29 April 2011

God Save the Cake!

You may not know it yet, but I lovelovelove weddings!  I have to admit that my own wedding was probably the best one ever, but any and all weddings are pretty darn awesome.  Today, there happens to be a wedding taking place that's kind of a big deal.  Unfortunately, it's not that big of a deal on this side of the pond.   We don't get an extra day off of work and we have to wake up extra early if we want to even watch it.  But that's no excuse to be sour!  Love is in the air and I plan on adding the smell of fresh baked goodness to it.  Put on your tiaras and sip a spot of tea, it's wedding cake time!

The idea was put into my head by a couple of bonnie lasses at school who are eagerly awaiting the (very) early morning nuptials.  I wanted to share in their excitement so, I decided to bake a traditional tea time cake popularized by one of my favorite monarchs - the utterly romantic and fabulous Queen Victoria.  As a twist on the recipes I kept coming across, I wanteto add a bit of lemon to the traditional Queen Victoria cake because I always fancy a bit of tart with my sweet.  What better way, and appropriately English, than to use lemon curd!  I also wanted to make a Devonshire cream instead of whipped cream and found a simple recipe using Mascarpone.  I was lucky to find some on sale andidn't need to hock any royal jewels or blow my weekly food budget.  All the recipes for a Queen Victoria cake are pretty much the same and it's quite a simple cake to prepare.  To make it look lovely and worthy of Her Majesty?  That's an entirely different story.  Without further ado, here's the recipe and my valiant effort to be among the best of the Brits on this jolly day!

four berries & lemon
a cake fit for a princess (I haven't come up with a proper name for this cake and am open to suggestions!)
3⁄4 lb (plus 1 tbsp for greasing the pans) fancy, European-style high-fat butter, salted & softened
3 c (plus 1 tbsp for dusting the pans) self-rising cake flour

1 1⁄2 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp lemon curd
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
4 eggs
really good jam or preserves (I like mixed berry)
1. Preheat the oven to 360. Grease two 9" round cake pans with a good amount of butter and dust with flour.  Set aside until the batter is ready.
2. Beat butter in your mixer on a high speed for about 5 minutes.  Add the sugar, lemon curd & lemon zest and beat until it becomes light and fluffy. 

3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and 6 tbsp warm water.  Add half the egg mixture and half the flour to butter & sugar mixture.  Beat well for about 2 minutes before adding remaining egg mixture and flour.  Mix the batter for about 5 minutes.
4. Divide the batter between your two prepared pans.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Invert the cakes onto a rack, remove pans, and let cool completely.  If desired, when cooled, cut the brown edges off of the cake.
5. Put one cake layer on a cake plate, spread the top with half the jam, then cover the jam with half the cream. Spread jam on top of the other cake layer and very carefully flip it, jam side down, on top of the cream.  Spread the rest of the cream on top of the two layers and decorate with blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

devonshire cream
1 c heavy whipping cream
4 oz mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1. Using a hand mixer, blend all ingredients together until they thicken with stuff peaks.  Chill until ready to use.

As if it were fairy tale magic, I transformed this drab looking cake...

beautiful peonies from my hubby!
into this beautiful confection!  Yum doesn't even begin to describe this.  It's probably the prettiest cake I've ever made.  The berries on top are supposed to be a Union Jack, in case you couldn't tell.

can you see what I was going for?
Thanks to my awesome coworker Alex for bringing me the souvenir tea tin!  Can you believe he didn't stick around jolly London-town for the big event?! Crazy.

Now if only I had this adorable plate from the gals at The House That Lars Built.  Wouldn't that be extra sweet and special?  Instead, my cake sits atop the absolutely perfect plate that we used on our wedding day.  

Even though I wasn't invited, I hope the lovebirds somehow sense my well-wishes and have a wonderful wedding day and a very happy happily ever after!  Congrats from this Yankee gal and always remember the immortal words of the four wise men... all you need is love.

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