Two blog posts from me in the same month?! Unheard of! But I recently made a birthday cake for a friend, and was pretty pleased with how it came out! I wanted to try my hand at an ombre cake, inside and out. But don't let the pink fool you about the flavor! It's a lemon cake with cream and homemade lemon curd filling and vanilla Italian meringue buttercream! I started with my go-to white cake and just added fresh lemon juice for the flavor. The cake ended up being quite dense because, silly me, I forgot to reduce the amount of milk in the recipe because of the half cup of fresh lemon juice I added. I don't like to use lemon extract because it doesn't taste quite right to me. However, the shades of pink came out quite nicely! After that came the filling and stacking the layers. I didn't cut the bottom layer quite even, and as I stacked them they slide to one side quite a bit! I crumb coated it and put large skewers in the cake to keep it from sliding while it chilled. The next bit was a bit difficult because as much as prefer Italian meringue, it's stiff texture didn't lend itself to blending the colors very easily. I wanted a little more decoration, so I added some chunky sugar crystals, edible pearls and non pareils to give it some sparkle! I used tweezers to place the pearls. Added some cupcake toppers to the top and voila! Despite some technical difficulties, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out! Stay tuned for my next project; a taco cake!
Ok ok....I fully admit I've been completely awful at keeping up with blog posts. And it's not because I haven't been baking! The year kicked off crazy busy and when I finally took a breath, it was already April! So it seemed like the perfect time to slow down for a cup of tea....High Tea in fact! Thanks to my Aunt Debbie who took me to my first high tea in London, it has become one of my favorite things to do! Finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, mini desserts and endless amounts of tea! I've talked about putting one together for ages, and I finally got my butt in gear!
I stayed pretty traditional with my finger sandwiches; smoked salmon and Boursin goat cheese, cucumber and chive cream cheese, egg salad, and a ham and provolone. I also stuck with some plain scones, Mary Berry's recipe in fact! However, I completely forgot that her recipe uses self raising flour (which I didn't have) so mine looked a bit like fat pancakes. I served them with homemade lemon curd and clotted cream (from Dekalb Farmers Market). For my desserts, I just had to use some springtime flavors! The first dessert was a mini lemon lavender tart! I will confess, I didn't make the tart pastry. I tried two different shortcuts; cutting out circles of pre-made pie crust and pressing it into my tart pan, and bought pre-baked tart shells. While I preferred the thinness and taste of the pie crust, they of course didn't look as neat as the bought shells (the ones in the picture). I used an easy lemon filling recipe I got from a cooking class as Sur la Table, and it was perfectly lemony and not too sweet!
The cupcakes were rose with pistachio mousse filling and rose Italian Meringue Buttercream! I have made these before and I just love the flavor combo! I use a basic fluffy white cake recipe and use rose extract instead of vanilla. I always forget to write down which pistachio mousse recipe I use, but the most important part is using real pistachio's and not pudding mix. It comes out fluffy and creamy with lovely nutty flavor to round out the rose! For the frosting, I always use an Italian meringue buttercream because it's less sickly sweet, and also holds shape really well. With all the floral flavors, I thought it was only appropriate to decorate my potted cupcakes with flowers! It also gave me an excuse to use Russian piping tips, which I definitely need more practice with. And because that wasn't complicated enough, I thought I'd also try using my tri-color adapter for the first time. Needless to say, the kitchen counter was a frosting Picasso! But overall, I think they turned out alright!
Last but not least, I had to try my hand at macarons. And since it's high tea, why not add tea to those too! I made matcha macaron shells w/ blackberry buttercream. The shells were a little tricky because I had trouble getting them to dry out enough for form a skin. I had the throw the first batch away because they were still too wet after baking, something my flabbergasted my French roommate! Initially the filling was supposed to be raspberry, but there were no raspberries when I went to the store. Anyway, why follow the recipe when experimenting is much more fun!
All in all, I think everything turned out pretty well! It was fun to try my hand at some new things, and make a mess along the way. It was even better to just sit down and have a cup of tea with a few friends!