I love to bake. I love to cook. There are few things in life I enjoy more than being in the kitchen. With a cup of coffee or glass of wine in hand and some Sinatra on the Sonos, creating something to enjoy with the ones I love around our family table truly feeds my soul. And while I’ve mastered the art of squeezing a layer cake or a multi-course meal out in a very cramped amount of time, something I haven’t seemed to master is always having the right ingredients on hand. Sure, I
almost always have the essentials; eggs, milk, butter, flour, sugar, etc., but the little, lesser known players like buttermilk and cake flour sometimes slip under the radar.
As a result of this, I have become an expert in culinary substitutions. I grew up watching my mom swap the occasional applesauce for vegetable oil, but did you know that you can make cake flour by simply adding the right amount of corn starch to regular, self-rising flour? For buttermilk, you can actually add a bit of vinegar to regular milk or use plain old yogurt instead. Needless to say, in all of my
earnest, I’ve learned how to cut a lot of corners. As long as you get the ratios right (if any of my students are reading this, pay attention to your fractions!), there is always a way to make it work. I like to consider these concoctions my own adventures in chemistry, seeing as though that was the one lab science I managed to avoid my entire academic career!
Yesterday, though, I ventured into some unknown territory . . . a land in which I had to make frosting without any confectioners (powdered) sugar. I thought about making a simple glaze, but that idea was quickly thwarted when I realized that glaze, too, requires the powdered goodness. So, I called in the big guns: Google.
With a little digging I was able to find a recipe for icing that called for three simple ingredients: eggs yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Some of you may find it interesting that I had sweetened condensed milk in the pantry and not powdered sugar but items of the canned variety usually last longer than anything else in my house. While on the subject of frosting and icing, did you know that there is actually a categorical difference between the two? I always thought that which term you used was based on geography, like soda vs. pop (soda), sneakers vs. tennis shoes (sneakers), but ohhhhhhh no, my friends. According to my Williams Sonoma cookbook
are two distinctively different finishing touches. In case you were wondering, frosting
is of a thicker consistency used to coat the outside of a cake while icing
is generally thinner and more sugary in nature. After reading this it occurred to me that icing
sounds a whole lot like a glaze,
but the book had a separate bio for that accoutrement as well. And we all know there is no arguing with Williams Sonoma.
Anyhow, since I was set on making my absolute favorite yellow butter cake
, I decided to try this modified icing recipe
since I could easily throw some fresh lemon zest and juice in there to keep the dessert light and summertime fresh. For any of you who have not tried this particular butter cake recipe, I highly recommend it. Its very easy to make and absolutely fool proof. I’ve modified it for pound cakes, cupcakes, etc., and it has never let me down. This is also probably a good time for me to confess my undying devotion to my neighbor (and by neighbor I mean her
estate farm heaven
house is about 15 minutes away) and Domestic Queen Martha Stewart
and warn you that many of my future food posts may be laden with her recipes or tricks of the trade. Much to my father’s chagrin (he still can’t seem to get past her stint in the Slammer), I am a Martha (and fellow GWU alumna, Ina Garten, for that matter) diehard. But, I digress.
As a general rule of thumb, every time I try a new recipe I follow it exactly and then tend to modify or make changes as I see fit in the future. I try not to assume that I always have a better idea. So I whisked away over the flame as directed and did not add my lemon zest (about 2 lemons worth) or lemon juice (about 1 full lemon’s worth) until the icing was slightly cool.
I should add that it is super important to let the cakes cool completely before you attempt to frost, ice, or glaze anything. I pulled these guys out of the oven just as I was walking out the door to go to Mass and they were completely cool by the time we got home, so it takes a little over an hour. Definitely don’t want to rush that part of the process! The consistency of the icing was fair, but certainly too thick to glaze the way I would have liked it too. I would have heated it up a tick more but condensed milk plus butter is a recipe for evisceration so I decided to spread the icing all over so that it resembled a frosting.
I probably could have added a bit of regular milk to thin it out a bit, but I just wasn’t in the mood. I did add a layer that had cooled more in between the cakes and it had a yummy fresh (almost) lemon curd feel to it.
|In truth, it tasted delicious; just sweet enough with the right amount of freshness from the lemon. A sprinkling of freshly toasted coconut would have been heavenly, but we will have to save that for another day.