Sunday, June 29, 2008

project wedding cake: mango curd

project mango curd

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction]

So [wipes hands on the filthiest apron you have ever seen] where did we leave off? Oh right! You see, I am making a wedding cake. And despite the fact that I have made more birthday and celebration cakes in the last two years that I can count on all of my fingers and most of my toes, wedding cakes are a whole ‘nother scene. I thought “I’ll just bake three cakes and snap ‘em all together.” Hoo-hoo-hee-hee, how much I have learned!

battered mangoes and lime

Since we last spoke, we’ve made a lot of progress. I have baked 6″-square samples of both the vanilla and chocolate cakes we will be using with their requisite fillings, the bride came and tasted (also Joc, when I begged her to remove the thigh-offending goods from our fridge!), brought home samples and everyone involve declared them a raging success. How wonderful, right?

the lime was juiceless

I have also read all 240-and-counting of your comments and Internet, I am just filled with glee that you all came out to help this project along. I’d bake you all a cake, but I think we’ve already seen what kind of trouble that gets me into. Instead, I have made several adjustments based on your advice: the largest cake layer is now chocolate (in an effort to balance the number of white and chocolate cake slices) and I know with absolute certainty that I will be assembling the cake on site (I mean, phew, I was hoping you’d suggest that anyway).

mango, ready for the chopper

I have decided to stick with the cake sizes I outlined (12, 10 and 8-inch square) for a few reasons, the first being that it was way more cake than we needed to begin with for 55 people, even if the Wilton cake-cutting diagrams are skimpy, as many of you have said. However, after baking a sample cake, I am not sure I wholly agree. That cake was FIVE INCHES tall. A 2-inch by 1-inch by 5-inch slice was tremendous; two were absurd–I couldn’t eat dinner afterward. Most birthday and other cakes are much shorter, so I can see why that would be a pittance of a piece, but not these recipes I am using. Nevertheless, the third and finally reason I’m no longer fretting the cake slice size is that I’ve been informed that there will be both ice cream and cookies with the dessert course (and if I told you who was baking them, you’d understand why I don’t even think people will notice the cake), i.e. so much food nobody will even want a hearty slice. No matter how awesome it is.

But, as should be expected, I am still fretting over a few details and hope you can help me answer these remaining questions:

  1. I copped out–for the tasting at least–and made the classic, shiny Seven-Minute (i.e. Meringue) Frosting I am comfortable with, rather than working out my issues with Swiss Buttercream a week before the event. But I’m still not totally sold on using it, or won’t be until I get some answers to this question: Which frosting is more heat safe, if there is god-forbid a heat wave or the place’s a/c stops working? No, I don’t think that a this restaurant will have an a/c failure in July, but we must all be like boy scouts: prepared for everything!
  2. Does hell freeze over if you don’t strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve? Be honest. Lay it on me. I’m ready for it. It’s just that I made two cups of it on Wednesday night and it’s very delicious but it might have taken 30 minutes just to strain it and press it through. Imagine how long it will take for 10 cups! I will have to quit my day job. Oh wait.
  3. Any thoughts on how much curd is required to fill a 3-layer (so two layers of filling per cake) 10-inch square and 8-inch square? [I used half of the recipe below to cover two filling layers of a 6-inch square cake, i.e. 72 square inches so my rough guesstimate would be that I should make three times this to fill final cake with mango to spare, i.e. 328 square inches.]
  4. Can anyone explain to me how the frosting does not get messed up on the top of a cake, once it has another tier stacked on top of it? I know that you cut the dowels to the height of the frosted cake, but should you leave them sticking up an extra millimeter or two? I’m terrified of having unusable slices once the cake is unstacked. I’m also scared of revolving doors, but uh, I suppose that is unrelated.

mango pureemango to strainmaking mango curdmango on practice cake

Next up, we’ll have some cake recipes I think would be a welcome addition to any repertoire. And below is the core recipe I used for the mango curd, and it was wonderful. The original recipe had called for lemon juice, I felt lime was a much better contrast. It was truly delicious, equally good on yogurt or slicked between yellow cake layers.

Mango Curd
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 1998

Makes 1 to 1.5 cups

1 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar (might reduce this to 1/3 cup next time, to keep the curd more tart)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Puree mango, sugar, lime juice and salt in processor, scraping down sides of work bowl occasionally. Add yolks; puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large metal bowl, pressing on solids with back of spatula to release as much puree as possible. Discard solids in sieve.

Set metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., about 10 minutes. Remove from over water. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


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