Saturday, March 29, 2008

My first Daring Bakers Challenge!

Finally got my first DB task down to pat! The theme was Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party cake - the idea was to make a layer cake using her basic recipe and tweak it to any flavour you desire. Deciding on what flavours was no mean feat - there were just too many ideas that immediately popped to mind! Should I stick to the original lemon/coconut combination the recipe called for? Pandan cake with gula-melaka filling for a bit of Asian influence? Something totally wacky and off the beaten track? Believe you me, that got me stuck in a quandry for some time!

After the incessant to-ing and fro-ing and ho-ing and hum-ming, I decided to work close to the theme and use a lemond curd filling and a lighter whipped cream infused with lavender in place of the butter frosting. ("Lick your lips, help your hips", no?) This is the first time I've made lemon curd after reading so much about it, and I'm pleased to say it was deliciously tangy and sourish, exactly the way I like it.
Oh, the lavender cream. Ooh-la-la. All I can say is that it got me floored. Maybe prostrated. Definitely dancing in absolute reverence to light, billowy, lavender-perfumed clouds. It was simply, simply amazing. I had a hard time looking for the lavender flowers but finally hunted it down in David Jones gourmet foods! (Also couldn't help indulging in a pack of black sesame rice crackers there. Heaven.)

As for the cake, it turned out moist, citrusy and full-flavoured. This is the first time I've attempted a Dorie Greenspan recipe and it's no wonder she's so revered in the culinary circle. I must admit that though the cake was delicious and warranted no complaints whatsoever, I would personally prefer something a little lighter on the spongy side for layer cakes.

The most challenging part was probably assembling the cake, what with the Butter-fingers-itis i seemed to have mysteriously contracted over the past 2 days. Looking at the amount of mess I created and the 2 near accidents which almost saw the cake kiss the floor, it's a miracle I emerged out of the kitchen without any cream stuck on my hair! The results were all worth the effort though. I thought the cake didn't look half bad for a first try and the floral tones and citrus pair up ever so seamlessly. Definitely something I'll serve up at a party!

Here are the recipes for the lemon curd and lavender cream. I am usually quite generous with my seasonings, so feel free to chuck in more lemon/lavender buds if you feel like it!

Lemon Curd - the recipe calls for Meyer lemons but I used normal ones
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest plus 3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a small heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk yolk in a small bowl, then add about one fourth of lemon-juice mixture, whisking vigorously. Whisk into remaining lemon-juice mixture and gently boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter and zest. Transfer filling to a bowl and cover surface with buttered parchment paper. Chill until cool, at least 30 minutes.

Heavenly Lavender Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms

Bring cream, honey, and lavender blossoms just to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and let steep, covered, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids, and chill lavender cream, covered, until cold.

adapted from epicurious


kitten said...

incredible job on your first challenge. the lavender cream sounds so delectable, i'm definitely going to try that!

L Vanel said...

A beautiful looking cake. Congratulations!

Jerry said...

Congrats on your first challenge! Good use of lavendar! I love the idea!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful job! I saw someone else with lavender in their cake and was so impressed. It is an ingredient I never would have thought of! Great job, such a delicate looking cake!

Lunch Buckets said...

I sucked in a little air when I saw the lavender. Brilliant!

Jenny said...

Wow, how I wish I could have tasted this creation! Sounds absolutely wonderful. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

Great job on your 1st challenge. Love the idea of lavender!

kate said...

wow--lavender! such a great choice! looks wonderful. congrats.

Lesley said...

I seriously considered lavender for this cake, maybe next time. Great job.

Dolores said...

Oh, I love your lavender-laced layer cake! Congratulations, and welcome to the daring baker madness. It's good to have you here!

marias23 said...

Hey Cynthia! Lavender and lemon sounds like a perfect combo. I was in France last month and got a bag of lavender there. Your cake has given me a new idea on how to use it :)

Y said...

Oh my, that DOES look good! I've been looking for lavender too. Didn't realise DJs had it, so thanks for the tip :)

Cynthia said...

Thanks guys! I really had loads of fun (and frustrations) doing this cake, but hey, no pain, no gain! ;p

Looking forward to the next challenge! ;D

tricia said...

lavender is such a great idea! i can just imagine how delicious it was. great job! congratulations on your induction into the db's!

Sheltie Girl said...

Your cake looks simply scrumptious. I love the sound of lavender cream. Yumm...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Gustav said...


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