Thursday, January 20, 2011
Frosty vanilla snowflake cake
It had been a while since I felt the burning ambition to decorate a cake. Lord knows I'm all about shortcuts these days -- which is why when I saw this in the Kraft Kitchens' holiday edition I knew this recipe would be quick to bake, slower to decorate. And though the purists may be choking on their homemade shortcrust pastry right now, sometimes that's about all you can ask of me.
The beauty of this dessert is that it is lovely, covered by fragile white-chocolate piped snowflakes that will hide a not-so-perfectly frosted cake.
The challenge of making this cake is that if you don't have a light hand in piping the snowflakes, it may look sloppy, childish even. And even if the snowflakes are perfect, you will want to make more than you need because a few of them will break on the way from your kitchen counter to your fridge. And then a few more will break in your hand. Fortunately, I've piped enough delicate figures that after piping a few, I got into a rhythm. Sketching a few different sizes and shapes on parchment paper will help keep you consistent.
You can find the recipe here. But like any Kraft Kitchens recipe, I see it more as a guideline. After all, who says you have to use ready-made cake mix? Who says you have to mix up this Cool Whip-based frosting or use raspberry jam? Why not make your own pound cake and cover it with butter cream? You can still cover it with snowflakes or even tailor the piped chocolate to suit your theme. Does your child adore astronomy? Pipe stars. Did you make this for Valentine's Day? Pipe hearts.
Substitutions: Despite my preamble, I stuck close to the script. I used vanilla cake mix, but I forgot to stir some of the instant pudding mix into the batter. Wasn't a big deal, after all.
However, rather than use the white chocolate mentioned in the ingredients, I bought the wafers from the bulk food store because I have had some experience with piping baking chocolate and because of the cocoa butter content it doesn't always harden as you want it to.
Also, rather than use a piping bag, I used a decorating pen, but to be honest I ended up wishing I used a piping bag because I had to stop after making a few snowflakes to refill the pen and it slowed me down.
Would I make this again? Probably not the exact same cake. But I will in the future decorate a white-frosted cake with white chocolate piped snowflakes, or hearts, or swirls perhaps. The effect, especially at a distance, and especially if you are making an entrance, is quite lovely. The white on white is almost lace-like in appearance and gives you the illusion of masking any imperfections. That's my kind of decorating.
Grade: Four stars out of five, with bonus marks for creativity.
I've linked this post to Sweets for a Saturday.