SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM
TOASTED SWISS MERINGUE
I was asked to make a spice cake for a birthday in May. A family searched yearly for a spice cake but never had any luck finding this holiday-specific treat in the late spring season. The father was adamant about having a spice cake each year but would be given a carrot cake instead. This was an easy task for me because my cakes are all made to order so every part of the cake can be customized.
What first came to mind was to compliment the cake with rich flavors. this Christmas treat is typically quite indulgent. However, May is when the days start to warm in Boston so rich caramel and dark chocolate seemed less appealing.
I decided to soak an assortment of dried fruits in dark rum. This is very common in Christmas treats and it was a process I was sure the family would appreciate. It involved soaking dried figs, currants, apricots, blueberries, and golden raisins in rum weeks in advance. Each day, the mixture should be stirred. The fruits will plump and the rum is sweetened by the fruit. The sweetened rum would be reserved and used to moisten the cake between the layers.
Now I still didn't want a monotone cake. I mean in terms of flavor, I didn't want every bite to taste the same so I did not mix the prepared fruits in the cake batter. Instead, I created a nutty nougat filling with crushed nuts, caramel, and the fruits. This made the cake more like a candy bar, where the flavors work together, making some bites richer and others more mellow. I paired this with a cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream, which also lighten up the cream cheese.
The family loved the cake and the father was of course was thrilled to be presented a spice cake in May. Sometimes I question the importance of my cakes. With pastries available almost anywhere, it's difficult to understand why a cake should be custom and crafted. This spice cake is a great example of the excitement of custom crafted cakes. It's not just because it's a seasonal item either, this crafted cake would stand out with it's balanced flavors, even during the holidays.