Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Couture Inspired Cakes

The world of design is full of inspiration, borrowing and expanding on ideas that cross the genres of graphic, textile, visual, architectural and natural forms. On wedding dresses, I love the row of tiny little pearl buttons that often grace the back of the bodice and sometimes trail down the skirt. And rouched bodices! Oh how I wish there were more occasions to wear formal dresses. 

Thankfully, I can have my taste of formal design (and eat it too) with couture inspired cake design.  I think that this would be an amazing small wedding cake, or incorporated into a larger tiered design.  The cake itself is wedding worthy: a bridal white cake with raspberry filling  and Italian meringue buttercream (recipe follows)

Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC)

1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter chilled, but not hard
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

How to: 

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer which is about the soft ball stage.
  2. Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.
  3. With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until bowl feels cool to the palms when touched, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle and continue beating and add butter by the tablespoon, waiting for it to be incorporated before adding the next chunk. Watch in horror as the mixture becomes a curdled mess.  Continue beating. The buttercream will come back together and become smooth and fluffy. If the temperature in your house is over 75, I suggest putting some soft ice packs around the bottom of the bowl to keep the buttercream cool. You know the buttercream is ready when it makes a 'slapping' sound in the mixer. 

    Use the buttercream immediately, or allow to firm up a bit in the fridge if it is too limp.  This buttercream freezes beautifully and with a slow defrost and a quick re-whip in the mixer, it is ready to go. 

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