Sunday, August 26, 2007

a wedding shower


First you get engaged, then comes the wedding shower, bachelorette party, the big day, the honeymoon. The union of two people is much cause for celebration. The story of many a young couple begins as such, planning, laughing and crying, all the while carefully watched over (and many times scrutinized) by mothers, fathers, friends... It's all so stressful and yet so completely worth the tears, heartache, and heartburn! At the end of it all, you are left with the person whom you'll begin a family with, a life with. And to think it all started with a simple crush....

Many of my girlfriends have gotten engaged recently and the kickoff to parties, luncheons, weddings, and receptions has begun. In all honesty, they leave me a little sad. It's gotten me thinking about my own wedding, however soon or far off it may be, and just how few family members will be there with me. All of them are overseas, and since I'm an only child, the bride's side of the room seems a little lonely to me. Well, nevertheless, I will have many friends there to eat and drink with me, all of whom I consider family, the best and biggest family.

I attended Mr.S's sister's wedding shower this weekend. The theme was a kitchen shower, in which guests were asked to bring the bride their favorite recipes, and in which most the gifts were kitchen-friendly. It was all so endearing, sitting under the tent in the yard, nibbling on finger sandwiches, salads, and petits fours.


I baked a cake for the occasion, a simple white layer cake, with vanilla buttercream and the last of the season's blueberries. It was my first time sugaring the fruit, and it turned out wonderfully! I was happy with the cake too, soft and light, simple and classic. Cheers to the happily soon-to-be-married couple!


White Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Fresh
Blueberries
adapted from Baking Illustrated

Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1
cup whole milk, at room temperature
6
large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
2
tsp almond extract
1
tsp
1 3/4
cups sugar

4 tsp baking powder
1
tsp salt

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool

Buttercream:
4
large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch
salt
1 lb
unsalted butter (4 sticks), cut into pieces, softened, but still cool
1 tsp
vanilla extract

Blueberries:
½ cup fresh blueberries

1 tsp egg white
½ cup sugar

1. For the Cake: Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

4. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

7. For the Buttercream: Combine whites, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 1/2-inches of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.

8. Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm (about 80 degrees) and whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-high and beat in butter
1 piece at a time. Beat in vanilla extract. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute.

9. Sugared blueberries: Coat the blueberries in egg white and roll in a shallow pan with the sugar until all the berries are covered.

10. Assemble the cake: Spread cream and berries on the first layer of cake.

Add the second layer of cake. Frost the top and sides.

Arrange the berries on top in a circle first then mound the sugared berries in the middle.