Monday, May 11, 2009

The ABC's of Cake

Oh...I'm sorry for the deceiving title of this post. I just couldn't resist. I wish I had something as clever as list in alphabetical order for cake making. In fact - that's not a bad idea. Maybe when I find some time, I'll make one.

But really, this is just a birthday cake with ABC's on it. I got a new set of fondant cutters, I had to use them!

This lovely little cake had one of my favorite things in the middle: Lemon Curd. Yum. I could drink the stuff out of a juice box - if it came that way (in fact, that's not a bad idea).

By the way, I did mean to take a picture of the first layer with the curd poured in the center, but then my mom called, and I was talking to her on the phone and assembling the cake at the same time. Great multitasking, but I was just a little distracted.

At any rate, making this cake was a piece of cake (pun intended):

A Few Days Before Delivery: Baked the cakes, triple wrapped them, and placed in the freezer. I pulled them out the day I planned to decorate.

Two Days Before Delivery: Made the lemon curd. My new favorite cake book has a recipe, but I didn't want to use it. I'm in love with Alton Brown's lemon curd recipe which is so easy, and smooth, and flavorful. Don't worry, I've included it at the end.

The Next Day/Evening Before Delivery:

1) Made the fondant cutouts. Now, I buy my fondant. I don't mess with making the stuff because making it just isn't worth it. And let's face it - fondant isn't that delicious (at least not as delicious as lemon curd mixed with some buttercream...Oh my!). But I disgress, I buy my fondant, and the brands I use are as follows: Pettinice if I'm going to plain, white, vanilla fondant. If I need something colored (and for bold colored fondants such as red or black, you're better off buying the stuff and saving yourself a massive backache and headache) I use Satin Ice. It's good, but I've gotten better compliments on the pettinice fondant. So, like I said, if you need a really, really bold color - just buy the stuff. I don't know if Pettinice makes colored fondants (I haven't seen anything other than ivory or chocolate which I'm assuming is brown), but maybe the store I shop at doesn't carry it if they do.

Anyway, a little trick I found with the fondant letters that I cut out: because the cutters were so small it wasn't enough to dust the cutters in confectioner's sugar, it helped to mix a little sugar with the fondant to stiffen it up a bit. Normally, when covering a cake, I wouldn't do that in order to prevent the fondant from drying and cracking, but in this instance, it really helped when it was time to coax the cutters away from the fondant letters.

2) Leveled, filled, crumb coated the cake - then cleaned the kitchen. Next applied final layer of buttercream. Decorated! I used a Wilton #12 round tip for the boarders.

Lemon Curd
By: Alton Brown

Makes 1 pint

5 egg yolks (save the whites!)
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled

1) Add enough water to a medium-sized saucepan to come up about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

2) Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized metal bowl (I used a glass one, oh well) and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.

3) Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to equal 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth.

4) Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl over saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit over saucepan without touching the water.)

5) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.

6) Remove promptly from heat and add butter one piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt completely before adding the next.

7) Remove to a clean container and cover by placing a layer of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

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