Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baby Bootie Cakes

I love to bake.  So when some women at my church got together to plan a baby shower, I offered to make the cakes!  The mommy-to-be grew up in the church and knows everyone, so the entire church was invited!  Luckily, we go to a small/mid-sized church, but still that is a lot of people.  And for some reason RSVP-ing does not seem to really be done anymore (why is that, anyway??), so we had no idea how many people to expect.

Now seriously, I don't know why I didn't just make a sheet cake and some cupcakes or something and call it a day.  Well, maybe I do know why.  Because I am a crazy person and I invited the challenge for doing something out of the ordinary.  I originally found the idea for the baby bootie cakes here on Martha Stewart's site, but they were for numerous tiny cakes and that seemed like too much work.  (???)  So I decided to make 2 ginormous baby booties because for some reason that seemed easier.  (Really??  Easier??  Oh, boy...)

For one of the cakes, I used the recipe for Perfect Party Cakes by Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.  It really does make the perfect party cake.  Unlike a lot of white cakes, it has the right amount of lemon zest to give it some zip, and the cake itself is light and delicious.  It has become one of  my go-to cake recipes!  Try it.  I did not use the buttercream from this recipe or the filling, for no reason other than I wanted to try something different.  Dorie suggests spreading raspberry preserves over the layers.  I alternated between raspberry filling and lemon curd.  For the icing, I used a swiss meringue buttercream.  It was my first time trying this one and it was WONDERFUL.  So yummy.

Since I didn't use Dorie's recipe for the filling or buttercream, here is what I did:

Did you know you can make lemon curd in the microwave?  I didn't and it is super easy!
Microwave Lemon Curd
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3 lemons, zested
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and butter. Cook in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the microwave, and pour into small containers. Store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.
Tip: If you over cook the mixture a little, or forget to stir, you can pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the bits of cooked egg.
Printable Recipe

Raspberry Filling
2 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Puree the raspberries in your favorite way:  a food processor, blender or immersion blender. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. (This takes a while so get your patience ready.  It is worth it!)  Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken.
Let it cool complete before spreading it thinly over cake layers.
Printable Recipe

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
This recipe is from Sweetapolita.  I am so thankful for her many pictures and descriptions that went along with making this buttercream!  It is truly the most delicious buttercream I have ever tasted!  And seriously, the meringue itself before you add the butter?  A DREAM.  I will definitely be using this meringue in the future!  However for the baby bootie cakes, I decided to make the buttercream even crazier (I mean I had never done a swiss meringue buttercream before, why stop there?)  I made it a Lemon Curd Swiss Buttercream!  So, I halved the recipe below and added 2 cups of lemon curd with the vanilla extract.  It was delicious.  I should have probably cut back on the butter a bit, as this buttercream was rather loose, but it worked!

16 large egg whites (2 cups) -- I used a carton of egg whites and it worked perfectly!
4 cups granulated sugar
10 sticks of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
2 TB pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Wipe down the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, small bowl, and whisk with paper towel and lemon juice (or vinegar), to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar to mixing bowl,  and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot (you can feel a drop in between your fingers to ensure no granules.).
Take mixing bowl off of stove, and place bowl back on electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and neutral.  Feel the outsides of the mixing bowl to test the temperature.  Remove your whisk attachment and fit in your paddle attachment.  While mixing on low speed continously, add butter one cube at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture.  If it looks curdled, take a deep breath and keep going.  It will come back to smooth.   Add vanilla and salt, anf mix well. This is when you might want to add some extracts or other flavoring.  If buttercream is too runny, the butter was possibly too soft--place into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then beat again. If still too runny, add a few more cubes of butter and keep beating. Use immediately, or refrigerate/freeze.
Printable Recipe

Anyway, since the baby bootie cakes are ginormous, I ended up making a total of 5 layers of cake.  Three layers were for the heel part of the bootie, and two for the toe part.  Each layer was split, so in reality there were 6 layers in the heel and 4 in the toe.  Are you with me?  I filled each part of the bootie separately, alternating between lemon curd and raspberry filling.  Each layer had a circle of buttercream on the very edge, then the filling went inside the circle.  This helps to prevent the filling from oozing out to the sides of the cake!  Once the toe was filled, I cut a rounded wedge off of one edge to try to get it to match up with the roundness of the heel part of the cake.  I pressed the two bootie parts together and applied the buttercream to the entire thing! To decorate, I used my biggest star tip and made stars along the top of the bootie, and used the same tip to go around the entire bottom of the sole of the bootie.  I layed a strip of strawberry fruit roll-up over the bootie for the strap, and used a medium sized round tip to pipe the buckle onto the fruit roll-up for the buckle.  I used that same tip to do an outline of the toe of the shoe.  I apologize for not taking pictures of all of this.  Bad blogger! 

For the second bootie (yes indeed, there were two!) I wanted a chocolate cake.  I made the Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Gourmet Magazine, March 1999.  It is extremely similar to my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe, Beatty's Chocolate Cake by Ina Garten, and I wanted to see if the minor differences really did anything.  In my humble opinion, I'll continue with Beatty.  They are practically interchangeable so I guess I just hold true to the first one I tried!  Anyway, the Double Chocolate Layer Cake is supposed to be filled with chocolate ganache, but I decided to go ahead and add the raspberry filling here too.  Thus the cake had alternating layers of ganache and raspberry.  I ended up making a total of 6 layers of this one.  The individual layers were not as tall as the Perfect Party Cake, so I made more layers and hoped I could get the booties to match! The heel of this cake had 3 1/2 full layers and the toe had 2 1/2, but once they were split, there were 7 layers on the heel and 5 on the toe.  Phew!  I used 1/2 of Sweetopolita's buttercream recipe above as written.  By some total miracle, I got the aqua colors to match!  I decorated this bootie the same as the first, putting the buckle on the other side of the strap to make a Left and Right side.

This was my first attempt at anything other than round layer cakes of "normal" sizes.  I am thrilled at the outcome!  I am sure there are plenty of things I could have done better, but I am happy with how these worked.  They looked fantastic and tasted amazing.  And truly, it is the taste that is most important!  (to me, anyway!!)

1 comment:

  1. The chocolate cake was divine!!


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