Friday, August 17, 2012
lemon, white chocolate & strawberry layer cake.
For a day that was not so suited for baking, this cake turned out pretty well.
When I say "not so suited", I mean it in the cursed sense. Why? Firstly, my white chocolate whipped cream went haywire. All was well up until I obtained soft peaks in my cream and added in my melted white chocolate and cream mixture. The next step was to beat both the softly whipped cream and white chocolate mixture until stiff peaks, and a problem arose. I didn't achieve a stiff consistency before the cream started curdling and breaking down on me! It was all SMBC deja vu. I considered trashing the current batch and starting a new one, but it dawned on me that I didn't have enough cream left.
If I had a punching bag, I would have ripped it apart.
So I switched to a hand whisk and whisked for my life, praying that the curdled mixture would act like a SMBC and come together eventually. Thank goodness that it did! In the end, it looked like I'd just stirred together unwhipped cream and white chocolate together. I was afraid that whipping up the cream would cause it to separate again, so I settled for this denser version of my intended white chocolate whipped cream.
The second curse upon this poor cake was it being sliced unevenly. (Although it was completely my fault.) I didn't keep a firm grip on my serrated knife and one of the layers ended up thicker on one half and paper thin on the other half, with a small part of the circle uncompleted. As this calamity befell right after the whipped cream incident, I was feeling frazzled enough to discard this whole cake, not to mention that I made both components late at night. But I got a grip on myself and assembled the cake. It looked horrible naked with no frosting to cover up the huge blemish.
So I quickly frosted the cake.
The thing you must know about this lemon cream is that it is traditionally meant as a filling for cake, crepes, etc because of its soft consistency even when refrigerated. Hence, using it as a frosting is tricky, but not impossible. You will have to shuttle the cake and frosting in between the fridge and turntable a few times before you can get a decent coat of frosting, but it will be all worthwhile. I loved how silky and pleasantly tart the cream was, but I would actually prefer it with less butter. Because the lemon cream is so packed full of refreshing flavour, a modest coating would do. And it doesn't take a genius to realize how wonderful a pairing lemon makes with white chocolate and strawberries.
The mishap with the white chocolate whipped cream only made me love it more when I tasted it. Although it is not as light as the recipe intended, it turned out fine. Delish, in fact. It's like a less sweet, softer and looser version of white chocolate ganache. However, if I'd known beforehand how unstable it is at room temperature, I wouldn't have chosen it for a filling. Sometime after sitting outside, the layers started to slide and the cake started to wobble precariously.
And not forgetting the cake itself- it was great. Perfect sugar level for me (after reducing the amount a bit) and fine crumb. It's a white cake recipe that I've not tried out before, and I would love to compare how it fares in comparison with Dorie's and Rose Levy Beranbaum's but I can't say for sure which one is better. It has been too long since I made the other two versions. Oh well. Which is your favourite white cake recipe?
Lemon, White Chocolate & Strawberry Layer Cake
makes a 5 inch cake
white cake recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen, white chocolate filling recipe adapted from The Cake Bible, lemon cream recipe from Pierre Herme
It is best to prepare the lemon cream in advance. I made the white chocolate filling at the last minute but you can also make it ahead.
For the white cake:
3/4 cup cake flour
1/3 cup milk
2 egg whites
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 4 tsp sugar (I reduced this to 90g)
1 1/3 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 300F. Line a 5 inch round baking pan with parchment.
Whisk together milk, egg whites and extracts.
Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed. Add butter and continue beating on low speed until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.
Add all but about 3 tbsp of milk mixture to the crumbs and beat on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides and mix on medium speed for another 20 seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean, with moist crumbs attached.
For the white chocolate filling:
42g white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
Melt the white chocolate and 2 tbsp of heavy cream together. Set aside to cool completely.
Whip the remaining heavy cream until the beater forms streaks in the cream. Pour in the melted white chocolate mixture and beat until stiff peaks.
For the lemon cream:
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 and a half lemons, finely chopped
2 large eggs
3/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced and softened
Place the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl and rub the two together until the sugar is moist, grainy and aromatic. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.
Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a whisk constantly until the cream thickens and reaches 180F.
Immediately remove from heat and strain into a blender or food processor. Let the cream cool to 140F, stirring occasionally.
Beat the cream on high speed in the blender of food processor while adding the pieces of butter about 5 at a time. When all the butter has been incorporated, beat the cream for another 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.
white cake, cooled
white chocolate filling
lemon cream (you probably won't use all of it)
strawberries, halved or quartered
Slice the cake into 3 layers. Take one layer and spread half the white chocolate filling on it. Arrange the chopped strawberries on top, making sure that they are as close to the surface as possible. Top with the second layer of cake and spread the remaining white chocolate filling on top. Again, arrange the strawberries on top of the white chocolate filling. Finish with the last layer of cake and refrigerate it until the white chocolate filling is firm, about 2 hours. Frost with the lemon cream.