Celebration!!

Petit Champagne Layer Cakes

So these little beauties have a story behind them. Actually, they have two. First is the “why” and the second, the “how”.

As for the why, it started roughly ten months ago when Mark began the application process for a hematology/oncology fellowship. Approximately a dozen drafts of his personal statement, a few stacks of letters and paperwork, and a little agony over lists of various programs later, we were somewhere in the middle of August. Waiting. Waiting each day to hear about interviews. For those of you who have sat in front of a jack-in-the-box slowly turning the lever and wincing, you know what living with the possibility that the morning sun might bring either a new interview or a new rejection was like.

Meringue

September rolled around and the victory dances over the handful of interviews acquired were short as we quickly realized that they were, in fact, interviews. Everyone has been through an interview. It’s something akin to bungee jumping in a rough woolen unitard. And each of these consisted of anywhere from 7 to 12 mini-interviews. Imagine speed-dating, without the booze.

At last, done with that painful phase, we had nothing to do but wait. And conjecture. And go back through the personal statements and the paperwork and the programs and the interviews in exacting detail in our minds. For two months. I have sat through some tense fourth quarters of Cowboys’ games, breath held, score tied, and a hail mary in the air. This fourth quarter had lasted for almost a year.

But holy Christmas cheer, Batman, that hail mary found its target! Mark got matched at MUSC and in June we will be packing up our kitchen once again and moving it across the country to Charleston, SC!

Cake-Batter-in-Pan

So, clearly, champagne was in order, but after the first bottle I wanted to do something a little different. More celebration? Yes! Cupcakes? Of course!

Except that I noticed several of you apparently already had your own celebrations and beat me to that particular punch. The interwebs have seen enough champagne cupcakes for a lifetime of victories, so we took the idea a little further. A little more festive. A little more glitz.

Sugared-Cakes

In consideration of champagne itself, two words come to mind: “luxury” and “effervescent”. Well, carbonating a cake strikes me as both impossible and, more importantly, quite undesirable. So I translated effervescent to light, a seeming weightlessness. Nothing would do besides angel food cake (which as it turns out, is a bit of a trick when you want it flavored with champagne).

And then let’s bring in the glitz by making these into show-stopping miniature towers of the airiest of cakes and luxurious champagne-tinged swiss meringue buttercream frosting! And let’s coat it with sugar crystals for sparkle!

Cake-and-Frosting

Somewhere around this house is the to-do list of what needs to get done before we move in June. I will find it at some point and start it. But for now, we just celebrate.

Petit Champagne Layer Cakes
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
Angel Food Cake
  • (The recipe my grandfather always made us for birthdays + champagne)
  • Ingredients:
  • 128 g (1 C) Cake Flour
  • 180 g (1 ½ C) Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 ½ C Egg Whites (approximately 10-11 Large)
  • 1 ½ tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 200 g (1 C) Granulate Sugar + more for coating pan
  • ¼ C Champagne
  • 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 T Unrefined Coconut Oil, melted (for coating pan)
  • Special Equipment: Popover Pan
  • Champagne Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • Ingredients:
  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 350 g Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Cream of Tartar
  • ½ T Vanilla Extract
  • 4 sticks of butter, softened
  • ½ C Champagne
  • Fill a small saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Rest the metal bowl from a stand mixer on top of the saucepan, making sure the bottom does not touch the water. In the bowl beat the egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating as the mixture heats over the simmering water. When egg white mixture reaches 120 degrees, remove from heat and place bowl into the stand mixture fitting with whisk attachment. Beat until stiff peaks form, and meringue is glossy. Let meringue cool completely.
  • Once cool, begin beating mixture on medium high setting and vanilla and then butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat for a few more minutes until butter is completely incorporated and frosting begins to firm up slightly. Carefully pour in champagne in a thin stream while beater is going. Once champagne is fully incorporated scrape down bowl with spatula and continue to beat frosting until fluffy, but firm.
  • Assembly
  • Using a piece of floss, cut each cake into three equal layers (how do I cut cake with floss?). Using a pastry bag with ¼ inch tip, frost each layer, top with a bright red strawberry, pour a glass of that champagne you have left over on the counter and have a toast.
Instructions
Petit Champagne Cakes
  1. Grease popover pan with unrefined coconut oil (regular will work in a pinch).
  2. Coat with granulated sugar by placing a small spoonful in the bottom of each popover cup and then rotating pan around until all sides of each cup are coated.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Sift flour and confectioner’s sugar together three times for best texture.
  5. Combine egg whites, cream of tartar and salt and beat until foamy.
  6. Very gradually add in granulated sugar, beating with hand mixer or stand mixer until meringue holds stiff peaks.
  7. In a small sauce pan, boil down champagne to ½ tsp.
  8. Let cool and gently fold in meringue along with vanilla.
  9. Sprinkle the flour/sugar mixture over meringue and fold just until well combined. Using a heaping ¼ C measure portion the batter into popover pan. Cups should be approximately ⅞ full.
  10. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  11. Turn popover pan upside down onto cooling rack and leave alone until completely cool.
  12. Using a toothpick, gently release any part of cake stuck to inside of cup and pull cake out with a fork.
Campagne Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Fill a small saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Rest the metal bowl from a stand mixer on top of the saucepan, making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
  3. In the bowl beat the egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating as the mixture heats over the simmering water.
  4. When egg white mixture reaches 120 degrees, remove from heat and place bowl into the stand mixture with whisk attachment.
  5. Beat until stiff peaks form, and meringue is glossy. Let meringue cool completely.
  6. Once cool, begin beating mixture on medium high setting
  7. Add vanilla and then butter, one tablespoon at a time.
  8. Beat for a few more minutes until butter is completely incorporated and frosting begins to firm up slightly.
  9. Carefully pour in champagne in a thin stream while beater is going. Once champagne is fully incorporated scrape down bowl with spatula and continue to beat frosting until fluffy, but firm.
Assembly
  1. Using a piece of floss, cut each cake into three equal layers (how do I cut cake with floss?) Using a pastry bag with ¼ inch tip, frost each layer, top with a bright red strawberry, pour a glass of that champagne you have left over on the counter and have a toast.

 

  3Comments

  1. Jerry Johnson   •  

    These look amazing!!! Pa would be proud!!

  2. Gretchen Olberding   •  

    As a displaying artist at the Glendale Gallery Opening, I had the culinary pleasure of tasting your fabulous foods firsthand. Since then I have followed your witty, inspirational, and delightful blog of your wonderful foods. Thank you for being willing to share your recipes.

    I wish you the best in your new adventures to South Carolina and want to congratulate Mark on his acceptance into MUSC. I will continue to follow you and your family and hope you continue to write and make my world happier.

    • Sarah | Pickled Capers   •     Author

      Thank you so much Gretchen! We will certainly continue the blog and share all of the hijinks we manage to get ourselves into all the way across the country.

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