Feb. 20, 2009 4:08 pm
Updated: Mar. 27, 2009 6:33 pm
I made a cake for a friend this weekend: an almond cake layered with raspberry curd and raspberry buttercream. I think fruit curds make a much nicer filling than jams, which I find to be too sticky and sweet.
My favorite cake frosting is an Italian meringue buttercream, which tastes light but feels rich on the tongue and isn't nearly as sweet as most frostings. It's also easy to customize by adding cooled melted chocolate, peanut butter, Nutella, liqueurs, and fruit purees. I added raspberry curd to vanilla buttercream to make a lovely pink raspberry-flavored frosting.
The recipe I used is similar to the Easiest, Most Delicious Meringue Buttercream recipe. You really need a stand mixer to make buttercream (this is where I go off on my Ode to Kitchenaid®). You need your hands free in order to carefully pour hot sugar syrup into whipping meringue, plus the mixture needs to cool for at least five minutes. Once the hot meringue mixture has cooled down to room temperature, you can begin dropping in pieces of room temperature butter, letting each piece become fully incorporated before adding more. (This is the step that freaks people out until they're used to working with buttercream: the volume drops, the mixture looks curdled, and the whole thing looks like a mess. As my cakes instructor put it, it has to go through its "ugly adolescent phase" before it smoothes out again and gets a nice "Fluffernutter®" consistency.)
I added a little more than a half a cup of raspberry curd to about two cups' worth of vanilla buttercream. You have to be careful when adding flavorings to buttercream because the emulsion can only handle so much liquid before starting to break down.
I spread a thin layer of frosting over my bottom cake layer (soaked with an almond simple syrup) to seal it, and then piped a ring of frosting around the edge to keep the raspberry curd from oozing out the sides. I then added a second layer of cake soaked with syrup, a layer of buttercream, and the top layer of cake. To contain the crumbs, I masked the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and chilled it until it was firm, and then frosted it with a generous layer of buttercream. I garnished the bottom edge with toasted sliced almonds, which looked pretty and also let people know it was an almond-flavored cake. If raspberries were in season, I would've garnished the top with a few fresh raspberries as well.
Adding raspberry curd
Spreading raspberry curd layer
Adding garnish - press almonds along the bottom edge of the cake.
Toasted almond garnish