Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blueberry Cake

I am not an expert cake maker. I may technically be a pastry chef but cakes are not my forte. They are a pain in my butt actually. At work, I dread birthdays and special occasions that require a cake or their named piped in chocolate. But cake means celebration so I better get my pastry chef butt in gear. I need to practice, dammit. I cannot rely soley on my pastry techniques. Most people won't care that I can make a perfect creme anglaise or fold egg whites expertly. The people have spoken and they want cake and they want it to look pretty.

I came across this blueberry frosting recipe from Rachel of Coconut and Lime. She is a fellow foodie from Baltimore (of all places!). The color was so pretty and I happen to have a package of blueberries so I just had to try this recipe. I thought it would pare nicely with the lemon filling.

The frosting was very easy to make, although I could see how it could be intimidating to the newbie baker. Pouring liquid hot sugar down the side of the stand mixer can be quite daunting. You could take a note from Alton Brown and use a metal turkey baster to add the molten sugar but it seems like a superfluous step to me. Also if you don't have a vanilla bean, you can add 1 tsp. of vanilla extract to the egg whites after adding the blueberry syrup.

Image courtesy of Coconut and Lime

Rachel's Blueberry-Vanilla Bean Frosting

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
2/3 cup blueberries
1 vanilla bean, split length wise
pinch salt


Beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks using an electric mixer. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring sugar, vanilla bean, blueberries and water to a boil, stirring occasionally, mashing the berries a bit with the back of your spoon. Continue to boil until it reaches soft ball stage (when a drop of the syrup forms a soft ball when dropped in cool water or 235˚-240˚F if using a candy thermometer) while continuing to stir occasionally.

Whisk the blueberry mixture through a fine sieve into a heat safe measuring cup and discard the blueberries. Keep the mixer running (to be safe use a stand mixer or a friend to complete this next step) and carefully pour a continuous stream of molten syrup into the egg whites. Continue to beat for about 5 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy, glossy and cool. Do not get any syrup on the whisk or it will spread sugar strings throughout your frosting! Frost cooled cupcakes or cake.


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