I didn't tell you guys at the time, but I decorated my first wedding cake this summer. No, not the cake for my own first wedding--that has yet to occur. My friend, being suitably impressed with my mad skills (she says halfway facetiously), asked if I'd be willing to take on the challenge for her big day. I was indeed willing, for she's a great friend (and not at all prone to bridezilla behavior).
To make a long story short, I have a new appreciation for wedding cake decorators. This particular creation was three tiers of lemon cake with lemon-flavored swiss meringue buttercream, and it was quite an undertaking. There was a lot of recipe testing and tasting, for both the cake and the frosting. (That part was not a struggle.) I also learned all about proper support and transportation and symmetry, which I'm sure will be useful for future endeavors. I had big plans for the designs on the side of each cake, but when the day came around, time and amount of experience were not on my side. The end result was still lovely and the bride was pleased, but I was exhausted, a little disappointed, and a lot more admiring of you professionals out there.
|My friend wanted deep purple calla lilies to accent her cake--aren't they a gorgeous color!?!|
Another lesson learned: Adding lemon zest to the frosting makes it IMPOSSIBLE to get a perfectly smooth application.
Speaking of wedding cakes, I'll bet most of you are familiar with the classic Italian cream wedding cake. It's chock-full of pecans and coconut, and it requires the separation of eggs and some white whippage to produce a lighter, more tender crumb. It's delicious and full of great textures (and coated with cream cheese frosting), but because of this, I don't think it's a cake of which you'd want multiple tiers. That's just asking for a cake collapse.
Eye-talian Cream Wedding Cake
(based on this classic)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups butter, softened
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease up three 9-inch round cake pans.
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Into another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture in two batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in vanilla, coconut, and chopped pecans.
Beat egg whites in another bowl until they just hold stiff peaks and fold into batter gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops, and bake in upper two thirds of oven, switching position of pans in oven halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes and invert onto racks to cool completely.
Fill and frost lavishly with cream cheese frosting. Decorate as desired.