Quick Caramel Custard Croissant Bake

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 18This is yet another one of those I-bought-pastry-on-sale-and-the-Pie-bought-some-at-the-same-time-and-we-didn’t-eat-them-soon-enough-and-they-went-stale-so-what-can-I-do-with-them-rather-than-chucking-them-in-the-compost kind of situations. I’m sure you’re familiar with those. And I HATE throwing food away. I’m very proud of the fact that the Pie and I produce one box of recycling, half a small kitchen bag of garbage (mostly plastic and styrofoam), and two 1L bags of compost (this includes used tissues and meat bones) a week. My luxury is the paper newspaper, which I know I should give up, but I just can’t, and I can always find uses for old newspaper. But I digress. Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 5

Trav was over concocting the most recent SideBar and the Pie was stirring up some of our famous meatballs so I decided to take a moment to chuck some things together. I had 9 stale chocolatines that needed taking care of.

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 2So I buttered up a baking dish and crumbled them in. Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 7

Then I grabbed a small pot and filled it with 1 cup granulated sugar and 4 tablespoons water. I put that on medium high heat and resisted the very real urge to stir it.

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 4Eventually it started to bubble. Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 8

And then turned golden. You can swirl the pot around but avoid stirring.

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 10When it was this lovely caramel colour I removed it from the heat and tipped in, whisking all the while, 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons bourbon (you can use whisky too). Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 11

Don’t freak out when it fizzes up and you feel like it’s going to explode.

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 12Just keep whisking, and when it calms down you’ll have a lovely caramel. Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 13

Beat up 4 eggs.

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 3Then whisk those eggs slowly into your caramel and pour the whole thing over your crusty baked goods. Let that stand for 10 minutes and preheat your oven to 350°F. Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 14

Shove the dish in your oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the egg mix is solid (perhaps slightly less time than I did it as you can see it’s a little more than brown).

Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 17Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream or caramel sauce or chocolate sauce or custard … Caramel Chocolate Custard Bake 19

Some Tarts, of Sorts

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There was a day a couple weeks ago where it was absolutely pouring out and it was a super-depressing, totally un-summery day.

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So I went grocery shopping and found that fresh figs were on sale, as well as some reasonably local strawberries. So of course I bought a whole bunch.

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And then I had to figure out what to do with all this gorgeous fruit.

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But I had some puff pastry and some good ol’ custard-in-a-can. So let’s make a tart — or two!

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So I sliced up all the figs and strawberries, nice and thin, about 1/4″ thick.

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And then I drooled a little bit, because look at all that awesomeness.

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I’ve never baked with canned custard before, so I wasn’t sure if it would solidify after cooking. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to beat one whole egg into the custard for insurance.

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I also spilled a few drops of Grand Marnier orange liqueur in there and it tasted amazing already.

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I created a quick glaze by mixing some honey with some egg white I had sitting in the fridge.

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Then I preheated the oven to 375°F and rolled out my two sheets of pastry onto parchment paper.

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I added a few spoonfuls of my custard mix and smoothed it out with the back of a spoon. Not too much – you don’t want it spilling everywhere once it heats up.

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Then I laid out the fruit. This one was all fig.

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This one I alternated fig and strawberry.

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Then I took a silicone brush and smoothed the egg white glaze over the fruit. I shoved those in the oven, one at a time, for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure the glaze and the custard aren’t burning.

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Let those puppies cool almost completely before cutting them up.

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I still had some glaze and strawberries and custard left, and there was a cup of that delightful rhubarb curd I made earlier. What should I do?

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I decided to whip together a wee bit of shortbread (butter, sugar, flour), which I pressed into a pan and baked at 375°F for 15 minutes.

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Then I mixed that gorgeous curd into the custard I had left over.

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Poured it into the pan on top of the shortbread.

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Then lined it with the strawberry slices.

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Glazed it with what was leftover.

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And then I baked it for about half an hour. It’s kind of like a rudimentary flan. It was so tasty!

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And so was the tart!

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Egg Nog?

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I love egg nog.  So much so that I wish I could have it all year ’round.  So of course I learned to make my own.  And every time I offer it to people, I try to do it in Denholm Elliott’s voice from (my favourite movie of all time — don’t judge) Trading Places.  He’s just so emphatic.

