Before continuing with recipe, thaw wrapped frozen cakes overnight in refrigerator.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Testing, testing (cakes that is)

I am getting married in about 5 weeks (coming up fast!) and have this crazy idea that I should make my own wedding cake. I have been testing recipes, or I should say I tested one recipe so far. I made a banana cake with a chocolate mousse layer and a chocolate ganache. The mousse turned out great, the gananche tasted a bit like cheap chocolate (it was) and the never-fail banana bread recipe I used was a bit heavy for a cake. I will try it again with a lighter cake recipe. Any recipe suggestions?

Tomorrow I am going to make a lemon cake with a raspberry mousse and a lemon butter cream frosting. I will write more about the frosting later, let's just say it was WAY more complicated than any frosting I have ever made. Basically it entailed making a custard and adding butter. Then making a merengue, then mixing them together. I am not sure if I did it right, but it tastes great! The raspberry mousse is made with gelatin and whipped cream and tastes good, but is not so spreadable. So we will see. I will try to remember to post pictures before it is assembled and devoured.