Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Birthday cake (and more cake!)

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The monster in the fridge

This past weekend was my good friend Susan's birthday party, and I figured I could use the practice, so I volunteered to make her cake. The request was for an almond cake, and I had fantasties of a box shape, decorated like a present. Most of all, I wanted it to be tall. The cake layers baked up a bit denser and flatter than I would have liked (sometimes it just doesn't work quite right to double or triple baking recipes, and I think I wound up with a little too much egg by the time I doubled this one) so I made a meringue layer to go in the middle, and several layers of filling - chocolate ganache and a vanilla almond pastry cream - with raspberry jam for good measure. Susan likes the color combination of pink and brown, so I decided to frost the cake with a pink stabilized whipped cream flavored with a little almond extract, and decorate it with a chocolate marzipan ribbon. (If you read my earlier post, I did not get around to the cookies this time, but I am sure I will at some point!)
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all packed up and ready to go

To make the ribbons, I kneaded the marzipan and melted chocolate with a little corn syrup and powdered sugar. It tasted kind of like an almond tootsie roll. I really wanted a three dimensional bow that would stand up - but I decided my "dough" wasn't stiff enough, and added more confectioner's sugar. The dough went crumbly - then too soft again when I added a bit of corn syrup, so I wound up having to just roll it out and cut out the bow. Even then it was a bit sloppier than I would have liked, but that's what I get for tinkering with it!
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a slice (with meringue on the bottom)

I got the idea for the meringue layer from a cake an old boyfriend's mother used to make. His family was from Argentina, and she made a wonderful cake with sponge layers stacked with dulce de leche, meringue and whipped cream. This was pretty close to what I remember, though my meringue stayed soft on the inside, despite being dried overnight in the oven. I think it was the type - I made an Italian meringue, which means the egg whites and sugar were heated to 120 degrees and then beaten. It did add a good contrast in terms of texture and flavor - it was crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.

I was worried that there wouldn't be enough. Turns out even though there were about twenty people there, the birthday girl was still left with cake coming out her ears. Luckily, I don't think she was terribly unhappy about that!

Happy Birthday Susan!


  1. Dear God in Heaven does that look fantastic. Good work, Alice!


  2. Alice, that cake is stunning!

  3. Thank you! It was fun!

  4. My, my, my! You do have some talent with cake decorating. I'm was impressed with the chocolate marzipan ribbons. Cake looked tasty too.