Younger niece picked this cake for her birthday cake back in January, which due to the usual stretched out treatment of her holiday-time birthday, got made on a weekend not in conjunction with a party, family birthday dinner, or other celebration. Not a problem....I think the cake was enough. I didn't manage to finish off a blog post on it until now, for the free-choice week of the Heavenly Cakes bake-along.
This cake falls into the 'elaborate' category--not up to wedding cake status, but the recipe has lots of parts and takes time. It is, however, worth it, something I'm not quite willing to say about the similar efforts required for True Orange Génoise. I made the White Gold Passion first, and perhaps the True Orange suffered in comparison.
The first challenge was the génoise, still pretty new to me. I made browned butter, which had a wonderful smell and flavor straight up, but ultimately was undetectable to my taste buds in the final product. Since it takes the same amount of effort I browned enough for 2 cakes, looking ahead a couple of weeks (at that point) to the True Orange Génoise--and again, I don't think I could have told one made with browned butter from one with regular, once the syrup, curd, and frosting was in place.
On the génoise itself, as I think I reported when writing up the True Orange, I had problems getting the height on the cake that Rose mentioned. On my first attempt, I beat the egg mixture 5 minutes (minimum time), and stopped when it seemed I was not getting any additional height on the eggs. As I knew the True Orange Genoise wanted this same cake, I made a second attempt the next night. That one came out little better, despite interrupting the egg-beating early on to let the (forgotten) oven heat up. Neither cake reached 2" though--perhaps a little over 1" on the first one, and 1-1/2" on number 2. The taller génoise went in to the White Gold Passion, and the shorter got frozen and became the True Orange cake.
Next up was the making of a passion-fruit curd, which presented no problems once I'd found frozen passion-fruit purée. I decided to look first at the Buford Highway Farmer's Market, a very large international market that is, unfortunately, somewhat disorganized. Well not that, really--but the aisles are organized by ethnicity, and the same product, or different brands, might be in multiple places. Passion-fruit puree, it turned out, was in with Mexican foods and in what might have been other Central American or maybe Caribbean (only a few areas have a country label). After all that, I spotted the same stuff at my regular (also multicultural--I live in a county with a very diverse population) Your DeKalb Farmer's Market. Defrosted, the puree is very thin--it's not a concentrate like Marie used.
Passion fruit is quite tasty, and makes a wonderful curd. Yes, the sour orange curd was very good, too, but I think I'll go back to passion fruit.
Same goes for the syrup, where I struggled a little with a real vanilla bean versus my usual extract, but considered the extra flavor worth it.
The last component was the frosting, a white chocolate-cream cheese buttercream. The white chocolate custard base took forever to cook--I suspect I'm too cautious with the heat and should have gone for a full simmer under my double boiler. Once the custard was done and cool, the rest was a snap--beating butter and cream cheese, then adding the custard and beating some more. No added sugar, as the white chocolate has plenty.
Finally, all components done, the cake came together. HCBs that did the True Orange have used the same technique. Split the cake, brush syrup on both sides of each piece. I was using a cookie sheet and a Wilton cake lifter to move the fragile syrup-soaked layers around, and managed to not break or drop them. One layer went down on the cake plate, I spread on the lovely passion-fruit curd, put the second layer on top, and frosted with buttercream. I reserved almost a cup of frosting because the cake was smaller than expected, and that was a good decision--the frosting layer was ample. The cake went in the fridge for the frosting to set up, and later I swirled the remaining curd semi-artistically on top of the buttercream.
Tasting: Everyone liked this cake. Younger niece (the birthday girl) had been sampling the passion fruit curd, so she already knew that was a treat. The only criticism she had of the whole cake was that the thicker zones of the white chocolate-cream cheese frosting was more 'creamy' than she likes. She's not big on dairy products, so avoids excesses of cheese and cream cheese and yogurt and such. (Homemade whipped cream seems to be an exception to this, however.) She also commented on the lovely balance of sweet from the frosting and tart from the curd, and her mother, usually on the 'too sweet' side in most tastings, agreed. Older niece, the self-declared texture specialist, likes the texture on this one. She was the first one out with a "good cake" comment, too--before I managed to get seated after cutting the cake and getting myself something more to drink. My brother, who had not liked the white chocolate taste the last time it appeared in a frosting, thought the passion-fruit flavor kept the white chocolate from being a problem this time. Nephew didn't make any comments that I recall, but finished his off. My personal opinion is in line with everyone else--lovely balance of flavors, the passion fruit really makes this a wonderful cake. My only change if I do it again would be to skip the brown butter--my tastebuds will never know the difference once the cake is soaked in passion-fruit syrup, then combined with the curd and the frosting.