Monday, August 02, 2010
I must have been in a fruit mood. Needing a recipe for a dinner party my parents were having, I looked up cakes on Tasty Kitchen and picked out the lemon cake... the mango raspberry cake... the strawberry shortcake cake... the rhubarb cake... the lime cake... and one inexcusable chocolate cake covered in caramel pecan praline sauce which I will never make. I settled on the Lime Sheet Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
You start by zesting and juicing two limes. Then add a french vanilla cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water. Dump it all in a bowl.
When it's mixed it looks like a sour-cream-and-chives vegetable dip. I decided to add just one drop of green food color.
It looked nice being mixed in, but then the color seemed to disappear and I wondered if I'd added enough. The baked cake layers didn't really look green. But once I'd cut them open-- perfect! Just a bit of green, light enough that people could believe it came naturally from the lime zest.
Into the oven with you!
Perhaps you've wondered, "Why does Rachel make so many sweets?" My people, this is why. There is no greater food-related pleasure than licking out the bowl. If my mom were doing this, she'd scrape the bowl much cleaner and have almost nothing left to enjoy. Mom weighs about 110 and looks fabulous. I lick out the bowl.
I lost track of time and the layers darkened too much at the edges and cracked in the middle. But that won't matter much. Oh, the recipe called for this all to be baked on a big sheet pan, but I wanted a layer cake so I had to bake the batter in 8" pans for much longer than the recipe called for. Don't ask how long-- I lost track, remember?
When I quit my job two years ago, I was given a really nice (and heavy) marble cake stand that a co-worker's mother had bought at the Carnegie-Mellon Museum. They invited me back six months later and I gladly accepted, so I'm at the same job still, but I didn't give back the farewell presents. :) This cake stand has a raised medallion in the center, and I wasn't sure how that was supposed to work with a cake, but I decided to just go for it.
It was a bit nervewracking trying to center the layer of cake perfectly, 'cause it's not going to slide when it's on top of that raised medallion thing (maybe that's what it's there for?) Fortunately I got it right. You can't exactly hold the layer upside down and slowly position it perfectly, 'cause the cake might fall apart under its own weight. So you just flip it over quickly and hope for the best.
The white chocolate frosting looked great. Meditate upon its whitechocolateyness:
Frosting is one of the most fun steps, I think.
Spread it out and then it's time to slap on the second layer.
Fortunately, on frosting it slides right over.
Now to frost the sides! (You might notice I cut off the burnt edge. That wasn't because I was longing for a piece to snack on or anything.)
The main problem with baking too long is that the darkened edges want to show through the frosting. But once all the frosting was on and evenly spread out, it was fine. Like love, frosting covers over a multitude of sins.
Now for the top...
I just slapped the frosting on quickly and smoothed it out roughly, but it already looks great. I stuck it in the fridge after this to firm up the frosting a bit, and then I obsessively smoothed it out for ten minutes, at the end of which the cake looked... about as good as it does in this picture.
The final stage. It was my mom who took a potato peeler to the third lime we happened to have. I didn't think the idea would work out, but Mom's usually right and the peel was a perfect decoration, looking pretty and effectively communicating, "This is lime cake you're looking at."
It's too bad I wasn't making this cake for someone named Elizabeth. I don't know what her last initial would be anyway.
I just know that it was a nice summer cake, not too sweet and full of lime flavor. And the frosting was a perfect complement.
And by the end of the night the nine of us had polished it off.