I know.  I don’t know why I showed you that. I just love egg nog that much. So when I found this recipe on Design*Sponge I knew the time had come. THIS WAS IT.

So first you start by creating an ice bath. That means either filling your sink with water and ice cubes, or a large bowl that will hold your pot. My sink is terrible at retaining water (not my sink, not my problem), so I opted for a heat-proof bowl.

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Then grab a medium-sized pot and crack in 6 whole eggs. Give those a thorough whisking.

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Pour in as well 2 cups whole milk (we call it homogenized here in the Great White North), 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

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Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the custard (because that’s what it is) thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Resist the urge to speed things up by turning up the heat. That’s how you get scrambled eggs plus milk. Not cool.

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Plop the pot into the ice bath. Add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and whisk the whole shebang for about 3 or 4 minutes.

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Put the lid on the pot, haul it out of the ice bath, and let it come to room temperature, about an hour (I had some errands to run so I actually put mine in the fridge for about four hours and it was fine as well).

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Next, strain the egg solids (those lumpy bits) out of your custard by pouring it through a sieve over a bowl.

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You can throw these out. Or compost them like a good citizen.

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Now whisk in your booze***. The original recipe calls for brandy or rum plus bourbon, but the Pie and I are not bourbon fanatics like Trav, so we opted for 1/2 cup rum plus 1/2 cup maple whisky.

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Whisk that whisky right in there.

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Might as well add a few dashes of grated nutmeg as well.

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Now pour 1 cup whipping cream into a bowl and beat the crap out of it until it forms stiff peaks.

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Then fold that gorgeousness into your eggnog.

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Let your eggnog chill for a couple of hours before drinking. It’s like drinking whipped cream, essentially. I personally don’t think the recipe would be that good without the alcohol to kind of dilute it, so if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic version, this is probably not it.

*** That said, however, if you want to try this particular recipe without the booze, this is what I recommend: instead of adding 1 cup booze, add 1 cup whole milk, and then when it gets to the final 1 cup whipping cream, just add it in without whipping. Then the whole thing is much less solid and easier to drink on its own.

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Vanilla Bean Custard

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Believe it or not, I still have some egg yolks to deal with.  And I love pudding.  And hopefully this won’t turn out like it did last time.  But this recipe looks pretty simple and I’m sure I can handle it.  Fingers crossed.

First we’re going to infuse our milk.  In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream.

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Take a vanilla bean and split it in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.

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Use the back of the knife to scrape the little seeds into your milk pan.  Dump the empty bean pod in there as well.

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Cook your milk on medium heat for about 5 minutes until hot and steamy.  Make sure to stir often, and do not allow it to boil.  Remove it from the heat when it’s ready to go and carefully remove the vanilla bean pod.

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In a heatproof bowl, whisk together 4 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon corn starch, and 1/3 cup superfine (caster) sugar (you can make caster sugar from granulated sugar by whazzing it in a grinder or food processor for a few seconds).

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Whisking the whole time, drizzle the hot milk over the egg mixture.  You want to add it a little bit at a time so the yolks are heated up gradually and don’t have an opportunity to curdle.

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Return the whole mixture to the saucepan and heat it up once again to medium.  Stir constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.  Don’t allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle and that will be a mess.

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Remove from the heat.  You can serve this warm as a sauce on top of stuff, or cold as a pudding.  Your choice!

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Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream

Happy Birthday Caity!  Welcome to thirty!

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I swear that this is not poo.

I don’t know if you know this, but the original plan, eight years ago now, was that Stef and I were going to set up Cait with the Pie.  They’re both complete computer nerds, skinny jerks, and their birthdays are only four days apart.  What could possibly go wrong?  Needless to say, it didn’t happen, to everyone’s relief.  Anyway, today Cait turns thirty, and I’m pleased to say that now we have been friends for over half our lives. Pretty heady stuff when you’re a girl who rarely stayed in one place longer than five years growing up.

In continuing the birthday theme, I am going to give you the recipe for the chocolate fudge ice cream you saw in the Pie’s ice cream birthday cake on Monday.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

I took this recipe (and modified it only a tiny bit) from My Lemony Kitchen, and I think it’s tops, even though I am not particularly fond of chocolate ice cream.  It is, however, a very British recipe, and everything is in metric, including the measurements for a substance known as GOLDEN SYRUP.  Fortunately in Newfoundland, where we love everything British, this was easy to find.  This partially inverted refiners syruptastes kind of like molasses, and kind of like corn syrup.

