Last fall, when I was in the midst of massive preparations for my daughter’s wedding, Gigi called me with a request. ” I know that you’re REALLY busy right now, and this is still a LONG way away, but I was looking ahead, and our April potluck happens to fall on my 50th birthday.”
It was clear where she was headed with the request—mostly. She continued, ” I love white wedding cake, and since I don’t think that I’ll ever get married, would you make me a white wedding cake for my 50th?”
Without hesitation, I agreed. As time drew near, I checked back with her about the cake. “White cake, white icing, but don’t you want a something else as a filling? Strawberry? Lemon?”
She shook her head. “No, just vanilla. White White White. Give this sugar junkie her fix.”
“Okay,” I said. But it stuck in my mind that the cake might need something else Defining. Oh, I would make her white-white cake, Ã la wedding, but this was, after all, her significant Zero Birthday. This called for something all its own. I would just have to wait and see what might inspire me.
There are numerous recipes for white wedding cake, which gets its color and oomph from copious egg whites. In some recipes, they are whipped separately, and folded into the batter. The recipe that I used eliminates that step. It comes off the box of King Arthur Cake Flour, where the egg whites are simply beaten into the batter.
Cake flour is key to this cake—its soft fine grain builds a lovely texture. I also pulsed my sugar in the food processor to make the crystals more like the “superfine” sugar that the recipe recommends. Aerating the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl before adding softened butter is another important procedure in insuring a good structure to the crumb.
When it came time for me to assemble the cake, I found a very large, very ripe mango in that back of my produce bin. Ah–mango puree for filling in this white wedding cake, a glisten of yellow-orange glaze, that line of tropical tang running alongside vanilla cream. Yes!
This was the inspiration that I was seeking, the defining ingredient to Gigi’s special birthday non-wedding wedding cake. Gigi, I’m happy to report, agreed.
Who knows that she’ll never get married? To say Never just limits the possibilities of the universe.
As they say, Never say never.
WHITE BUTTER CAKE adapted from King Arthur Flour
5 1/2 cups Unbleached Cake Flour
3 1/3 cups Sugar: superfine is best (can make it finer in the food processor)
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
3 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
8 Egg Whites, 2 whole Eggs
1 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1 cup Cream
4 teaspoons Vanilla
2 teaspoons Almond Extract
2 10″ cake pans, greased and lined with parchment
Place flour into mixing bowl and mix on low speed to aerate. If using regular sugar, put it in the food processor fitted with the swivel blade and process for 2 minutes, to make the crystals finer.
Add fine sugar, baking powder and salt to the flour and mix well.
Beat in soft butter, then egg whites, then eggs, scraping the sides well between additions, to build the cake’s structure. Continue the process, adding yogurt, then cream, then extracts.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans and place in preheated 350 degree oven.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool before splitting the layers to fill and frost.
Makes 2 10″ rounds, that can be split, making a grand 4 layer cake.
Note: Cut the recipe in half to make 2 8″ or 2 9″ rounds, or one 9″x13″ sheetcake.
1 lb. Unsalted Butter, softened
1 lb. Cream Cheese, softened
2 T. Vanilla (or more, to taste)
2 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar
Using a stand (or electric) mixer, cream butter. Slowly add pieces of soft cream cheese, creaming it smoothly into the butter. Mix in vanilla, then confectioners sugar. Taste for sweetness, and vanilla, and add a tetch more, to your taste.
MANGO FILLING AND GLAZE
1 large, very ripe Mango
1 cup Water
1 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar
1 Lemon, for juice
Peel the ripe mango and cut into pieces, placing them, (and the juices!) into a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water, and 1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook until mango pulp becomes dissolved, and incorporated into the liquid. Add lemon juice. Simmer until somewhat thick and glazy. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and allow to cool.
Gigi and her birthday cakes