Saturday, June 06, 2009

May's Graduation Cake

Graduation #2 and counting. My friend, May, just graduated with a Bachelor's in Human Development. She is now on her way to becoming an elementary school teacher.
I have known May since high school and we've come a long way since then. She is one of the kindest and most caring people I know. She is also excellent at crafts; her detail and creativity is impeccable and flawless. We have seen each other go through so much and we have grown into our own together. I know that she will be an excellent teacher and I can't wait to see her do great things.
May was having a dinner party after her graduation and I decided to bake her a mini cake. It was about time I tried a new cake recipe and this was the perfect opportunity. This was also the first time I attempted to work with fondant. Because she's going to be a teacher, I figured I would decorate the cake accordingly. Well, Duff won't be hiring me any time soon, but I don't think my attempt was a complete failure either.
The day of the graduation was definitely hectic. I woke up early in the morning to bake the cake, make the filling and the frosting. As I was walking out the door to attend the ceremony, I was still assembling the cake itself. Once the ceremony was over, I still had a little bit of time before the dinner party. After pictures and taking my sister to a friend's house, I ran back home to begin making items out of the fondant and finish the assembly.
Hectic? Yes. But, completely worth it. I loved the cake's flavor, along with its lemon curd filling. Fondant was also fun to play with. I always loved playing with play-doh as a little girl and this was not only like play-doh, it was edible!

I found this recipe from Art of Dessert, a blog that I have been following for the past couple of months.

Vanilla Butter cake adapted from Art of Dessert

I used a lasagna pan for this cake, which I had to adjust the time for. I began checking the cake at 25 minutes and then kept checking every five minutes until it was done.

If you're making cupcakes, I would fill the cups 2/3 full and then baking for 15 -20 minutes.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch pans.

3. Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs one at a time then pour in vanilla extract.

4. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk.

6. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

7. Cool completely in the pan before inverting the cake onto a cooling rack.

Lemon Curd adapted from Art of Dessert

1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin with 3 tbsp. water
3/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the water. Set aside.

2. Mix together lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken.

3. Remove from heat then add the unflavored gelatin. Mix until gelatin is dissolved completely.

4. Refrigerate for a few hours before using.

Hybrid buttercream frosting
adapted from Art of Dessert

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup cold whipping cream
red and black food coloring (gel or paste works best)

1. Beat the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract at low speed until combined.

2. Slowly add the warm milk. It will separate at first, but don't worry - give it a few minutes and it will start coming back together. Increase the speed a little to whip it up a bit.

3. Slowly pour in the cold whipping cream. Whip for a few more minutes and it should start to look smooth. It may curdle or separate again when you pour in the whipping cream, but give it some time and it will smooth out again.

For cake assembly

1. Have all the layers ready before beginning assembly.

2. Fill each layer except for one layer with the lemon curd.

3. Stack the layers on top of each other, with the unfilled layer being the top layer.

4. Apply a thin crumb coating (to set all the crumbs into the cake) by mixing a little bit of water with a portion of the frosting.

5. Frost the entire cake with the left over, undiluted frosting.

6. You could decorate the cake to your taste by leaving it the way it is, tinting some frosting, or taking a stab at fondant.


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