October Smells Like Cake

Cakes have been a major component of my life for the past few weeks.

I found myself with some time on my hands this month
and it coincided nicely with receiving Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s new book
Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

Although I’m not a big cake eater
(I’ll take pie over cake
and ice cream over them both)
I love to bake them.

Given my tepid feelings towards cake consumption
I consistently have a problem with what to do with cakes once I make them.

The thought of having too much cake on hand
and then it going to waste
is what normally stops me from baking
but I put that concern aside for a little bit earlier this month.

Inspired by the new book
I took an evening to lounge around in bed and page through my new treasure.
The dogs kept me company as I looked through it
passing by the chocolate chocolate chocolate cakes
and then suddently staring at a photo of a beautiful four layer cake
called Woody’s Lemon Luxury Layer Cake.

While I like milk/dark chocolate
I never really crave it.
I do crave lemony things, however.

That yellow cirtus has my heart for sure.
Have you ever seen a piece of fruit look so happy?
You can cook/bake/clean with it!

I go through a lot of lemons and need to plant a lemon tree already.

Now that you know my feelings on lemons
you could understand why I would be drawn to a recipe calling for zest in the sponge, curd to fill, and curd in the white chocolate frosting.

Sponge set up

Zest bomb

Out of the oven

Pulling away from the pans
as it should
after a few minutes

I left it to cool and started on the curd.

I would have photos of the curd in progress
but the first batch turned out poorly
and it was because I followed directions.

PSA: Don’t make anything that is lemon-based in a stainless steel/metal container.
Just don’t.

I don’t care what the recipe says.
Use a glass bowl and wooden utensils and I promise you
your lemon whatever won’t taste like it passed through water fountain pipes.

Cause that’s what happens in a stainless steel pot.

but we don’t need to talk about it.

(Don’t forget to add the eggs when making your curd.
You can’t just add them in at the end.
Yeah. I did you a favor and learned for you.)

So I made another batch and then set everything aside to cool overnight.

The next day I made the buttercream.

It had a fair amount of white chocolate


Back to the stove with some butter, eggs
and vanilla

The frosting base had to cool too
(notice the name of the cake did not say “Woody’s Quick Lemon Luxury Layer Cake)
but after cooling I whipped in some butter

then the some of the lemon curd

and ended with a whole boatload of amazing buttercream.

I put that aside and went back to working on the cake layers.

Cooled and torted

Simple syrup to keep them moist
(helpful since they were already a day old)

Curd in between

I sigh a happy sigh.
It looks like sunshine.
Who wouldn’t want to eat sunshine
…that tastes like lemons (and not of fire)?

Whoever doesn’t want to
well, I’ll have their piece of sunshine then.

Buttercream on top and in between the sandwiched layers

Crumb coat

I know some bakers don’t do a crumb coat
but I swear by them.

True to its name
this is the coat that captures all the crumbs in your frosting
that way they don’t end up marring the surface of your pretty cake.

After I applied the crumb coat
I put the cake in the refrigerator to set up a little bit
so as to make the final frosting layer nice and smooth.

That was the goal at least.

Perfectly smooth buttercream frosting on a cake is one of the hardest thing for me to do.
Possibly harder than Pie Crust.
If I ever met Crust and Buttercream in a dark alley at night
I would run away
screaming in terror.

Buttercream won the battle this time.

It also seems I was so enraged at losing the Battle of Smooth
that I could not take a decent picture of the finished product.

It was a night of failures
because I also added some yellow food coloring to the icing
and it turned splotchy from lazy mixing.

Thats what you get.
Bad lighting
subject cut off
and the equivalent of cow spots on the cake.

You’re just going to have to like it
or not like it.
Whatever you want.

It wasn’t winning any beauty pageants
but hot damn it was good.

If you’ve ever wondered
what it’s like to try to get a nice slice of cake for a photograph
it looks a little like this

I quit after three slices.

The insides

You can see the buttercream filling is a little bit cracked.

After I finished frosting the cake I put it in the refrigerator to set up again.
When I took it out
I didn’t wait until it had warmed up all the way through to slice it
so it cracked a little.

My problem with having too much cake was taken care of when I tweeted that I had a lot of cake and no one to eat it.

Summons were issued
and the cake went a’traveling to a little ol’ Houston bar.

I still came home with a few slices
but it was better than having the behemoth sit in my fridge for a week or two.

This cake was not the only cake to come into my life this month.

I made an angel food cake too.

Good ol’ Woody liked a lot of egg yolks in his cake
so I had about fifteen whites in a big bowl in my fridge.

You can see theres a few spots where the flour didn’t incorporate well.
It was still pretty fluffy and light
and since it was my first angel food cake
I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

I didn’t do all the cake making this month.

Dorothy Young put on a Cheesecake making class.

The master showing us how it is done

Some students listening and reading their notes

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

Dorothy Young’s tasty pumpkin cheesecake with candied pecans

This guy was also there
making coffee

and of course
for those who couldn’t attend the class
there were plenty of people live-tweeting it

This isnt even a full round up of all the cakes I’ve seen this month.
October is also not over
and of course
I have a few more cakes planned.

I will practice again with a cake with a buttercream frosting
trying to attain perfect smoothness with a non-crusting frosting
and probably get frustrated with it
then stalk off to do something where I am not involved with preparation
like eat tacos.

Thankfully that respite won’t be too far out of reach this weekend.
I have giant plans involving taco trucks this Sunday.

To maximize the taco-rest opportunity
I should start the cake on Saturday
go to bed pissed off at the cake that night
wake up to eat tacos
then come back blissed out and issue a beat down on the buttercream.

you better watch your back buttercream.
When I’m done with you
you won’t even dare to wrinkle.

I’ll get your friend, Crust, in November.
In the kitchen
with a pumpkin.



Filed under Cooking at Home

5 responses to “October Smells Like Cake

  1. Jay

    What a great writeup! Buttercream beatdown! I don’t think I will attempt the whole recipe, but I will definitely make some buttercream all for myself. Buttercream.

  2. Beautiful post…Love that you’re tackling these. I would love that recipe BTW!!! 🙂

    You did a WONDERFUL job despite the curd and frosting incident!!!

    It’s wonderful!!!

  3. Dorothy

    Rose would be proud! And I didn’t know she had a new book. I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wish list!

  4. Fulmer

    Not the biggest fan of Rose’s books (bibles), but after seeing the process via your blog post & having eaten the result (at that little Houston bar), I am in for an effort. Thanks for doing the leg work. I hope to return the favor. 3 layer mousse pis on the way

  5. This would be the post I come across when my sweet tooth is at its worst. THANKS, RACHEL.

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