RECIPE: In Australia Melbourne Cup Day is a big deal. Not everyone is a fan of horse racing, but everyone loves dressing up and in Melbourne they even have a public holiday. The first flavours that came to mind were champagne and strawberries, which back in my student days was how we started celebrating. I liked Rebecca’s recipe (see below) because it used Italian Meringue Buttercream, which is far more stable and copes better with being out of the fridge while it’s being served. I had to convert all the measurements to grams, as they are provided in US cup sizes. I made the full quantity of the champagne cake mix but as cupcakes instead of a cake, and only made 5/9 of the buttercream mix (ie. five eggs), exactly the right amount for dressing the cupcakes. I topped the cakes with the champagne buttercream, some crushed freeze-dried strawberries and a piece of fresh strawberry. The cake recipe made 48 patty cakes (traditional cupcake size, not muffin size).
COMPONENTS: The cake mix took a bit longer than most recipes do, but it wasn’t difficult. Go gently when stirring in the egg whites – it’s best to add a little and mix it through thoroughly, then add the remainder gently in another 2-3 goes only mixing until it’s just combined. When making the Italian Meringue Buttercream, everything was going wonderfully until I started mixing in the butter. My kitchen was once again too warm (about 27 degrees Celcius), and the butter was too soft. I should perhaps have cooled the meringue for longer – next time I’ll check the temperature of each with a thermometer before adding in the butter. If they’re a similar temperature there’s less chance of the meringue melting the butter. Result was, I curdled my buttercream. Fortunately this happened early enough that I was able to put it in the fridge for several hours before attempting the rescue. The rescue involved melting one cup of the curdled buttercream and using a mixer to mix it through the remaining buttercream. It took a little time, but end result was perfect buttercream – totally saved! Stupid kitchen.
ASSEMBLY: When the cakes cooled down they came out of the tins perfectly. Once I had rescued the buttercream, I piped it in a spiral on the cakes. I then crushed the freeze-dried strawberries while still in the sealed packet, then sprinkled them over the cakes. Topped with a slice of strawberry, they were finished.
IMPRESSION: The cake was light and tasted lovely, but the champagne flavour really didn’t come through, even though I painted reduced champagne across the cakes and had reduced champagne in the buttercream. I suspect it’s a difficult flavour to make dominant – I found out afterwards that the author of the recipe recommends sweet champagne as this works better. The crushed strawberries were perfect sprinkled on top. The buttercream wasn’t particularly sweet, I almost found it too buttery, but everyone else loved it (I have a very sweet tooth). Lovely cakes and a big hit!
Recipe from Rebecca Of Batter and Dough