Update: click here to see The Cake!
This past Sunday, I had Juliet and Ryan over for a cake tasting. For the last (my first) wedding cake, we did no such thing, because Heather knew she wanted the carrot cake I had already made. But this time around, we were working from just the idea that I could possibly bake something good enough for a wedding.
I spent the three weeks leading up to the tasting digging through blogs, forums, the Cake Bible, and the knowledge of those around me to determine the best options for a white cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese icing.
I ended up trying two white cake recipes: Martha's White Wedding Cake recipe and the King Arthur Flour Tender White Cake recipe. I was excited to learn that I had an alternative to (bleached - yuck) Swan's cake flour - King Arthur makes an unbleached cake flour. There is not a whole lot of variety in white wedding cake recipes, it's mostly technique. Martha asked me to beat the liquid and dry ingredients into the butter and sugar in a pattern, then fold in egg whites beat to stiff peaks. This resulted in a moist, dense cake. The King Arthur recipe, as well as the Cake Bible recipe, is simpler. You mix the dry ingredients, add butter, add egg whites then add milk and vanilla. This cake was drier, and more "cake-like," as the bride-to-be described it.
As far as icing goes, I tested out a plain cream cheese, flavored with just vanilla, a maple cream cheese, flavored with maple syrup rather than vanilla, and a cream cheese flavored with lemon zest and vanilla. For the strawberry filling, I attempted a simple, uncooked puree as well as one cooked with corn starch that was a bit thicker. We made mini cakes, putting the puree in the middle and the icing on top in various combinations to see what would work best together. We ended up with the following.
King Arthur Tender White Cake
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line pans with parchment; butter parchment.
Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend.
Add butter, mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. Increase the speed of the mixer and continue to mix until the crumbs begin to cling together.
Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
Whisk milk, vanilla and almond together. Add to batter 1/3 at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition.
Pour the batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes for 8 or 9 inch rounds. A cake tester will come out clean when done.
Cool completely on rack.
Strawberry Puree adapted from various recipes
1- 20 ounce bag frozen strawberries (frozen strawberries are caught at their peak flavor)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
1/4 cup sugar
Defrost strawberries in strainer over a bowl to catch the juice as they defrost. This will take several hours.
Completely puree strawberries in a food processor.
Whisk together cornstarch, strawberry juice and lemon juice in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.
Whisk in pureed strawberries. Bring to a boil, whisking.
Whisk in lemon zest and sugar. Cook for about three minutes.
Cool completely before use.
Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from several sources
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
With electric mixer on medium speed, beat together cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, incorporating well and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add vanilla. Beat until well combined and fluffy.
Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before icing.
So, using these recipes, I'll be creating a three layer (16, 12 and 8 inches) cake with three different colors of icing and lots of love and delight (I hope). The wedding is in June. Next up: Gathering of materials. Even bake strips, pans, boards, boxes, dowels, oh my!