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It’s extremely sweet.  And good for serving with “sweet puds.”  Can any of my UK readers tell me what exactly a PUD is?  I am on tenterhooks to know.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

This is where your handy dandy kitchen scale is very useful.  If you don’t have one, you should get one.  They are always worth it.

So.  Ice cream.  In a pot with a heavy base, pour 300mL whole milk.

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Chop up 100g dark chocolate and scoop up 25g butter and add those to the mix.

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Heat on medium, stirring often, until everything is melted and smooth.

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Measure out 125g sugar and 75g golden syrup.  I weighed the syrup on top of the sugar, so that the whole thing just slid into the pot and I wasn’t left with a sticky mess.  Clever, eh?

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Add the sugars to the pot and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about four minutes.  Then remove the whole thing from the heat and allow it to cool until it’s just warm.

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In a mixing bowl, beat up 4 eggs.  Slowly, stirring the whole time, pour the slightly warm chocolate mixture into the eggs.

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Strain this whole thing into a heatproof bowl or the top of a double-boiler.  You may need to scrape the bottom of the strainer occasionally, as the egg whites are quite membranous.

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Plop the bowl full of chocolate onto a pot of barely simmering water and cook until it thickens and coats the back of your spoon.  Now you have custard.

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Something caught fire under my burner at this point, but I like to believe that the delicious smoky taste to my chocolate ice cream was not accidental.

Remove the chocolate custard from the heat and stir in 300mL heavy or whipping cream.

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I also added in a few tablespoons of crème de cacao as a softener.  You’ll note that the packing tape was still on the lid from when we moved in four years ago.  It’s not a popular liqueur in this house.

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Allow your mixture to cool completely and store it in the fridge overnight.

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Then churn it in your ice cream maker according to the machine’s instructions and then do with it what you will.

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I smoothed mine into an ice cream cake but I bet it would be great by itself, or maybe with some fudge sauce …

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

A Trifle Too Much

When I made Chel and Invis’ ivy vanilla wedding cake, I ended up with a lot of leftover ingredients.

For one thing, I had an enormous amount of actual cake itself, left from when I cut the rounded tops off the tiers.  I had enough to create a whole other cake if I so desired.  I had 12 egg yolks left from separating the whites.  And I bought wayyy too much whipping cream.

I don’t know about you, but that screams TRIFLE to me.  A LOT of trifle.  So I sent out an email to ten of my nearest and dearest:

You guys busy Sunday night?

I have leftover bits from the wedding cake and too much whipping cream and a bunch of yolks waiting to be made into custard, so I was thinking I’d make a trifle. 

HOWEVER,

I can’t make said trifle unless I have plenty of people to eat it, because it’s going to be huge.  Spouses and significant others are welcome.

Bell central, 8PMish, SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY?

a

Stef wrote back not five minutes later:

TRIFLE I LOVE TRIFLE. You absolutely will not need to worry about the number of attendees required for consumption. I think I have a special funnel/hose device specifically designed for consuming trifle. When I was a child, Dad would park outside events at the church and we’d decide to go in based on how many different trifles I could smell. I can tell you exactly how tipsy a tipsy trifle is from 40 yards (+/- 10 proof). I suspect trifle is responsible for any love of jesus I may have; during my churchgoing days as much of 17% of my body weight was derived from eating trifles on feast days, high holies, birthdays, vestry meetings, and Sundays.

After that, it was easy to get a “yes” from every invitee, even if some of them didn’t know what trifle was.  Kristopf and his lady friend even said they would show up “a trifle early.”  Ha.

If you don’t know what trifle is, just click the Wikipedia hyperlink above where I talk about screaming trifle.  Because it’s a British invention, I figured I should go to the BBC website for a real proper custard recipe.  I modified it, of course.

