Two weeks ago, my husband’s cousin got married in Gloucester, MA. One of my favorite things about weddings is having mini reunions. For our family, this wedding was no exception. Relatives flew in from California, North Carolina and even Germany. I got to see all of my harabeojis, eemos, and unnis!
Not only was the wedding itself beautiful, it was also great spending time with my husband’s maternal side of the family, the Kims. Over the course of our two-year marriage, I’ve grown incredibly close with my mother-in-law’s family. Although I don’t speak Korean and am a new addition to the family, I always feel at home with the Kim clan.
Since the Kim clan was in town, I was able to squeeze in a baking date with the second youngest in the family, Amy. She made hundreds of sweets for my wedding and did the same for the wedding two weeks ago. On my own wedding day, I didn’t get to try any of Amy’s sweets. This time around, I made sure to try some of the baked goods at the reception. The cupcakes and cheesecakes were breathtaking.
Although I’ve always been a cook, baking has not come naturally to me. Despite the fact that I love sweets, the precision needed for baking generally dissuades me from trying anything too fancy. I stick to brownies and cookies because they don’t need to rise. Lately, I’ve begun to venture out into pies, but until recently, the thought of baking a cake terrified me. There are so many steps that go into making a cake from scratch and so many ways it can go wrong.
I’d been daydreaming of multi-layer cakes but was too scared to try making one on my own. Finally, during the wedding, I had an idea: “What if I asked Amy to bake with me?” To my relief, she agreed to share some of her cake baking expertise.
The week after the wedding, we emailed back and forth discussing potential recipes we could try, and eventually we selected this London Fog Cake recipe by Tessa Huff from Style Sweet CA. You can find the recipe on the Cake Blog (www.thecakeblog.com) and Huff’s book, Layered. Because I wanted to hone my cake decorating skills, we opted for mini cakes instead of a larger cake. The recipe and logistics locked into place, I waited excitedly for our cake bake date.
That Friday, I drove up to my husband’s parents’ house around lunch time. We had a simple lunch together, and the cake odyssey began. Although I was nervous about making the cake batter, we made it quickly and forty minutes later, to my relief, a tall, beautiful cake emerged from the oven.
The London Fog Cake calls for an Earl Grey vanilla bean frosting. And yes, it’s just as dreamy as it sounds. We steeped the Earl Grey leaves in butter, strained them out, and cooled the butter to room temperature. Then we added more butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds to the mixer. The result was heavenly– light and fluffy frosting with undertones of Earl Grey tea.
Now, for our bake date, we also had to cut out the layers to make our mini cakes. We first cut the cake down the middle into two layers using a cake leveler. We then cut out the rounds for the individual layers using a cookie cutter, slicing a few of the thickest rounds in half to make the layers of an even thickness. All of our mini cake layers levelled and cut, we moved on to the decorations!
Decorating the cakes was my favorite part of this whole baking adventure. This took another few hours, and we finished just as the sun was setting. You can tell which cakes are mine and which are Amy’s because Amy’s are the prettier ones. 🙂
Finally, after seven whole hours, we had five beautiful mini cakes and six mini mini cakes that are not pictured because we consumed them immediately after we frosted them. The chocolate cake itself was moist and delicious and it will be my go-to recipe from here on out. I loved the experience of baking a layered cake and definitely plan to try it again on my own this summer. Let me know if you have any recipe suggestions!
London Fog Mini Cakes
Yields: Five tree-layer cakes and six 2” by 2” cakes
Baking Time: 40-45 minutes
Prep Time: 3 hours (depending on decorating)
Recipe: Found in the Cake Blog.
Tips: Cool the cake first to make frosting it easier. Choose the prettiest layers and set them aside if you want to make any “naked” cakes. The caramel sauce tasted like… caramel sauce. When I cook this recipe again I will definitely just buy the caramel sauce to save cooking time.