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Cakes and Curds

June 27, 2011

Some people don’t wait until the last minute to do things. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people. But I’ve been struggling with my own work style since grade school. Luckily it has always seemed to work out. Sure, I may be more tired than most people, since I’m up all hours of the night finishing the next morning’s post. But that’s why God invented coffee.

Last Thursday night I was writing Friday morning’s post, which was about my ten-year wedding anniversary. In those wee early hours between Thursday and Friday is when I hatched a great idea for a surprise anniversary treat.

I would try and get a cake similar to the one we had on our wedding day.

Luckily I know a good bakery [for the record, this will be the last post I write about Crisan and cake for a while…cupcakes on the other hand are still fair game]. But I have to tell you, it wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped, and it involved some last minute emergency tweeting. It also reveals a level of crazy that I don’t think I’ve yet to share with the class.

Our wedding cake was a summery affair.  It was classic yellow, filled with layers of raspberries and lemon curd, and frosted with butter cream. The morning when I called, Crisan told me they were making among other things, a yellow cake with vanilla butter cream and raspberries.

That was pretty darn close, and I was pumped.

Me: “Any chance you have any lemon curd laying around.”
Them: “Sorry, no.”

And I suppose it’s fair, especially given the very last minute nature of it all. But it was really the lemon curd that made the cake. So I decided this fancy cake would be just the starting point. I’d need to figure out how to make lemon curd too.

I mean… who does that? Who buys a fancy cake from the best bakery in town, and then uses it as a canvas for their own unfulfilled fantasies? I mean, besides the governor’s not-wife.

Now I’ve never made lemon curd before, and when I’m trying a new recipe I really like to do my homework. That means looking a lot of recipes from a bunch of trusted sources, and trying to figure the dish out. From there, I’ll choose one of the recipes and maybe modify it a bit with everything that I’ve gleaned from my research.

But there was no time for this step, so I went with an Alton Brown recipe that I liked mainly because it specified a fluid volume for the lemon juice.

He called for a cup of sugar, five large egg yolks, one-third cup of lemon juice, lemon zest, and one chilled stick of butter. Simple enough. The sugar and egg yolks are whisked in a bowl, then the lemon juice and zest. They are then beaten in a simmering double boiler until they coat the back of a spoon. Finally the chilled butter is whisked in, one piece at a time. Strain, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Easy peasy.

Except for the chilled butter part. I assume part of the problem was using a whisk instead of an electric mixer. But Little Miss Fussy was sleeping, and I didn’t want the electrics to wake her. So instead I whisked my little heart out. My arm was burning, by head was beading with sweat, and after about half a stick of butter, the curd had cooled down to the point of not melting subsequent chilled pats of butter.

This is when panic set in, and this is when I went to the Twitter for help. Help did come, but not as fast as I had hoped. When you are panicked, it never does. Ultimately I just powered through. I started using the side of my mixing bowl and mashing the chilled butter into bits. No, I never got the whole stick in the curd, but I got three-quarters of the way there.

The curd set, and it was delicious. So no harm, no foul.

Not only that, Mrs. Fussy was sufficiently surprised, first by the cake and then by the curd. And the two of them together really did a remarkable job of replicating the taste memory of our wedding cake.

If I do say so myself, the Crisan cake was decidedly better with the addition of the tart curd to balance the sweet vanilla and raspberry. Actually, I don’t have to say so myself, Young Master Fussy said so himself. He was neither a big fan of the curd nor the cake, but when he tried them together, he really enjoyed the combination.

Little Miss Fussy on the other hand was perfectly happy just eating spoonfuls of the curd.

Me, I’m thrilled to be able to pull something like this off in the eleventh hour and still have time to make a semi-homemade dinner that used three different vegetables from the CSA. It really made the anniversary special (and it probably never would have happened if it weren’t for writing this blog).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. A Raf permalink
    June 27, 2011 12:23 pm

    I can’t believe your extensive research didn’t involve calling me and asking for a recipe! Of course I’d probably only have tormented you by telling you how much better it is with Meyer lemons …

  2. Bob W. permalink
    June 27, 2011 1:31 pm

    My only complaint — I wish you had titled the post “Curds and Cakes” so I wouldn’t feel quite so alone with Spinal Tap’s “Cups and Cakes” rattling around in my brain pan.

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