Monday, October 6, 2014

HFF #10: Let Them Eat Cake

The Challenge: Make a cake.

The Recipe: Lemon Cake with Almond Icing from Mrs. Beeton's.

Date/Year & Region: 1861, British

How Did You Make It:  Separated 10 eggs; beat the whites, then added orange-flower water, 1.5 cups granulated sugar, minced lemon rind, and mixed well.  Stirred the juice of 1 lemon into the 10 egg yokes and added to the preceding mixture.  Slowly stirred in 3 cups of flour.  Baked in an oiled bundt pan for 55-60 minutes at 350F.

For the icing, whipped 4 egg whites (used pasteurized egg whites since this is to be served uncooked), added 4 cups powdered sugar, about 1 tsp almond extract and 1 tsp rosewater.  Poured over cake (letting it set made the icing runny), and garnished with fresh lemon wedges (Friday) or strips of candied peel (Saturday).

Time to Complete: About 90 minutes.

Total Cost: Uncertain.  Probably on the order of $6.

How Successful Was It: It seemed well received.  The cake came out a bit dark, having been cooked in an aluminum pan--the closest one I had to a period cake tin.  It was also a little bit dense, which I'm attributing to the lack of chemical leavening.  The lemon, almond and rosewater flavors were very interesting together, and I think I would use this recipe again.  However, I would not make the icing early as it became very viscous.

How Accurate Was It: Fairly.  I already mentioned the "make do" pan; again, I used converted volume measures instead of weights.  In the icing, pasteurized egg whites were an intentional decision, as was using almond extract instead of grinding up almonds in rosewater--which I considered, but dismissed because I had a lot of other things which needed to be done (this being part of my first big dinner).  Using an electric mixer was also a compromise, but I'm not quite mad enough to voluntarily beat than many egg whites by hand.

Separated eggs, egg whites beaten until fluffy.
So many eggs...
Batter for Victorian lemon cake in pan.
The yellow color is actually from the eggs, not the lemon...
Baked cake.
All baked!
Plated cake.
The other side is a little darker.
Lemon cake with almond (glaze) icing and lemon wedges.
Garnished with lemon wedges on Friday night.
Lemon cake with almond glaze and candied peel.
Saturday's cake has candied lemon peel on top.

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