Funny how cooking over the holidays usually pushes us to extremes. Either we put together a multi-course meal for twelve distant relatives, or we throw up our hands and say, "eat leftovers" or "let's order Thai." Even if it's only your nearest and dearest, many of us (myself included) feel that we should make a special effort for the big holidays—drag out grandmother's china and real cloth napkins, roast a (fill in the blank), bake cookies and bread. I persuaded my husband to bake a ham for Christmas this year (that was his family's tradition; mine preferred turkey or roast beef), so I volunteered to make dessert.
|Here's the supermarket model|
|"too much time on her hands, eh?"|
you're saying about now
By now you are thinking, was she insane? Ah, 'tis the season for insanity. I crafted a make-shift cake pan, I figured out the right measurements for the ingredients, and I was off to the races.
Once I had actually managed to bake the cake, I was faced with making the pieces of cake match up so I could achieve the right checkerboard pattern. My biggest fear was that I would shave so much off to make it perfect that the final cake would end up about two inches across (in that event I planned to call it petit fours. So I sacrificed precision, just a bit. As a whole, it worked—and it tasted good.
So if you're ever in the mood to make a simple complicated cake, here's the recipe (translated from the English):
2/3 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (room temperature). beaten
2 Tblsp whole milk (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or a mix of vanilla and almond)
1¼ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Pink or red food coloring
½ cup seedless jam (apricot or raspberry)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking pan or pans with foil and brush with melted butter.
Trim the cakes to equal size, then cut in two lengthwise. Take one pink piece and one white piece and "glue" them together with the jam. Repeat with the second pair. Paint the top of the joined pieces with jam, and "glue" on the second pair.
Roll out your marzipan (one recipe called for a single 7-oz. package, which is what you see most often in stores, but I wasn't sure how far it would go so I used two). Paint the outside of your joined cake pieces with the rest of the jam, then wrap it in marzipan. Stick the edges together on the bottom with a bit of jam. (If you like, you can press interesting patterns onto the marzipan with whatever tool you want.)
Trim off the raggedy ends. Wrap in Saran wrap and chill for at least half an hour (overnight is fine).
To serve, slice carefully with a sharp knife.
Coming February 2013, the first in my new County Cork Mystery series.