Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Traveling Cakes

Friday is my sister-in-law’s birthday, she will be 26. We live about 300 miles from her and cannot drive down to celebrate. Is it any wonder with the price of gas? So…I am sending her our part of the celebration. Mailing cake presents many, many problems the most basic of those is careless delivery people who accidentally drop the box, thusly destroying my handy work. Obviously I have tried this before.

Equipped with all of this knowledge I decided to make petite fours. They are far less delicate, but just as tasty and fun to eat. I used a cake recipe that I found in a book I bought for $2 at a used book store. I love this book [The Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook] and refer back to it frequently for inspiration. This book, which is the same age I am, covers southern baking creations steeped in the history that brought them into fruition. I chose to use the cake portion of a Lane cake, a cake originating out of Alabama that is usually filled with cherries, pecans, coconut and brandy. This filling is not to be outdone by the traditional icing that resembles divinity and is a beautiful fluffy white.

Well, I left out the filling and icing using only the cake because it is made with egg whites which I have found allows it to be a bit more sturdy for the shipping process. Instead of a filling I colored and rolled out a package of marzipan. I am going for sturdy and what is more sturdy than sugar and almonds? I have never made my own marzipan, but I understand that is it relatively simple. Maybe another day. I coated the small cakes with a poured fondant.

I will let you know how they look when she receives them, I only hope they arrive looking as beautiful and delicious as when they left.

Lane Cake

1 Cup Butter, soft

2 Cups Sugar (I use evaporated cane sugar, but the original uses white)

3 ¼ Cups Cake Flour, sifted

2 Tsp Baking Powder

Pinch of Salt

1 Cup Butter Milk (regular will work just fine)

2 Tsp Vanilla

8 Egg Whites

¼ Tsp Cream of Tartar

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Prepare sheet pan with parchment paper on bottom of pan, leave about an inch of paper hanging out the ends to make removing the cake as easy as possible. Spraying the pan and paper with an oil and flour baking spray will make things easier, but is not necessary.

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar, beat whites until stiff peaks form; set aside.

In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla, mix to combine.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder; add flour mixture to the butter mixture stirring only until smooth.

Fold in the egg whites.

Pour batter into pan and smooth out until evenly distributed.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Instead of inverting the cake to remove it from the pan simply tug it out using the parchment paper. Pull it out onto a cooling rack and let rest.

After it cooled I leveled it off and cut it in half; I put the rolled out marzipan in as a filling and cut up the cake into small squares.

Poured fondant icing

2-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup

In a pot add sugar, corn syrup and water. Put in a candy-thermometer so that you can monitor the temperature.

Give the sugar mixture a quick stir and heat it up to the "soft-ball" stage (238°F). The mixture needs to be heated as fast as possible, to prevent the sugar from turning brown, so don’t be afraid to cook on high heat. When it reaches the needed temperature you remove it from the heat.

Carefully pour into the mixing bowl. Let it cool until it reaches 140°F.

Once at 140°F start the mixer and let it beat at a slow/medium speed. Do not leave it unattended. When it turns into a thick dough you are done.

Remove the fondant from the bowl and wrap it in plastic bags. Let it rest.

To coat petite fours:

Place the fondant in a heatproof bowl and heat it gently in the microwave for approx 1 min. It needs to be warm but don’t let it boil. Give it a stir to get it smooth. You can use boiled water, a tsp at a time, to thin it down. If it gets too cold gently reheat.

Dip bottoms of cakes into icing and place on rack to set up. Once set place a sheet pan under the cakes and pour the icing to cover. You may need to do this more than once to get the color and consistency you want. Let set up completely before handling. Placing them in the fridge will speed this process.

If you are decorating with sprinkles or any thing of the sort do this before the icing is set. If you are using royal icing to make flowers or swirls do this after the icing has set.

Since completing this project I have run across another petite fours icing recipe that I like much better:

6 Cups Powdered Sugar

1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Water

1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Food Coloring

Combine all ingredients except the food coloring in a double boiler and cook over medium heat until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and add food coloring.

Yields 4 Cups total.

No comments: