Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cherry Blossom Birthday Cake



Spring has just arrived and the weather here in San Jose, California has been gorgeous lately. Flowers are blooming, plenty of sunshine, crisp air, it's like having a natural air conditioner. I know that the cherry blossom season had just passed a few weeks ago. I was planning to make a cake with a cherry blossom theme everytime I saw the tree in the street (which is a lot), but business got the best of me. And besides, it was mostly raining when the blossoms were at their peak :(. There's something about this flower that makes me wanting to take pictures everytime I see them. Imagine how many pictures I'd have if I did that.

So, the idea of making cherry blossom theme cake was kind of fade away along with the end of the cherry blossom season until about a week ago. It was one of my beloved brothers' birthday and also one of my dearest friends' birthday last weekend. It was actually on Monday, but we went out to dinner to celebrate two of our best friends. And of course I'd be more than happy to make the cake for them.

I'm a planner, I have to plan everything way before I have to actually do something with it. I always plan what to cook on Monday, Tuesday, and so forth the week before. I always plan wah beforehand what kind of cake I want to make, how will I decorate it, when should I start, what should be done first, etc. The reason is first, because I like everything well-planned and organized, second, because I don't have the time to make something in an instant, especially when it comes to a cake. There are so many steps involved that I just need to break them down and do them separately according to my time. Some inspiration usually comes to mind about what I really feel like making, what flavor combination I'd like to try and so forth, but not this time. I was still blank even the day before the birthday dinner (which is very unusual). But I bought some cream anyway. I will definitely need it for mousse cakes, bavarian cream cakes.



I kinda had something in mind at that time, but then I remembered that we're going to bring the cake to the restaurant, which means, no refrigeration for 1-2 hours. I switched gear immediately and decided to make something that can stand in room temperature without getting soft and becoming a gooey mess. So I went with vanilla and raspberry cake covered in fondant. And what could be more perfect time to put the cherry blossom idea into it! It consists of soft vanilla sponge, raspberry soaking syrup, raspberry buttercream, and raspberry gelee. I've been wanting to try Hidemi's Sugino raspberry buttercream recipe from his book that I got for myself two months ago. The problem is, it's all in Japanese. The ingredient part has French translation, which I can understand a little, but the direction is 100% in japanese. Luckily, it has some step-by-step pictures, so I can try to guess. I added gelee just so that I has some texture contrast. I figured the gelee won't melt or soften that much without refrigeration.

The buttercream recipe is based on creme anglaise. The creme anglaise is mixed with creamed butter, then added some raspberry puree, and lastly, fold in the italian meringue. It's a very lengthy process, but I was determined to make it. In the end, the buttercream was not as stiff as I expected, it's rather "soup-y". Definitely not good firm enough to be spread on the side of the cake and especially after I cover it with fondant later on. I refrigerate it for a while, and added another stick and a half of butter to it. It doesn't help much, but the refrigeration does. The amount of liquid added to the butter was a lot (the creme anglaise and the raspberry puree), so I should have guessed about the texture. Despite the texture of the buttercream, it tasted delicious!



It was a challenge covering the cake with fondant. The cream soften so quickly outside the fridge so I had to go back and forth to keep it firm enough to hold the fondant. So, here it goes. I'm not too happy about the result though. The cake could have been taller, the branches could have been smaller, I don't know, there were so many "could have" or "if only I do this". I'll just hope for the best that the cake will taste good :).

Apparently, we can ask the restaurant to keep the cake in their fridge! Bummer, I could have gone with some other cake selection (here we go with another "could have"), but it's too late now. I'm just thankful that they kind enough to offered their fridge so that the cream wouldn't soften. We ate the cake as a dessert in the restaurant and I was so relieved that it tasted great. The raspberry flavor was so intense, you know that I love raspberries more than any other berries and it's just the way I liked it! The gelee also provides some textural balance with a tad of tartness to it. Phew! at least the cake survived until dinner.

The restaurant was so dark that I couldn't take a good picture of the inside of the cake, and besides, my camera battery died on me. This is the only better picture I can take with the last breath of the battery.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great job. I love it.

Budget Dream Cakes

Anonymous said...

Great job. I love it.

Budget Dream Cakes

Rogue Designs said...

The cake turned out beautifully. You should be very proud for a) baking something based only on photos and partial translations and b) creating something so lovely to look at!