This was one of the more ambitious baking challenges I took on. None of the steps are difficult, there are just a lot of steps (30 steps). I wouldn't try this recipe unless you have a whole day to spend getting your kitchen dirty. But the results are incredible! The cake is surprisingly moist and light and the flavors are perfect together. The cakes have great presentation and are a wonderful choice for entertaining. If you are going to attempt to make the flowers yourself, add an extra hour to the time.
Serves: approx 25 cakes
Start to Finish: 4 hours 30 minutes (20 minutes is cook time, 140 minutes is cooling time)
Recipe By: Martha Stewart Magazine - Year of Cakes Challenge
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for baking sheet
1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for baking sheet. Cake flour is not the same as all-purpose flour. If you only have all-purpose flour you can make it work by substituting: 1 cup of all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons (1c - 2tbsp) to equal 1 cup of cake flour.
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond paste you should be able to find this in a grocery store; it is packaged like a sausage tube
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cherry preserves, processed in a food processor The cherry preserves are delicious with this recipe. But if cherries aren't your thing you can use any flavor you like, just be sure to get something without seeds.
12 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup whole milk
Pink gel-paste food coloring
Gum paste cherry blossoms I made my own flowers, but if this is a step you want to skip they are available at Wendy Kromer Confections.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter a 12-by-17- inch rimmed cookie sheet, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Hint: if you let the parchment paper hang over the sides of the sheet it will be easier to lift out the cake when it is finished baking. Parchment paper and wax paper are NOT the same thing.
3. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside.
4. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; set aside.
5. Put 3/4 cup sugar and the almond paste into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
6. Mix on medium-low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 2 minutes.
7. Raise speed to medium-high. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
8. Mix in egg yolks and vanilla.
9. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
10. Put egg whites into the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until foamy.
11. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
12. Fold one-third of egg-white mixture into batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.
13. Spread evenly into prepared cookie sheet.
14. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
15. Transfer sheet to wire rack; let cool completely.
16. Unmold; remove parchment.
17. Cut cake in half crosswise. Like you are cutting open a bagel to put spread inside.
18. Spread one half with preserves; top with remaining half.
19. Refrigerate 1 hour. If the cake is not completely cool the frosting will run off the sides.
20. Meanwhile make the sugar glaze:
21. Put sugar into a large bowl.
22. Gradually add milk, whisking until mixture is consistency of heavy cream.
23. Tint with food coloring.
24. Use immediately. If glaze becomes too thick, add more milk; if it becomes too thin, add more sugar.
25. Trim cake, and cut into 1 1/2-inch squares.
26. Transfer to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
27. Pour glaze over each petits four, spreading over top and sides to coat completely. Be warned, this is the most time consuming step in the recipe.
28. Reuse glaze, straining to remove any solids, if needed. I needed to do this step about 5 times
29. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
30. Garnish with blossoms. Cakes can be refrigerated up to 2 days.