Monday, July 9, 2012

Duo of Fabric Inspired Cakes

The first wedding cake of the season is complete. It was a great warm up, simple, small, and bold, it got my piping hands geared up for the rest of the summer, that's for sure. I also completed my first ever baby shower cake, which was a total departure for me, tons of color and polka dots, buttons and flowers. While these two cakes are so, so different from each other, they have one thing in common. They are both derived, more or less, from fabric.

The wedding cake was a very specific request. The bride wanted something very simple, no flowers or hearts or any of that mushy stuff, but still wanted the cake to stand out and be bold and modern. She loved a paisley print cake she had seen online and had some fun colors to incorporate. Paisley can be totally overwhelming and busy, (think colorful 70's polyester shirts) but it can also be a striking motif when you restrain it a bit. 

I remember saying that I had been wanting to do a gray and yellow cake for a while, and now it seems like grey is the wedding color of the year. Each wedding cake I have slated for this summer has gray on the palette, and I couldn't be happier. I hadn't piped anything in a while, so it was off to a shaky start, but by the end I was a dot-piping machine. 

The second cake was for a friend of a friend's baby shower. The design for this cake was a cinch after seeing their baby registry. All of the baby blankets, quilts, and pillows have this multicolored pattern of fabrics around the edges and it was something they wanted to incorporate into the cake and cupcakes.

Having already picked out a name, the initials of the baby were placed front and center. This was such a fun project, though I always forget how difficult horizontal fondant bands are to get straight and even. I will never learn.

Between the color palette, and the patterns, not to mention the yummy lemon cake with raspberry buttercream, I hope this cake made the shower day a little extra special. 

Lemon Cupcakes & Raspberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
cake adapted from Bon Apetit Magazine
(This batter would probably be enough for 18-24 cupcakes, I only made 12 and baked the rest of the batter in a cake pan) 

1 3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (8 oz) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In your stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition, and mix each one in until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mix well, and scrape bowl. 

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, scrape, then 1/2 of the buttermilk, scrape, and repeat ending with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Using a ice cream scoop, fill your muffin tins about 2/3 the way full and bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick entered into the middle comes out clean and the cake is just turning a light golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack. 

Raspberry Italian Meringue Buttercream

4 oz egg whites
2 oz water
8 oz sugar
12 oz butter
3 tablespoons raspberry jam
pink food coloring (if desired)

Place egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin whipping the whites on medium-high speed. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and using a candy thermometer, heat the sugar to soft ball stage, or 240 F. The eggs at this point should  be voluminous and frothy. Slowly pour the sugar into the egg whites in a steady stream, while the mixer is on high. 

Let the mixer run on high (I usually set it to one number below the very highest setting) until the mixture has cooled completely. Switch to the paddle attachment, and add the butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing on a medium-low speed. Once all the butter has been added, turn your mixer to high and whip for 3-5 minutes until frosting is light and smooth. Add the raspberry jam and food coloring and mix to incorporate.

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