Monday, October 13, 2008

Icing for Cakes!

Now, here's the thing people should know about me. I love my canned icing. That stuff is fantastic. You can just eat it right out of the can. With a spoon. After spoonful after spoonful. Well, not anymore because of how sensitive my teeth, but I still daydream about it. And then it's a little bit hard but yet good.
I've never liked the icing that comes on cakes that are bought. I mean, fine, I'll eat it, but it's way too sugary for me.
So Chef had a hard sell in me. But now I get it. She said the stuff I've eaten is probably Jewel cakes, and what they call buttercream isn't buttercream as chefs know it. Alright, she wins. But I'll still happily eat my betty crocker vanilla icing.

Italian Buttercream
Heat sugar and water to 240 degrees (soft-ball stage). Soft-ball stage: stick an ice-cold hand (or, really, because that takes years of baking and burning your hands to get those callouses, stick in a metal spoon) into the boiling sugar and immediately into an ice bath, where you see if you can form a ball - if you can, turn off heat, and immediately pour the sugar down the side of the mixer. BUT. While you're heating the sugar, whip egg whites into soft peaks. Don't pour the sugar until the eggs are at this stage, and don't pour any on the paddle attachment! Continue whipping on high speed till mixture is completely cool. Once cooled, gradually whip in softened butter in clumps. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract. Then we bagged and cooled.

Make lemon curd. Unfortunately, I have misplaced this recipe, so couldn't tell you exactly how it was done. It's made on the stovetop - so heat a lot of lemon juice with cornstarch? Ha. I'll get back to you on that. So what's happening in these steps is that I'm putting together the chiffon cake. First, cut it into two or three layers, depending on height. Make a border of buttercream, then fill in with lemon curd. Imitate at each layer.

This is the finished product:

lay down a layer of "crumb coat." This protects the final layer from having any crumbs on it. Theoretically. I was a little messy this day. But's that's all about practice makes perfect. Cool in between crumb coat and final layer of icing. Then cool again, and make indentations with back of knife for slices. Make a rosette for each piece and a tiny dot of lemon curd. What goes on top should indicate the flavoring inside. That crumb edge covers up the harder parts to ice - bakers have their tricks! I can't remember exactly what it is called.

Shoot. I'm clearly missing a page out of my recipe packet. Melt some chocolate and pour over the leveled devil's food cake.
Oh, to level a cake, cut top to make even, then flip the cake to make the bottom the top: this way you guarantee you have a flat top since the pan you baked the cake in theoretically should have a flat bottom.

Pour the ganache evenly and quickly, making sure to cover all side. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Move the cake around the rack so no "feet" form at the bottom of the cake.

Paddle almond paste and corn syrup together till well icorporated. Add in sifted powdered sugar and blend very well. This covers the almond cake.
Wait, I'll back up. First, slice the almond cake in half. Cover with a thin layer of apricot jam. Then lay down top layer. Cover with rolled out marzipan. Cut with bisquit cutters into desired size. As you can see, my cake is a little uneven and would never do for a formal event. But I think they're kind of cute all lopsided! These will be covered with a layer of poured fondant and then roses will be created on top. I had a photo, I thought.

Lessons Learned:
Seriously love this. It is so much fun! I think if there weren't so much time pressure, it would be even better. And I know with more practice I can do an even better job. I could see doing this for an externship - helping out at a catering company or under a patisserie in a restaurant.

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