This is not the cake I'm talking about in the post below, but I did borrow the 'Tomboy' style to see how it translated to a single layer. I like it! And that's a whole pack of butter in the icing by the way.
There's a bakery in San Francisco called 'Miette'. I know that this will not be news to most; it's a rather famed institution locally and getting well known internationally as well, thanks to mentions online and the publishing of a book of recipes from the bakery.
Needless to say, when we arrived in SF on the final leg of our honeymoon (or: 'How much can Pete and Perce squeeze into 10 days?!'), it was with great excitement, knowing that I was going to get to try one of Miette's coconut mousse bars that I had been dreaming about since learning of their existence. And also, let's be honest, happiness that we were going to be staying in a proper hotel again, having spent several nights staying in the kind of motels that have rooms opening right out onto the forecourt and remind you of those awful American murder films where the perpetrators get away with it.
So, Miette: it was lovely. Everything was small, which was nice, since in Santa Cruz I had been shocked almost speechless by the sight of seven layer cakes. Who can manage seven layers? Even I would shrink from the challenge.
The thing I loved most was the 'Tomboy', Miette's signature cake. It isn't a recipe as such, more a style of frosting. I have attempted to recreate it in this post. We're talking nude sides (shock!) and piped edges (fancy!), with a smooth finish (edgy!) on the top and a sugar flower garnish (classic!). The over-all effect (when looking at the real thing) is very special. The cakes look simple, fresh and sweet. I have not managed this in my photographs; it was my first time working with classic buttercream, and I have since made this a few times and learned a few tricks in the process. However, you get the idea.
You can have a little internet search to get the recipe for this cake, should you wish. I certainly can't reproduce it here for you now, since I just cannot bring myself to type that much. I'm fighting the jet lag and I have my heart set on the buttercream. I'd certainly recommend Miette's book as well. It has US cup measures, but also imperial weights (no metric, sadly). It's actually littered with mistakes for the weights actually, but comes with an errata to correct it, so the recipes work fine so long as you check them against it. It shouldn't put you off buying it, I think it's a lovely book.
The buttercream however, is worth talking about. I didn't follow Miette's recipe for mousseline. I used an adapted version of one of my beloved Rose Levy-B's. She adds a little lemon juice and uses a slightly different method, which works perfectly, but I can't be bothered with the faff of pouring hot sugar syrup from the pan into a measuring jug to stop it reaching a higher temperature. I also add a little extra butter. I followed her instructions to the letter the first time, and the second made my changes; it still worked, so I'm not going back.
Mr. P's Rule Breaking Strawberry Buttercream
You will need:
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
85g golden syrup
250g butter, cool, but squishable
100g high fruit strawberry jam (I used Bonne Maman)
2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large heatproof bowl, put the egg yolks and beat them on high speed with an electric beater for about a minute, or until slightly thickened.
- Put the sugar and syrup into a small saucepan and stir until all the sugar is moistened. Then place on a medium heat, stirring constantly until the edges of the mixture start to bubble. Stop stirring and remove the spoon or spatula you were using from the mixture.
- Allow the syrup mixture to reach a full rolling boil. This means that you should see large bubbles over the entire surface, including the centre. It shouldn't take long.
- Begin rebeating the yolks again, on medium speed, and immediately pour in half of the syrup. Avoid pouring it directly on the beaters, as it will splash against the side of the bowl. Beat for around 30 seconds then add the remaining syrup in the same way. This time beat the egg yolk mixture until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. That will take maybe 10 minutes or so.
- Add the butter gradually, on medium speed. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the jam and vanilla and beat until smooth. You now have lovely strawberry buttercream.