So I have my 12 egg yolks.  The recipe calls for 8 but this makes it extra custard-y.  Add to that 2oz granulated sugar and 4 teaspoons corn starch.Whisk that silly.  Leave it to come to room temperature.In a large saucepan, bring a large amount of dairy product (1250mL) to a simmer on low heat.  I used half whipping cream and half milk.Pour that hot milk into your yolks, a little at a time, whisking all the while.  You don’t want the yolks to curdle or cook, so this is why it’s crucial that they are warmed up gradually.Pour that back into the pot and bring to a simmer again, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened.  Then you can remove that from the heat and allow it to cool completely.While that’s cooling, you can prepare your other ingredients.  Here I washed and sliced 2 pints each fresh raspberries and strawberries.I also had to improvise a trifle bowl, because my mother doesn’t own one either.  These jars, however, will do.  They used to hold battery acid.  Now they house random collections of sea-related items.  Don’t worry, I washed the jar first.When your custard is cool, get everything else you need handy.  I whipped up 500mL whipping cream, adding a bit of sugar and some maple extract.  I pulled down the brandy from the liquor cabinet.  Trifle is traditionally made with sweet sherry but we were out.  I also heated up a 750mL jar of raspberry jam in the microwave until it was nice and runny.

Now we begin.

Start by crumbling a layer of your cake in the bottom of your bowl (or jar).  Traditional trifle uses sponge cake, but slightly stale wedding cake tops work just peachy.

Drizzle about an ounce of brandy over that.  You can use juice or soda instead of booze, but you need liquid to make the cake mushy.  Mushy is key.

Then some jam.

Then custard, whipped cream, and fruit.

Repeat that again.

And again.  Make sure to use all your ingredients.  No need to measure.  Top with extra fruit.

Look at those lovely layers.

Chill that in the refrigerator for a few hours until your trifle party arrives.

Shall we trifle?  As you can see, Stef was first at the jar.  And last.

Let’s trifle with some trifle.

And there was absolutely NONE left when we were done.

 

 

 

Raspberry Trifle Cake

Ten days ago (that would be 8 March 2011) was a very auspicious day.  It was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (go us!), and it was also Pancake Tuesday/Mardi Gras.  AND.  And.  It was my birthday.  I turned TWENTY-NINE.  Holy smokes.  That’s a prime number.

In honour of the occasion (and because I need to perfect my fondant for Chel‘s wedding cake in June), I made my own birthday cake.

This is very loosely based on a cupcake the Pie and I made for our own wedding back in August 2009.  The cupcake itself came from Susannah Blake’s Cupcake Heaven, but I think I’ve sufficiently changed this so I can call this recipe all my own.

Some of this stuff you can do ahead of time, like the fondant and the buttercream icing, and just put them in the fridge until you need them.

For the Cake:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter two 8″ round baking pans.  Line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper and butter those too.
Beat together 1 cup butter, softened, and 1 cup granulated sugar, until pale and fluffy.
Add in 4 eggs, one at a time, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Sift in 2 cups self-rising flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder) and fold it in.
Fold in 2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed and drained.  Save about half a cup of the juice you’ve drained off for your icing.  You could use fresh raspberries if you’ve got them but it seems kind of a waste if you’re just squishing them into batter. 
Spoon the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 15 minutes, until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove the pans to racks to cool completely.

For the Fondant:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip together 3 teaspoons vanilla, 1 cup butter, softened but not melted, and 1 cup corn syrup.  If you want your fondant to be white, use the light corn syrup, as the dark stuff I used gave the fondant a creamy complexion.

When the mixture is creamy and fluffy, reduce the speed to low and add 1kg icing sugar, a bit at a time.  If you do it all at once, or if you do it on high, you will get a mushroom cloud of icing sugar everywhere.

And it might even get on your dog.

When it is all incorporated, you will have a large doughy mass. 

Tip it out onto some waxed paper and knead it into a ball. If your dough is too tacky you might find that you want to add more icing sugar.  To do this simply dust a work surface with icing sugar and knead it in.

When the dough has reached the consistency that you are happy with (i.e., not sticky, but not so dry that it cracks), then you can colour it.   It helps to wear gloves for this part.

Spread a few drops of food colouring over your dough and knead them in until the colour is uniform. 

It will take a while to get it the colour you want it.

I was aiming for a pale pink but because of the yellowish tinge due to the dark corn syrup it came out more flesh coloured.  Or at least, MY flesh colour.

I pulled off an extra bit of the newly coloured dough here and added extra food colouring so it was a darker pink than the rest. 

I will use this for the decoration part.

