Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Golden Lemon Lavender Almond Cake, and 72 hours in the kitchen

Hello lovely readers. I just spent Friday through Sunday in my kitchen, baking three different cakes, making four fillings, seven syrups, and three different frostings (one frosting I made three times). I went through about four dozen eggs and five boxes of butter! And when I was done with that, I grabbed my placenta kit and went to somebody else's kitchen to encapsulate their placenta. It is nice to be busy, but it is also nice to be able to sit on my couch under a blanket.

Luckily, one of the cakes I baked this weekend qualifies as my free choice cake, which I am thankful for because I couldn't imagine washing another round of baking related dishes just yet.

golden lemon lavender almond cake

February 21, 2011
Name of Cake: Prototype of the bottom tier
Occasion: A Cake Tasting for a Wedding
Constituents: Golden Lemon Almond Cake with lavender, syruped with turbinado-lemon-lavender syrup, filled with either White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream or White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Buttercream, Frosted with Silk Meringue Buttercream. Or as cakelettes, no fillings or frosting.

So my friends Sam and Andrea are getting hitched this summer and hired me to do their wedding cake. I know! Isn't that awesome? We met last month and got all excited about cake flavors and syrups and frostings and whatnot. So I told them we should meet again to do a tasting and finalize the cake in a month. Yesterday (Sunday) was that tasting.

At our first meeting they told me they are big fans of the lemon, and I excitedly pulled out my copy of Rose's Heavenly Cakes and pointed out the Golden Lemon Almond Wedding Cake to them. They were receptive, but wanted a whiter frosting, and also wanted chocolate for the other two layers. No problem, I said, excitedly flipping to the Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake. We could do the top layers with this cake, and frost all three layers in a white buttercream so they all match. (Bummer--it would have been so fun to do the lacquer glaze for a three tiered cake!) Then they mentioned lemon-lavender. No problem, I said, I can figure that out.

So for yesterday's tasting, I decided to make little 6 inch cakes. Once I realised Free Cake Week coincided with the tasting week, I decided to make a bigger batch of the GLA (Golden Lemon Almond) and bake off the extra as little cakelettes for my free cake selection. But now that I am here blogging, I might as well tell you about all the GLA variations.

golden lemon lavender almond cake

I made the full 10 cup recipe for the GLA, except I scraped 400 grams into two 6 inch pans (so 800 grams batter total). The rest went into 4 cakelette molds--about 100 grams each. I knew that there may be baking powder discrepancies, but I was also about 12 hours behind in my schedule, so I didn't care.

golden lemon lavender almond cake

Here's my variation: when grinding the almonds in the food processor, I added two teaspoons dried lavender flowers. Initially I was worried about where the heck I was going to find food-grade lavender flowers, but then remembered that--HELLO--I stare at food-grade lavender every day I'm at my clinic as it is in our herbal dispensary. I can't believe I forgot about that as first! Those two teaspoons were just enough to perfume the cake but not overpower it.

golden lemon lavender almond cake

Also, when making the turbinado-lemon syrup, I threw in a packet of about half a teaspoon lavender. Since this syrup doesn't come to a boil, I'm not sure how well the lavender steeped, so I'm not sure about this extra step. I might nestle a packet of lavender in the pre-measured turbinado a week before I make the syrup or something. Don't know.

I syruped both the cakes and the cakelettes, the latter of which got the pretty little sugar sparklies. I haven't tasted a cakelette yet but they look really pretty.

golden lemon lavender almond cake

The 6 inch cakes also got syruped but today, two days after being syruped, the syrup still hadn't penetrated all the way through the cake layer. I don't think it is too big of a problem, also my apartment has been really freaking cold lately. In the summer, room temperature will be about 30 degrees warmer than it is right now. That will probably make a difference in the rate the syrup penetrates the cake, don't you think?

making lemon curd
making the lemon curd for the white chocolate lemon buttercream

