Thursday, August 7, 2008
Piece o' Cake
So for Ben's birthday, I had lots of elaborate plans for the birthday cake. At first, it started out as just wanting to make the "fluffy yellow layer cake" recipe I found in Cook's Illustrated. But then I needed a good frosting -- eventually deciding to lemon-ize both the yellow cake and my faithful standby buttercream frosting. But then, I thought, all that lemon might be too much, so I should add a filling -- like a blackberry curd with whipped cream folded in. Made from scratch.
Here's the trouble. I'm a better cake baker in my mind than I am in my real life. The frosting turned out pretty well -- I've done it enough times now so I have the hang of it. And the curd was very tasty -- I'd recommend it if you're in the market for blackberry curd. (This is the curd recipe I used. It calls for raspberries, but I was mixing it up.) But the cake came out kind of dry and not at all fluffy.
I know cake baking is a real science, so part of my problem is my dislike for leveling measuring cups. I'm of the "close enough" school of thought. But I really went out of my way to be accurate this time. And I made sure I had good baking powder (which has been a problem in the past). And I even used cake flour. Swan's Down, to be exact. A fairly unappetizing name, if you ask me.
When it came time to layer and frost, the cake was looking a little small. And kind of uneven. So I did what any good baker would do -- I covered the whole thing in whipped cream.
Oh well. I guess I'll just keep practicing. In the meantime, if you'd like to see examples of some beautiful (and delicious) cakes, check out what my friend Ellen does! This is one talented baker.
The food: Ben's birthday cake
The verdict: Not fluffy enough