We had all his family over at our place, and what fun it was! Pat made some slow-cooked ribs and pasta with his trademark roasted red-pepper Oyama sausage sauce. His sister, another foodie in the family, brought over the finest coleslaw I have ever tasted. She was the one who introduced me to Rose Levy Beranbaum's books some years back. The Cake Bible, in particular, is life-altering (if you're a baker) and is pretty much the only cookbook I use for cakes.
On to last night's cake.
Over the last four days, I made four génoise layers which were brushed with syrup, filled with lemon curd and slathered with lemon white chocolate buttercream. The next series of pictures shows the cake at different stages:
The white chocolate lemon buttercream is from Rose Levy Beranbaum's new book, Heavenly Cakes (pages 46 to 47). It starts with a white chocolate custard base made of eggs, butter and white chocolate that is cooked over a bain-marie, a process that is very similar to making lemon curd. For tips and pointers on making this buttercream, see the notes at the end of this post.
I've always been The buttercream is one of the best I've tasted and it spreads and pipes like a dream:
One of my colleagues taught me how to pipe roses over our lunch break. It is surprisingly easy. The key is smooth yet stiff buttercream. Watch the embedded video (or, if you are viewing this post through my facebook profile where the embedded video will not work, click on this link to take you to youtube):
Some hints: the wide end of the piping tip is at the bottom, and it is easier to transfer the rose if you pipe roses on squares of parchment attached to the nail with a dab of buttercream. Here is one of my piped roses:
The family was happy with the cake, despite my mistake of not using enough syrup to moisten the génoise layers, which were consequently on the dry side. The buttercream was a definite highlight, with the rich vanilla flavour of white chocolate pairing very well with the crispness of lemon. We finished off the large bottom layer and I packaged the small tier for Pat's mom to take home.
I will definitely make these again and I will probably use buttercake instead of génoise. Ms Beranbaum has a new recipe in Heavenly Cakes that calls for almonds and sour cream - promising for a Valentine's Day project. In the mean time, I will be diving deep into my new year's resolutions and deeper yet into my studies. See you in February!
Ms Beranbaum specifies the end-point as 140F, but I cooked my custard to 160F to kill Salmonella. To hasten the process, I do not whisk after the eggs are added - this causes temperature to dissipate. Instead, I use a heat-proof silicone spatula to slowly but continuously stir while scraping the bottom of the bowl.
Do not be concerned if after the chocolate and butter have melted there appears to be some mild curdling. By the time the custard is done, the whole mixture is smooth and creamy.
After cooling the custard for 15 minutes, I press a Saran wrap on its surface and refrigerate it for at least a few hours. This works well for me because I like to make up cake components over a series of days.
The custard is beaten into whipped butter. For this, I start with fridge-cold butter, which I first soften with the Kitchen Aid flat beater. When all the butter is clinging to the sides of the bowl, I switch to a whisk beater and begin whipping.
After the custard is added, the mixture may appear curdled. But as with most buttercreams, you only need to whip at a higher speed setting for a bit longer to reconstitute the emulsion.
I piped my roses on parchment squares which were affixed to the flower nail with a dab of buttercream. These were then quickly chilled in the freezer, which made transferring to the cake oh so easy.