When coming up with a lemon buttercream for the filling, I decided we ought to try out both the buttercream called for in the wedding cake--the White Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Buttercream, which is perfumed with lemon oil and zest--and the buttercream we used for Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake--the White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream, which uses lemon curd. Besides that main difference, the latter buttercream had a good deal more butter, and the former was much easier to make. I made about 2 cups of both frostings, and filled half the 6 inch with one and the other half with the other. I marked on the cakeboard where the delineation was, and what was where, so that when we were cutting up the cake we knew what we were eating. The vanilla bean/lemon oil frosting won out, which made me happy as it was easier to make :) The lemon oil gave it a nice tart punch which perked up the whole cake and helped keep the lavender in the background.

making lemon curd

I decided to frost this cake with Rose's Silk Meringue Buttercream. I had never made it before and by the time it came to make it I was so far behind schedule I almost considered rescheduling the tasting for another day. This buttercream has three components: a creme anglaise, an italian meringue, and butter. I made a half recipe for this since I was only frosting a 6 in cake, and it turned out to be the perfect amount. All the components were easy to put together and the buttercream came together fairly well at first. I had the heaters on pretty high in the front room so that there was somewhere in my house that was about 70 degrees so I could frost the cake. My kitchen, however, was still pretty cold so after mixing up the buttercream I brought the cake and the frosting to the front room to frost. The buttercream got spongy as I frosted, then it started to separate as I frosted. The more I tried to frost, the more difficult it became. Also, it was too yellow to be considered a white frosting for a wedding. It tasted like vanilla ice cream which was wonderful. However, I fired it.

golden lemon lavender almond cake
on the left: the white chocolate vanilla bean buttercream, on the right: the white chocolate lemon buttercream

This cake is so dense and sour cream bundty, it is an interesting choice for a wedding cake. Now I wouldn't mind it at all since I am officially in love with sour cream bundts, but I wasn't sure if Sam and Andrea would be on board. Luckily, they were, phew!

The other two cakes I brought for tasting were made with the German Chocolate Base, and deserve a whole post on their own. So I will save it for another day.

12 comments:

  1. Oooooh what an adventure. Isn't it crazy (why did I offer to do this?) and exciting (oh my gosh, I'm really doing this) at the same time??!! :o) I remember my first wedding cake 2 summers ago. When you deliver it and hear how everybody just loved it, you forget all about the blood, sweat and tears.
    Your cakelettes are super adorable. Actually everything you made sounds really wonderful. I'm hooked. I can't wait for the sequel: "Chocolate" :o)

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  2. Holy cupcakes, Batman!

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  3. I have to second Marie's statement... I still fighting my cold and I got lazy even thinking about putting together an easy cake... *head hung low* you put me to shame.

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  4. Hanaa, yes, that is a pretty good summation of how I felt about the first wedding cake I made a couple of years ago! You will enjoy the sequel as it involves making light whipped ganache the Hanaa way! I thought of you when I made it :)

    Marie, haha!

    Monica, aw, no shame my friend! Let's prefer to think that I made enough cake for the both of us this weekend.

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  5. I don't know how you could stand after all that baking! It all looks delicious.

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  6. Vicki, my legs were sore! It felt so nice to walk briskly, instead of just standing.

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  7. Wow, you are quite the master cake-maker! And your long days of cake-making leave me feeling pretty lazy! But I may have to try a smaller version of a lemon-lavender cake...that sounds like a brilliant combo. I've got lavender oil I used in my truffles, I'll bet I could incorporate that somehow.

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  8. Amanda, the GLA is a delicious cake, in fact I want to make it again! I bet lavender oil would be a good way to get some lavender in there.

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  9. I don't know how you spent 72 hours baking! I spent 16 hours baking once - to make 2 9 inch birthday cakes (2 different flavor) - and I vowed not to do it again...

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  10. That being said, the cakelets looks super awesome - love the really golden color.

    And I look forward to reading part 2 of wedding cake tasting.

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  11. Jenn, it was crazy. I had planned to space out all the prep over the week leading up, but I got sick and spent the week laying on the couch feeling like crap!

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  12. I love reading about your experience with wedding cake tastings. I started making wedding cakes in 2009 and have made 3 so far. Each one is a new learning experience. What a lucky couple!

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