When you have kneaded to your satisfaction, wrap the dough tightly in waxed paper and seal it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you need it.

For the Buttercream Icing:

In a stand mixer, whip 2 cups softened butter until pale and fluffy.  

Beat in 2 cups icing sugar until you get soft peaks.

Add in 4 tablespoons raspberry jam.

And that 1/2 cup reserved raspberry juice

Mix well.  It may be slightly grainy, but that’s okay for our purposes.

Plop the icing in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

To Decorate:

Remove the icing and the fondant from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature.

Tip out the cakes and peel off the parchment paper.

Slice off the round top of each cake, if you care about such things.  I didn’t, because I wanted the top to be rounded slightly, and so I flipped one cake upside down and put the two flat sides together.  Cut each cake in half horizontally.

I am spreading raspberry jam here in the centre, with custard on the bottom and top-most layers.  I did not make the jam or the custard myself.  I suppose you could create some form of preserve with fresh raspberries, but at this point I think I’ve done enough. I tried to make custard by hand, but I messed it up twice and that’s my limit on egg-wasting.  I suppose you could use pudding if you like, but I didn’t have any on hand.
So here’s the custard.
And here’s the jam.
Then there’s another custard layer.
Don’t go all the way to the edges, because the cake’s weight will force the filling out and down the sides.

Spread a crumb coat of buttercream on your cake (just a thin layer to trap the crumbs) and place the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until the icing has set.  Remove the cake from the refrigerator and use the remaining buttercream to smooth out the surface.  Chuck it in the refrigerator again until the second layer of icing is set.

While the cake is chilling, roll out your fondant on a surface dusted with icing sugar or corn starch.  You will want to roll it to about 1/4″ thick.  Any thinner and you will be able to see the flaws in the cake through it.  Any thicker and you will have trouble stretching it properly.  Make sure to take off your rings and watches while you do this so you don’t mar the fondant surface.

To determine the surface area you will be covering, measure the height and width of your cake.  You will need to create a round surface of fondant that is a diameter of twice the height plus the width of your cake.

Gently lift the flattened fondant over your rolling pin and use it as a lever to help you lay the fondant over your chilled cake.  I found that approach didn’t work for me, and I had to try several different methods before I found one that worked.  I rolled it out over waxed paper and used the waxed paper to do the transfer.  The only problem is that my waxed paper was too narrow and I had to double it, which resulted in it leaving a line on the fondant.  I will have to find some industrial-width waxed paper for next time.

Using your hands, gently lift and press the fondant into the sides of your cake after smoothing the top.  Don’t pull on the fondant or it will crack — lift instead and flatten out the wrinkles with the palm of your hand.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll see what I mean when you do it.  Notice the strong colour resemblance between my hand hand the fondant?  Yes, I am pale and pasty and spring can’t come soon enough.

Trim off excess fondant at the base of the cake.  Otherwise you will have a cake that resembles a demented jellyfish.  Or some bizarre prehistoric alien life form that may slowly yet inexorably expand, engulfing your family, your house, and then the entire planet.  THE THING THAT TIME FORGOT.

So yeah, you want to trim that sucker.

There are such things as fondant smoothers that you can use to even out the fondant surface.  I didn’t have one, so I used a flat-sided plastic cup.  And that excess icing sugar or corn starch on the surface?  Don’t worry about it.  It will either come off by itself in the course of you smoothing and shaping, or you can wipe it off with a wet finger.It’s far from perfect, but quite impressive for a first attempt, if I do say so myself.

Here I have rolled out the darker fondant onto a sheet of waxed paper and traced on it a design.

Cut out the design with a sharp knife and pull off the excess, leaving the design on the waxed paper.

Lightly brush the top of the fondant pieces with water.

Carefully roll the design on the paper face down on top of the cake and press down lightly.

I took a deep breath after I’d done this.

Even more carefully, peel off the waxed paper, leaving your design on the cake.  Smooth the sharp edges with your fingers.

You can also freehand other elements out of the leftover fondant, as you see I did here.  You can also store the scraps in the fridge in an airtight container, just in case you want them for something else later.

Chill the cake to harden the fondant before serving.  Then eat as much of it as you can handle.

I would definitely recommend storing this cake in the refrigerator and eating it within a few days of making it.