A Good Cake – I mean, Weekend.
We had a bank holiday in Ireland this past Monday which means – you guessed it – a long weekend for Patrick! It would have been great to stick around Waterford for the weekend (the weather has been glorious; hot and sunny, perfect for beaching) but there was just too much going on around the country.
We managed to squeeze in my brother-in-law’s birthday party in Tipperary, The Sky Cat Laughs comedy festival in Kilkenny, a charity tug-of-war competition and family BBQ (also in Tipp, at our local), Bloom in the Park (which will be my next post) in Dublin and a quading adventure in Wexford (this was just for Pat, I, for obvious pregnancy-related reasons did not partake).
We got back to Waterford on Monday evening, completely spent. But it was so worth it. We had a fabulous weekend with our friends and family.
Being the resident cake-maker in the family, it once again fell to me to create a birthday cake for my brother-in-law. When I asked him a few weeks back about his favourite cake, he told me it was boiled fruit cake.
I told him I was definitely not making him a boiled fruit cake for his birthday; he could wait for Christmas like everyone else. *On a side note, could you ever imagine a Canadian guy requesting boiled fruit cake for his birthday? Not in a million years.
In the end he said he would like anything, as long as it didn’t include dark chocolate. I could handle that.
I went for a hot milk vanilla layer cake. I filled the layers with a strawberry Crème Saint-Honoré (which is a thick custard that has been lightened with stiffly beaten egg whites). Then, I masked the cake in a French buttercream and topped it with white chocolate-covered strawberries.
I thought the cake looked a tad plain after adding the strawberries, so I went out into the garden and got some flowers. The yellow and purple gave the cake the pop of colour it needed and we were good to go. The cake itself was moist, not too heavy (even with the French buttercream) and had the perfect amount of strawberry flavour from the Crème Saint-Honoré. The only problem was, for a farmer’s birthday cake, I went slightly overboard with the flowers and hot pink candles. OK, and I also used food colouring paste to dye the cake layers a deep crimson.
I wish I had gotten a picture of the inside of the cake, but it was attacked by half-drunk relatives and I had a hard time finding a piece that didn’t look mangled.
Find below the recipe for my strawberry Crème Saint-Honoré. Traditionally, it’s used as a filling for choux pastry – eclairs and profiteroles. It’s also delicious served with strawberry shortcake, or eaten with a spoon as you would a mousse. The cake and French buttercream recipe will be coming soon!
Strawberry Crème Saint-Honore
8 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugars
3 cups freshly prepared crème pâtisièrre (heavy custard)
1 pint fresh Irish strawberries, pureed with a blender
- Make the crème pâtisièrre by whisking 1 cup of sugar with 5 egg yolks and 1 tsp of vanilla until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Mix in 1/2 cup of flour, then, while continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in two cups of boiling milk. Move the mixture into a saucepan and, over medium heat, whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened (it will be extremely thick by the time it’s ready).
- Take the pot off the heat and immediately beat in 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter.
- While the crème pâtissière is hot, start whisking the egg whites with the salt. When soft peaks have formed, sprinkle on the icing sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks have formed.
- Fold the stiffly beaten egg whites into the hot crème pâtisièrre.
- Puree the strawberries and press through a fine sieve. Add the strained puree to the Crème Saint-Honore and gently fold to combine. Chill completely before using.