Interstellar Cake

Earl grey german buttercream gold leaf lemon curdThere’s nothing I like better than inserting myself into someone else’s special event.  But I have a pretty good excuse.  As an extrovert who is also unfortunately awkward socially, I love going to parties but struggle to enjoy myself because half the time I can’t hear the other person over the voice in my head going, “You’re talking about yourself again.  Is her name Heather or Michelle?  You should have worn the other earrings.”  I just recently figured out that I do much better at social events if I have a job, task or role.  Then as long as I’m taking the coats or washing the dishes or whatever, I can make conversation without feeling like a total dummy.

Earl grey german buttercream gold leaf lemon curdSo if you invite me to a party, you can bet I’m going to volunteer to bake!  And this spring, my lovely friend Elaine is getting married and she’s agreed to let me bake a cake for her and her husband-to-be to cut.  Hooray!  So now instead of trying to figure out how to be a good listener, remember people’s names and perfectly accessorize, I’m going to be making a (hopefully) exquisite and occasion-appropriate cake.  Win-win!

Earl grey german buttercream gold leaf lemon curdElaine is very chill and gave me free reign, which initially sounded like a dream come true but It turns out that my ADD brain doesn’t do well with free reign.  In the space of a week, I had made sketches of like 10 cakes. One was a black and gold swan-themed that required 3D-printing some molds and stencils, one had geodes made of rock candy on it (decided against that because the geode cakes I saw on google had a distinctly anatomical vibe), one involved hand painting portraits of the couple in a 70’s style inspired by Free To Be You and Me (I do not know how to paint).  Gah!  So.  Many. Ideas.  I finally decided I was going to order some fancy edible gold leaf and mess around with it.  I had also ordered some giant gold sprinkles with no clue how I was going to use them.  So I decided to just throw some cake layers in the oven and try to cook something up with what I had on hand.  That’s my kind of baking!

Earl grey german buttercream gold leaf lemon curdFirst step, box of yellow cake mix because for some reason I will do an insane amount of work to create perfect frostings, etc. but get real resentful when I have to make a cake from scratch.  You gotta draw the line somewhere.  For the frosting I decided to make a custard-based buttercream called German Buttercream.  I especially love this version, which adds some earl grey and mascarpone.  I just made a half batch since I decided to fill the layers with some lemon curd I had in the freezer.  I also had some earl grey meringues left over from my bumper crop of meringues from last week.  Score!  I got the gold leaf on there.  Actually I got most of it stuck to my fingers, apparently you’re not supposed to touch it.

And this is what I ended up with.  A cake that looks like the moon, or concrete, or some kind of spaceship that got transmogrified into a cake.  Do you guys know about the starchips they’re hoping to send to Alpha Centauri?  This is a cake version of that I guess.  For Elaine, I think I’ll plan to go bolder and brighter with the color scheme, but at least now I know I can come up with something I like on the fly.  I’m much better improvising in the kitchen than I am in conversation so if you overhear me at the wedding droning on and on about Alpha Centauri and Dyson spheres (I am a full-on nerd burger), please help a girl out and give me something useful to do.




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