Monday, October 5, 2009

Italian Creme Cake

Last month, Paul and I faced a huge culinary challenge: we held a surprise party for my in-laws to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary and both their 60th birthdays, which fall this year. We hosted nearly 40 family members and friends in our new house, and we catered it ourselves. My shining contribution was my first half-sheet cake- a delicious 3 layer sponge filled with chocolate and vanilla pastry cream, rum syrup, and bathed in whipped cream.

The process of making this cake was a calamity of sorts, but the end result turned out well.
First, I was unsure on how to adjust te quantities in the recipes- did I need 2 or 3 times the recipe? I settled on 2, but when poured into 3 half sheets, it wasn't enough. Scraped one pan out (overworking the delicate sponge batter) to fill the remaining 2, whipped up another batch of the sponge. Doubled the pastry cream to be safe, had WAY too much. Nearly jammed up my kitchen aid motor (and made a HUGE mess) when adding melted marshmallow to the whipped cream to stabilize the frosting; and promptly ran out of whipped cream. Sent Paul out to 4 different stores for heavy cream with no success. Ended up decorating the cake with leftover pastry cream, which saved the day but gave the cake a decidedly '70s vibe- which worked out, since they were married in 1974.

Despite the drama, it ended up tasting a looking delicious, and I was given the ultimate compliment- everyone wanted to know where I bought the cake! I do have to share credit- the recipe is from my wonderful godmother-in-law, MaryAnne!

These quantities are for a 9 inch round cake. For a half sheet, multiple the cake by 3, the pastry cream by 1.5. Remember you can double a cake recipe, but not triple it in the same batch, or the chemistry will be thrown off and the cake may fail. For a half sheet, make one double recipe and one single recipe of the cake to ensure success! (more dishes, but worth it!)

MaryAnne's Sponge Cake

You will need:

8 large eggs, separated

sugar 2/3 cup and 1/3 cup, separated

2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs warm water

1 cup + 2 Tbs sifted all purpose flour.

1/2 cup + 1 Tbs cornstarch.

1 Tsp cream of tartar

3 9' cake pans, buttered with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 325

Sift flour and cornstarch together and set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat yolks and 2/3 c sugar on high for 5 minutes until ribbons form. Lower speed and beat in vanilla and water. Increase speed to high for 30 seconds. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/3 c sugar until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the white to yolk mixture and fold in. Gently fold in remaining whites. Sprinkle flour mixture on top and gently fold in until combined.

Bake 25 minutes, cool on wire rack. When cool, trim crust.

MaryAnne's Pastry Cream

½ Gallon Milk

16 oz sugar, separated into 8 oz and 8 oz

8 egg yolks

4 whole eggs

10 to 11 oz cornstarch

4 oz butter

2 Tbs vanilla

4 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted

In a heavy pot, dissolve 8 oz sugar in the milk and bring just to a boil. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and eggs until combined. Sift remaining 8 oz of sugar and cornstarch into the eggs and whip until perfectly smooth. Temper the eggs- while whisking, slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs in a thin stream. Return the egg and milk mixture to the pot, place on the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When it comes to a boil and thickens, remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla until dissolved. Pour half the cream into a bowl and cover with parchment or buttered waxed paper to avoid a film forming. This is the vanilla pastry cream. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining cream, stir until combined. Place in a bowl and cover accordingly. Chill both for at least 4 hours.

Rum Simple Syrup

In a saucepan over medium- high heat, combine 4 cups sugar and 4 cups water. Let come to a boil, let cool, stir in 1 1/2 cups dark rum. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Use leftovers for cocktails.

Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting:

2 c whipping cream

1/4 to 1/2 c powdered sugar

1 Tbs vanilla

2-3 marshmallows, melted

Combine whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer. Melt marshmallows in the microwave and add to the cream while whipping (you can also use gelatin; this is more fun). However, lower the bowl to add the melted marshmallows, because maybe, just maybe, the marshmallows might cling to the top of the mixer attachment and wind itself around the place where you attach stuff to the mixer. And make a big mess that makes you want to throw it away and buy a new one. Maybe. Frost and pipe as desired.

To assemble: place bottom layer of cake, sprinkle generously with syrup. Spread on chocolate pastry cream. place middle layer, sprinkle with syrup, spread vanilla cream. Final layer, syrup, frost. decorate. eat.


Bob said...

Holy crap, that cake sounds awesome. Welcome back. :)

pinkstripes said...

Gorgeous cake! Glad it all worked out in the end.

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