Posts Tagged lemon

A Cake Julia Child Would Have Agreed With

Many of you wanted to know just what happened with the great Lavender Lemon Honey Cake, since I didn’t go into particulars on my birthday. After all, there are days when you want to discuss the dirty details of your baking escapades, and then there are days when you just want to be happy that you made a pretty cake. Birthdays are definitely the latter.

(Kind of) Lavender Lemon and (Kind of) Honey Cake

Overall, I can say that the cake was a success. The cake layers were fluffy, the buttercream frosting wasn’t too sweet, and I liked the freshness of the lemon flavor against the other components. Of course, I wish I had done a more careful decorating job, but by the time I was actually frosting the cake I was so tired that all I wanted to do was to get through the ordeal. I think maybe next time I make a cake I need to give myself a seventh inning stretch or something—perhaps in the form of a power nap.

There were, of course, some problems, which is to be expected when you alter a bunch of recipes that you’ve never tried before.

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A Brush With Curdled Milk Disaster

My Lavender Lemon Honey Birthday Cake is well on its way to being completed, and I couldn’t be more satisfied.

In an uncharacteristic move for me, I decided to plan ahead and make the cake layers in advance. So I am quite pleased to say that they are currently sitting in my freezer on a makeshift system of wobbly cooling racks that have been stacked on top of each other.

I decided to make the cake layers the weekend before my birthday because making The Beehive Cake, which I started two days before it was served, was way too stressful. I was so consumed by making sure that each of the cake’s elements came together, I almost fell into that hostess trap where you’re too worried about how the food will turn out to be any fun to talk to.

However, while I’ve been good about starting this cake in advance, I’ve still manged to have several bone-headed moments during its creation. In a much more characteristic move for the space-cadet that I am, the cake had a brush with disaster in its very infancy — all because I never paid attention in chemistry class and completely forgot that lemon juice curdles milk.

You see, I decided to modify a Cake Bible recipe and add some lemon flavoring to Rose Levy Beranbaum’s White Velvet Butter Cake recipe (which I doubled). The White Velvet Butter Cake is a slightly different recipe than the Downy Yellow Butter Cake, which I used to create The Beehive Cake. Instead of using whole eggs, the recipe uses only egg whites. The resulting cake has an exceptionally tender crumb and is a pale, creamy color. It perfectly fulfills my desire to make the Blanche DuBois of cakes — the ultra feminine, ultra girly type of cake best served at a bridal shower, baby shower, or other feminine event.

As I explained in the Banana Bread entry, The Cake Bible uses a two-stage method for mixing cake batter, by first mixing together the dry ingredients, butter, and a little liquid (stage one), and then beating in more liquid in small additions (stage two). The White Velvet Butter Cake uses a combination of egg whites, milk and vanilla in stage two, that is added to the stage one mixture.

And it’s here that I got a little tripped up and almost ruined the cake.

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