Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Cake, Strawberry Filling, and Vanilla Bean Ice Creammmmmmmm

White cake recipe number three. I've been testing white cake recipes in hopes to find the most moist white cake ever baked in the history of cake baking.  I'm afraid this is an impossible task.  Recipe number two was very, very moist but I just feel the need to try more recipes. I'm starting to feel like one of those people who never finishes what they started because it's just not good enough.  I have plenty of sewing projects that fill that description.  I won't even mention the yards of fabric purchased that I've glanced at now and again. 
White cake tends to be on the dry side because the majority of egg added to the recipe is in the form of egg whites where as the yolk would add more tenderness/moisture. Also, not to mention color (yellow - if you couldn't figure it out.). Most white cake recipes seem to use cake flour, and other oils/fats are used in place of the majority of butter ( I'd rather have yellow cake, thank you.)
Anyways.....I don't usually share my cake recipes because I'd like to be the one that makes them for you :-). But in this case it's just not ready yet......

Red heart cake topper

This cake is frosted in Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I will tell you that I have never knowingly eaten Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  I'm sure I have had it before since I am a professional cake eater, but it definitely did not have a name.  Same goes for Italian Meringue or French Meringue or a meringue of any other ethnicity.  I certainly am not prejudice, especially in the name of sugar. All I know is that all these meringues must be delicious because I have never met a frosting I didn't like.
So in case you don't know her and you'd like to meet her, here she is.  Friends meet SMB, SMB meet my friends. She is not as sweet as American Buttercream whom we all know and love, but don't let that fool you.  She is created on your stove top; egg whites and granulated sugar heated to a safe 160 degrees.  The mixture is then whisked by your electric mixer until room temperature.  This takes a whole 10 minutes or so. At this point the mixture is a meringue. Or so it should be but I didn't take a picture so...good luck.
Then cool (not cold) butter is added in chunks. I took this picture below and realized that if you were even contemplating a diet of some sort I'd lose you right here.  Not that cake would be in your diet anyways but this definitely looks like an army of butter. I assure you that your best friend, American Butter cream is every bit of buttery as my best friend, SMB so get off your high horse right now.

After an extremely unattractive curdly stage, your SMB becomes a smooth, creamy, dreamy frosting.

It spreads just as nicely as American buttercream. I'd say even better.  If I heat my spatula it will sort of melt the butter into a very smooth finish.  SMB can be a little tricky, but if it doesn't look quite right - don't throw it out, most likely you'll find a fix if you search online or ask me and I'll try to help.
Weird SMB icing consistencies tend to be related to temperature.

I made a couple accompanying flavors to compliment the cake.
Homemade strawberry filling and a vanilla bean ice cream. Strawberry filling is SO easy and quick to make - there is no excuse for buying a can, especially because in my opinion, fresh tastes better.

Strawberry Filling

  1. Dissolve 2 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water.
  2. In a small saucepan add 2 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped hulled strawberries (frozen works too), 1/2 cup sugar, and cornstarch/water mixture.
  3. Bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly while crushing berries with potato masher. 
  4. Boil a few minutes to thicken and then pour into a bowl to cool completely.

Now this is where I realize that I have many wasted many months between last Mother's Day and today.  Johnny spoiled me last year with the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen aid mixer.  I made chocolate peanut butter ice cream and then somehow forgot about this appliance stored in my basement freezer.  I don't even know how that's possible, that chocolate peanut butter ice cream was every bit as good as this vanilla bean ice cream.  
You really just don't know how good vanilla is, unless you've scraped it from a bean.  I mean this from the bottom of my heart. There can be a lot of explanatory words used in food blogs that make you roll your eyes and think - get on with the recipe already!  But the vanilla bean deserves a moment of silence and reverence.

scraped vanilla bean
I used the Pioneer Women's recipe. I don't feel the need to test any more vanilla bean ice cream recipes.

Half and half is heated with the vanilla and sugar.  I must mention that during this step I scooped a spoonful or two for my coffee.  I looked at my coffee and then at the pan, back and forth a couple times, and thought.....well, this is convenient.
Egg yolks are whipped, then tempered into the vanilla mixture. Heat until custard-like. Yum.

This mixture is then combined with heavy cream. Place in refrigerator to cool, then cycle through ice cream maker, freeze, and wait and wait and wait.

Aren't they just the cutest little vanilla bean flecks you've ever seen?

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