Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just relax

How have I gotten so fortunate? A dinner party tonight, and I am responsible for nothing! It has been so many years that I have been a chef, and but a few friends invite me over without the un-welcomed question, “how did I do?”

Now, I find myself living with someone who is interested in taking control and expressing themselves. Oh sure, there are the struggles over who knows best but when it comes to the kitchen I know I know best. Granted, I tend to stay clear of the kitchen to avoid giving advice, obsessively cleaning, cringing at the lack of knife skills. I am learning to let go, and enjoy the expression of love. Of course, the downside is I now have to do the dishes.

Since I didn’t have to spend the afternoon shopping and prepping I actually felt free to play. So, while the kitchen was empty I ran in and baked….an activity I will indulge, but I would never want to spend my days doing. My icing technique never developed much beyond “homey.”

My intention was to whip up a little dessert I have been holding on the tip of my tongue, and help take some of the stress off my boyfriend’s to-do list. And, the truth-be-told I have been curious to see how coconut milk would work as a replacement for milk in a white cake recipe I love. Or, was it a hidden desire to wrestle control back? No, I am happy to be a guest, and offer a host gift – all right maybe in my mind I might be having a tough time letting go of the meal.

Floral Coconut Cake – yields 8-inch cake (4-layers)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4-teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
3/4-cup coconut milk
1-teaspoon rose water

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and lightly flour two 8-inch cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until very light in color and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk the whites, milk and rose water together to completely combine.

To the butter mixture add a third of the flour, and mix to combine. Then add a third of the coconut milk mixture to combine. Continue to add the remaining ingredients ending with the flour. Divide the cake batter between the two cake pans, and then place in the oven. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove to a cooling rack, and rest the cakes for 5 minutes. Turn the cakes out of their pans onto the cooling rack, and allow the cakes to cool completely.

Guava Coconut filling:
8 ounces guava paste
1-cup coconut milk
2-egg yolks

In the microwave oven warm the guava paste for 60 seconds. Transfer the guava paste to a 1-1/2 quart saucepan, and add the coconut milk. Over a medium flame stir the guava and coconut milk with a small whisk until the guava is completely dissolved.

In a small work bowl whisk the egg yolks, and then add about a 1/4-cup of the warm guava mixture. Return the egg yolks to the warm guava mixture, and lower the heat to low. With a rubber spatula stir the mixture, constantly, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil. Once the mixture has thickened slightly transfer the guava mixture to a small bowl and refrigerate.

Carefully cut each cake into half to create four layers.

Spread a third of the cooled guava mixture on the bottom layer. Continue with the remaining layers. Crumb coat (a thin layer of icing) the over the cake, and refrigerate in order to set this initial icing. Once the cake has chilled icing the cake completely with the buttercream. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes to set the icing (any leftover buttercream can be successfully frozen for up to a few months).

Rose scented Italian Buttercream – yields approx. 2 1/2 cups
2 cups sugar
2/3-cup water
6 egg whites
10 ounces (2-1/2 sticks) sweet butter – at room temperature
2-teaspoons rosewater

In a 2-quart saucepan combine the sugar and water, and place over a medium flame. Gently stir the sugar to dissolve in the water. Allow the sugar to come to the boil, and then lower the flame to a medium low. Cook the sugar for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bubbles that form rise and pop slowly.

Start beating the egg whites in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk. Once the whites reach a stiff peak lower the speed, and very slowly pour in the hot sugar mixture. Increase the speed of the mixture and continue to beat the egg whites until they are cooled completely, about 10 to 15 minutes. Then start dropping in the butter, about a tablespoon at a time, until all the butter has been added. Mix in the rosewater and beat for 5 minutes longer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set before spreading onto a completely cooled cake.


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