Tuesday, September 21, 2010

41. Leaning Tower of Wedding Cake

When you’re young, everything is possible. You expect that all will go right, nothing wrong. From the very beginning, I was determined to make good-looking and also good-tasting wedding cakes. Most of what you get these days is patterned after the Wilton School of Cakes and the products look beautiful because the fondant is smooth and terribly white and the icings are every shade of the rainbow. But the cakes I learned to make in Austria and in France had real flavor.

The American cake industry is based on the high-ratio cake, that is, a high ratio of sugar to flour. Sugar delays gelatinization as it competes for water with starch granules in the formula. This causes the cake to rise higher, and more of the water is outside rather than inside the starch granules. The result is a moistness inachievable in the traditional pound cakes, sponge cakes, and genoises. In a poundcake, the ratio of sugar to flour is 1:1. In many high-ratio cakes, the ratio is 1.4 to 1.

My very first wedding cake was not stacked but tiered. As I recall, I charged $25 for it! It served maybe 100. Cheapest wedding cake ever made. I made the tiers out of plywood and dowels, but I made the dowels too long and skinny. As a result, the cake, which was an almond cake with almond buttercream, had a tendency to list to port.

When I delivered the cake, I had to hold the cake up so it wouldn’t collapse during the photoshoot. I was wearing a dirty sweater, so that completed the ambience. Another product of the Goofy Bastard.

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