Tuesday, January 30, 2007
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!)
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!
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!