Last Cake, Next Cake
There were some very impressive-looking lemon cakes being made out there last weekend, not to mention hundreds of egg yolks being turned into lemon curd. It seems that almost everyone had some kind of problem with the buttercream. Mine curdled. Sherrie also ended up with a "curdled mess," which she managed to whip bake in shape. Raymond's buttercream didn't curdle, but he had to keep refrigerating it to get it to the right consistency. And Bungalow Barbara's separated into a "grainy mess," but she righted it too.
By the way, I wrote about a dental floss trick that I'd read about, and several readers said they'd never heard of such a thing, except with cheesecake. That made me wonder whether I had imagined it, but I googled the appropriate words and ended up with many, many hits. Not to mention the fact that Raymond explained the dental floss trick himself. What I didn't realize is that you use the dental floss as a kind of cake garrote, placing the floss around the cake and pulling it together as if you're strangling the cake. You also have to have unwaxed, unflavored floss. I'm still going to try it sometime.
The FEATURED BAKER this week is Jenn, of Knitty Baker.
Jenn has been a dedicated Heavenly Cake Baker, and has so far made the Almond Shamah Chiffon, the apple-upside down cake, the Hungarian Jancsi Torta, the pumpkin cake, the baby chocolate oblivions, and now, Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake. (Doesn't that sound so much more impressive than plain old lemon cake?)
I think the only thing that she's missed were the Barcelona brownie bars, and she made up for that by getting Rose's Bread Bible from the library and baking the olive bread and the raisin pecan bread, plus Rose's chocolate cupcakes with chocolate egg-white buttercream in one crazy baking weekend.
Jenn requested this cake in the early days of this baking group, and I was only too happy to oblige because I love anything that's lemon. Although Jenn eventually turned out the cutest lemon cake ever--with lemon peel roses and adorable buttercream decorations, she gives a frustrated account of the full weekend she spent baking (and rebaking) the cake. Unlike some of us, Jenn had no problem with the curd or the buttercream, but the perfect cake seemed to elude her (or so she says. I say it looks good).
Check out her cake--baked in 6-inch pans--and her beautiful lemon roses--and tell her she was not crazy for spending 3 hours composing the cake because it looks gorgeous!
The next cake--the Catalan salt pinch cake--has no buttercream or icing at all, and some of us (at least me) will be relieved. There is no equipment necessary for this cake other than a 9-inch springform pan and plenty of parchment paper.
Looking ahead, the next recipe after the pinch cake is a pumpkin cheesecake. This cake requires a hot water bath, and you can either wrap the cake pan in layers of foil to protect it from the water, or you can put the springform pan into a 9-inch silicone pan. When I baked the ginger cheesecake, my foil wrap turned out not to be completely waterproof, so I went out and bought a round silicone pan just for this purpose. I'm excited to try it out. (Only fellow bakers can understand how "excited" and "silicone pan" can be used in the same sentence). And looking ahead even further, if you're going to bake the fruitcake, you might want to think about ordering the dried fruit. Rose does not like citron, which is included in most mixed fruit peels, and she specifies "high-quality glaceed fruit." The glaceed fruit that's readily available in my supermarkets does not, frankly, look particularly high-quality. And it probably contains large amounts of citron, which is apparently like millet seed in birdseed mixes--nobody likes it, but it's cheap. So if you want to go whole hog (shamelessly mixing metaphors), you might consider buying, as recommended, candied orange and lemon peel from chefshop.com. You want to soak the fruit in rum for at least a week before baking the cake, so start thinking about this if you are planning to do it.
Please someone else do it--I am not a fan of fruitcake, but I'm taking Rose's word on this. I don't want to be the only person slaving over a hot fruitcake that weekend. (The picture does look awfully pretty).