Wednesday, March 31, 2010

and she decreed... "let there be cake"

Last Friday was Gigi's birthday. Yes, that's right, the BIG 3-0. We celebrated with sushi, wine, beer and lots of laughter. And then as Marie Antoinette decreed, we had cake!

I decided to stay away from a dark or milk chocolate cake and baked a two layered white chocolate cake, filled with a raspberry buttercream (shockingly pink yes, but oh so delicious), covered with a cream cheese buttercream and then decorated with fresh raspberries and shaved white chocolate. Yes it tasted even better than it sounds...

The cake is dense enough to hold all that buttercream, and the tangyness of the cream cheese frosting balanced the sweetness from the raspberries. So much butter. So much sugar. So perfect! A little side note - it's best to bake the cake a day ahead - so that it has the chance to completely cool before being frosted.

Happy Birthday Gigi :0)

Essential White Chocolate Cake
to make two 9 x 2-inch round cake layers
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3 1/2 cup cake flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. whole milk, at room temperature
1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Spray your two 9 inch rounds with nonstick spray and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Toss in the chopped white chocolate. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg whites and milk; set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until soft and creamy (approx. 4 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy - increase the speed from "stir" to about a 4. Scrape down the bowl a couple of times (beat for about 5 minutes). Add the vanilla.

Add the flour in 4 additions, alternating between the flour and milk/egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. You want to beat until smooth on the stir speed after each addition.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops (I tap my pans against the counter to get all the air bubbles out and it also levels out the batter). Bake for 35 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 10 - 15 minutes. Then remove them and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature if assembling within 24 hours.

Raspberry Buttercream
*everything here is estimations... since I really was playing it by ear
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
3 - 4 c. powdered sugar
1 - 2 tbsp raspberry syrup
1 1/2 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen

In the bowl of your stand-mixer you'll cream the butter and half the powdered sugar together - as it blends you should increase the speed. Then slowly add the syrup - I really did just estimate - no measurements when adding this ingredient. Add more powdered sugar to increase the volume of your frosting. Keep beating - this could mean that your stand-mixer is going to run for about 10 minutes... but that way you end up with that really fluffy, creamy texture and that's when you'll want to toss in your raspberries. Keep beating - especially if you are using frozen berries, so that the frosting loosens up and is easily spreadable.

The result is a bright pink buttercream with flecks of raspberry pieces tossed within.

Keep it at room temperature so that it is easy to spread (unless making ahead, then store in an airtight container in the fridge, and re-beat prior to using it to loosen it up again).

Grab your cakes, level them out (use a serrated knife) and spread a thick layer of the buttercream over the bottom layer - seriously, go to town with this - the more the happier your taste buds ;0) Then top with your second layer of cake.

Step number 3 (almost done... promise)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
1 package cream cheese (block), at room temperature
1/4 c. butter, room temperature
4 - 6 c. powdered sugar
1 - 2 tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla

Grab that stand-mixer again! Using the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and the butter (do this for about 3 minutes). Add half of the powdered sugar and increase the speed as everything combines, adding the vanilla and a bit of the milk - you want to reach that creamy, fluffy and smooth texture - so just the mixer going, adding more powdered sugar as you need it. I strongly encourage the taste-test method... taste the frosting as you make it; you don't want an overly sweet buttercream, you really want the tangy taste of the cream cheese to shine - it balances the overly sweetness of the raspberry buttercream.

I let the mixer go for about 10 minutes before I thought that the frosting had reached the proper consistency and flavour combination. Then I grabbed my big knife and spatula and covered the entire cake with a thin layer - this was a very thin layer that just got all the crumbs. Once that was done, I took the remainder of the frosting and completely covered the rest of the cake... a nice thick layer of frosting. Top with your fresh raspberries (a pint should do) and some shaved white chocolate (I used my vegetable peeler to shave some white chocolate onto the top of the cake).

I think even Marie Antoinette would have approved. A seriously awesome cake. I promise.

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