Hosting a cake tasting is a TON of work, but its also really gratifying. Its kind of like having final exams in college. You study and work through example problems for days and days ahead of time and just when you think you can't take any more, you sit for the test and (hopefully, if you did everything right!) get good feedback about all your hard work. Its a chance to refresh yourself on cake recipes, fillings and buttercreams you may not have had a reason to make for anyone for a long time and its also a test of your ability to be organized.
This cake tasting was special, too because the bride and groom will be hosting a brunch reception. I have never been to a brunch reception, but from a cake perspective, it opens up a whole new world of possible (and delicious!) cake possibilities. One such possibility was this Blueberry Breakfast Cake recipe I stumbled upon:
Unfortunately I ended up having to make two batches of the blueberry cake. The texture was nice, and it was just a beautiful as the pictures, but it literally had NO FLAVOR. Well, I lie, it tasted like blueberries - the only time you could taste anything was biting into one, and despite being a great batch of blueberries when eaten by themselves (had to test them out, right?) they were tart and unappetizing in the cake.
I made a second batch, doubled the amount of sugar (which is still using less than most of my other cake recipes) and rolled the blueberries in sugar instead of flour before incorporating them into the batter on the last step. Those small changes made a HUGE difference and the second set of blueberry cake was almost too good to be able to resist eating it all by myself right at that moment. The cake actually tastes very similar to a blueberry muffin and with the changes to the recipe the tastes of the blueberries and cake meld together seamlessly in your mouth. GREAT SUCCESS!
The other cake I thought would fit perfectly at a brunch reception was my maple cake. I had been working on perfecting this recipe for a couple months and thought that this would be the perfect application of it. It tastes like a cake version of buttermilk pancakes and syrup, although the taste is rather subtle, not like getting smacked in the face with a plate of syrupy pancakes (that's a funny thought to picture).
I was surprised just how subtle the maple flavor was in the cake. To make just six cupcakes I used a half a bottle of pure maple syrup. I think I may experiment a little more with this recipe in the future and try to incorporate a maple extract for a little extra va-va-voom.
The remaining two flavors my guests wanted to try were my always-loved grapefruit cake and classic yellow cake.
I am always surprised that people like the strawberry curd - it is personally the least favorite of my filling flavors, but I haven't had a cake tasting yet where it wasn't LOVED by everyone in attendance. One bride even liked it enough to order it as her wedding cake filling flavor. Besides the taste, it also bothers me that it always comes out a subdued mauve color, rather than red or pink like strawberries. I am loathe to pollute it with any sort of artificial coloring though...so mauve it stays, at least for now. (Speaking of...did you hear that the red food coloring in Yoplait yogurt's fruit on the bottom cups is made from bugs...I think I'll take mauve over bugs any day!)
What delicious adventures do you have coming up?