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Entries in cakes (2)

Sunday
Mar252012

Monthly Miettes : Tomboy Cake

My friend Aimee over at Food Je t'Aimee came up with nifty idea to start a monthly baking challenge using the lovely Miette bakebook by Meg Ray. Aimme says, 'The book, in a word, is darling. The pages, scalloped and glossy. The photos, stunning. The recipes, challenging, but enticing. The instant I laid my eyes on it, I knew I had to try and create beautiful cakes like the ones in Miette.'

Aimee writes, 'Having signed up for so many blogging events out there last fall, I decided it was high time that I begun my own. So I wrote to Meg and told her about my idea for a blogging challenge called Monthly Miettes. She wrote back saying that she dug the idea. I was elated! I wanted it to be easy to participate - the recipes themselves are challenging enough and Lord knows I don't have much time these days! - so the rules are quite straightforward. Buy the book. Make one cake per month along with me and then post about it. Link back to this post. Let me know you've posted by leaving me a comment, and I'll do a round up the following month. That's it!'

Aimee also writes, 'For the first month, I've chosen the cover recipe: Tomboy Cake. You have from now until March 25th, 2012 to submit your post. Wait - there's one more rule! When you make your cake, you must, must eat a slice for breakfast, along with a steaming mug of coffee (or whatever it is you drink to wake up!).' 

Mmmmmm... cake for breakfast. I'm in!!

From Miette.com - The Tomboy gets its name from the unfinished, but decidedly feminine, way that we decorate this cake. It starts with our double-chocolate cake and is layered with vanilla buttercream. Our buttercream is made the European way, starting with Italian meringue and adding pure Straus butter. The result is luxuriously smooth and not too sweet. The cake and frosting together are perfectly balanced and proportioned.

The cake was delicious - moist and super chocolatey. The Italian Meringue Buttercream was actually pretty easy to make and was lightly decadent however, the book is not well-edited and so confusing that I'm not sure how anxious I am to try another recipe.

For example, the recipe for Vanilla Buttercream has major continuity issues. A small paper insert is included inside the book that note's the corrections to be made which would be fine and dandy if the information on the card was correct. In one section you are told to heat the simple syrup for the buttercream to 248 degrees yet in another section it reads 238 degrees. That's a huge discrepancy when you are talking about stages of cooked sugar. Since the recipe calls for 6 sticks of butter I wanted to do some research before I possibly wasted good ingredients. I landed on this awesome video by CakeLove's Warren Brown to clarify how to correctly make the buttercream and it turned out beautifully.

The recipe for the Double Chocolate Cake was clear and straightforward. One of the steps involves straining the incredibly lumpy batter through a fine to medium mesh sieve. This took about 20 minutes and was, quite frankly, a pain in the ass, however, i feel it was worth it because the cake batter had the consistency of a silky chocolate pudding and baked into an incredibly moist and supple cake. The recipe is portioned to bake two six-inch round cakes, each cut into three layers. I couldn't find six-inch cake pans, so I used two eight-inch cake pans, cut each in half and made one four-layer cake.

One tip from the recipe that I thought was really great is to dust the inside of your greased cake pans with cocoa instead of flour - no white residue left on the outside of the baked cakes!

Despite the inconsistencies in the Buttercream recipe, I will most likely participate in next month's Miettes - everyone that tried this cake loved it and that really is the main thing isn't it?

Saturday
Jun192010

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Friends of ours flew to Mexico in late April, a small group of family in tow, to get hitched. Soon after their return, looking tanned and fabulous, they came to our house for dinner one evening. As they walked into our kitchen, the new 'Mrs.' handed me a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. I was touched that they would even think to bring me home a gift while away on such a momentous journey. I untied the string and unwrapped the paper to reveal a smooth dark shiny bottle of Mexican Vanilla. I cracked the top, brought the bottle to my nose closed my eyes and let the fragrance work its magic. Immediately I knew this vanilla was different than any I had ever met - like a great bottle of wine there were complex things happening inside the bottle - the heady scent of buttery caramel, the sweet joy of the 'Happy Birthday' scratch and sniff stickers from my childhood, combined with images of the clear barley 'Toy Candy' my mum used to buy every Christmas when we were kids. I opened my eyes and found myself back in our kitchen, no longer 12 years old clutching my stickerbook under my arm. It always makes me wonder - how many more times in my life will I think about those memories? It's truly wondrous what a smell can do to you. I tucked the bottle into my baking cupboard and we had a great dinner.

Two weeks later, 'Mr. and Mrs.' hosted a wedding reception at their house. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if they had something at their Nova Scotia reception with a little Mexican authenticity?' This is where the Mexican Wedding Cakes come in. I had never heard of them before but after some online research I found a great recipe on Epicurious. They looked cute in the photo, had a ton of rave reviews, seemed super easy and would give me the chance to use my Mexican Vanilla!! I offered to make a batch to use as a wedding favour and my offer was quickly and graciously accepted. 

Two days before the reception, I baked 100 'cakes' (the cakes are actually bite-sized nutty shortbread cookies dusted with icing sugar). One day before, I created and printed personalized tags and put each cake into its own small clear cellophane bag. I tied each bag with a piece of bright, festive ribbon laced with a tag and displayed them in a large galvanized metal bucket. When we left the reception Sean and I took a few cakes home with us. I liked the cakes but Sean LOVED them - he said they were his favourite thing that I've made yet since we've been together. I told him that was a BOLD statement but he insisted it was true. Men are so easy to please!!

Click here for the recipe!!