I love the reaction I get from others when I make cake. The oohs and the aahs bring a really nice sense of satisfaction and make me really happy- even when I know the cake doesn't look that great. And although I love baking, it is really this reaction which makes even the boring and frustrating bits of baking all worthwhile.
This cake was for my english teacher, perhaps my favourite teacher- so from the beginning, it was completely worth the 4 or so hours I spent in the kitchen slowly trawling through the recipe, making sure I didn't skip a single ingredient, and the decorating after that. And it definitely was- I loved her reaction when she saw the cake- I don't really think anyone has been quite as happy and touched by my cakes before!
It certainly makes it worth the tired arms I get from whipping the batter for 10 minutes- it can get painful sometimes. It makes it worth the frustration of having to wait hours for the cake to be done and the frustration when you have a billion bowls to clean- and you don't even know how you managed to use that many =S
The reaction of my class also made it very worthwhile. Not only the oohs and aahs, especially of the butterflies, the easiest part of it (I stole the idea off Adriana- thanks!) but also the way they kept reaching for seconds. Like those who wolfed down piece after piece after piece *ahem* Andrew *ahem* ;) But I love all of this.
It really makes it worth the frustration of the egg whites not whipping up into stiff meringue- because you couldn't be bothered to clean your bowl cleanly after you used it to make the cake batter. And the consequential 10 minutes of beating in hope that it will. And then the additional 10 minutes of beating in the butter in hope that it will turn into a beautiful, smooth buttercream. It makes it worth the frustration when you realise that you don't have enough buttercream to ice the whole cake. And when the crumbs all mix with the icing to make a lumpy one- so the icing looks like a splat of...something.
But you don't notice all these imperfections when you are bathed in compliments, when you are constantly told how good the cake is. You only stop to think about whether you cake was actually that great a couple of hours later, when you think back and when you look at the picture you snapped hurriedly in the morning before rushing off to school. I guess it's all part of the experience.
Thinking back this time however, it kinda made me sad. Sad that I'll probably never have the chance to make a cake for these people again- school finishes in a few days and I'll probably never see them like this again. But I'll leave the sentimental stuff for another post, and meanwhile, spend the rest of the week treasuring out last moments of high school =)
from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Makes one double layered 20 or 23cm cake
3/4 cup butter
2.5 cups plain flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutesas. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, aabout 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined, scraping sides of bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes more. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 min in total). Beat in vanilla. Alternatively add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined. Pour batter into a 20cm or 23cm round cake pan.
3. Bake in a preheated 180 degree (celcius) oven for about 12 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool cupcakes and decorate with buttercream.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Recipe from Joepastry
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pound soft unsalted butter
1. Begin by combining the whites, sugar and cream of tartar the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Whisk to combine them, and keep it up intermittently while the mixture warms. In about 5-7 minutes' time, your mixture should have reached 160 degrees Farhenheit (don't worry, your whites won't cook, the sugar will keep all those little proteins from clenching up). At this temperature, Salmonella bacteria are killed
2. Pour the contents of the double boiler into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip.Turn the mixer on high. In a few minutes the mixture will turn white and start to build up into a foam. Whip for about 6-8 minutes, until the meringue forms stiff peaks
3. Switch to the paddle (beater) attachment and turn the mixer to medium high. Beat in the butter a piece at a time. Whip until the mixture becomes smoother and thick.