Taking on the Unthinkable: Part 2

Well, as you can see from the picture, taking on the unthinkable turned out to be fairly doable in the end. Saturday was a long day (8 hours just for the cake!), and I had to change my game plan several times, but I finished the cake.

Now, about this cake. You have to go bake this. It's not difficult to make - a little more expensive than your typical vanilla celebration cake, and certainly more labor intensive than Betty Crocker's mixes, but everything goes smoothly and turns out as the recipe says it should. Also, I'm sure that it would not take most people 8 hours to make this (though, be warned that there are several different chill times ranging from one to four hours).

The Vanilla Cake is my new go-to layer cake. It comes together easily, requires no fussy ingredients, baked for 10 minutes less than called for (though, to be fair, I had to use 8x1 1/2" pans instead of 8x3"), came out moist, didn't stick to the pan (very much), and did not dry out during the nerve-wracking several hour chill periods in the refrigerator. The vanilla cake was such a treat to work with, and had a distinctly homemade - but deliciously so - taste to it that it made me call into question why I would ever eat a prepared cake again.

The Raspberry Curd came out to be this stunning dusk rose color, and I really think the only other thing that needs to be said about this is that it is the product of real, fresh raspberries. Puree them, strain them, and simmer them alongside sugar and lemon juice. Add butter. Taste. Understand why, despite halving the cake recipe, I am thrilled to have so much extra raspberry curd. A dip for fresh fruit? A yogurt mix-in? A near-future baking ingredient? Yes, yes, and yes. The raspberry flavor is sweet but not too sweet, and tart but not too tart. The consistency is heavenly.

The Chocolate Ganache is what all chocolate ganaches should be: rich, creamy, and decadent, and forgiving. I say this as though I'm a ganache expert and this was, of course, my first attempt at making one myself and only one of several experiences tasting it. So, maybe it's more accurate to say that this chocolate ganache is what I would imagine all chocolate ganaches should be, because I can't really think of how it could have been better. I blended 100% chocolate with 60%, added heavy cream, and omitted the vanilla bean because, let's face it, I'm not splurging for one measly bean (I simply added 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract instead). However, if you have some lying around, I'm sure the vanilla bean would add another layer of depth to an already wonderful layer.

The White Chocolate Buttercream is what makes this layer cake. I am picky about my buttercreams - homemade, that is (as in, sans shortening, which makes my stomach turn). I don't want to bite into cake and feel as though the icing is a pureed stick of butter, which I have experienced before. This buttercream recipe? Perfection. A little pricey because of the addition of a chocolate bar, and consequently/potentially impractical for everyday use, but whip this baby out when it matters, because people notice. People who don't even usually like the icing on cakes very much notice, and love it. The white chocolate adds such a gentle sophistication to it, and really cuts the butter nicely. For as many compliments as I receive on the cake as a whole, I received a separate comment just on the frosting.

I don't want to take up any more space with the actual recipe, as I followed it (almost) to a T. I cut the cake recipe in half to make a three layer instead of a six layer cake, swapped the vanilla bean for an extra 1/2 tsp. extract in the ganache, and found that I only needed 2 cups of powdered sugar to get the buttercream to the right consistency (but added more later on - one teaspoon at a time - to pipe on the accents, since I had to refrigerate the icing between decorating sessions). So, instead of repeating word for word what this wonderful blogger said, I will simply direct you here. Also, her decorations wound up being extraordinarily more impressive than mine - and rightly so, based on our respective levels of experience and skill.

In the end, I have to recommend this recipe with all of my being. I have the testimonials of all of the party guests, many of whom do not love cake to begin with, to prove how fantastic this recipe is, and how close it comes to perfection. I don't really know who Evil Shenanigans is, and I found her blog via foodbuzz as opposed to being an avid follower of it - but after testing out this cake, I can assure you that you'll be seeing my versions of or attempts at many more of her recipes in the (very near) future.

Watch out for my posts on how the Black Forest Cupcakes and Spring Vegetable Pizza went!

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