Monday, September 19, 2011

The Whites and the Yolks

My friend, Alicia, asked me to do the cake for her sister's bridal shower.  It was to be a white cake with a layer of strawberries in the middle and white chocolate buttercream with white chocolate shavings.  For 80 people.  It was a big cake.
The cake's design was inspired by the shower invitations (the graphic flowers)
and the bride-to-be's china pattern (Lenox "Chirp").

I don't mind doing white cake, but for that much cake I really have to find use for the remaining egg yolks.  All 28 of them.  Throwing them out is simply not an option.

Over the last couple of days I've discovered it's easier to find recipes (that I can actually use anyway) that require only egg whites versus only egg yolks.  My go-to recipe for egg yolks is curd.  So this morning I used close to half of the yolks made about a quart and a half of vanilla infused orange curd. 

The recipe I started with was from Martha.  Of course, we all know I'm not the best at following recipes.  Before I even started, I knew I would be substituting ingredients to use things I already had on hand. 

The recipe calls for cooking the egg yolk mixture in a heavy pot over direct heat.  Much like jams and jellies, curd is not something you casually turn your back on.  As such, I tend to lean toward the side of caution and always use the double boiler method when I make curd.  In this case, I used the mixer bowl of my Kitchen Aid so when the mixture was cooked, I could put the bowl back on the mixer and let it whisk while I added the butter.  Lazy?  Perhaps.  But I prefer to think of it as "working smarter, not harder" - a favorite quote of one of my instructors. 

The brown sticks floating in the egg mixture are two left over pods from vanilla beans scraped for the cake.  I cut them up so they wouldn't be getting caught up in the whisk.  I did pull them out before whisking in the butter.  It would have been nice to show you pictures of the curd coming together as the butter is added in the mixer; however, I'm not coordinated enough to add butter with one hand and try to photograph with the other.  Being one's own photographer has its limitations. 
Because I like the bits of orange zest in it, I chose not to strain the curd.  I usually only strain if I've not been paying attention and have bits of scrambled yolk that need to come out.  And now what am I going to do with a quart and a half of orange curd?  I believe it's going to make a fine filling for some cupcakes.  Or maybe I'll try it as a filling for some mini eclairs topped with white chocolate.  Beyond that, I'm going to try to not just eat it with a spoon.

Vanilla Orange Curd
12 large egg yolks
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbs orange zest
6 Tbs orange juice concentrate
4 Tbs water
5 Tbs lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 sticks plus 5 Tbs unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, orange juice concentrate, water, lemon juice and vanilla bean in the top of a double boiler set over medium-high heat.  Whisk to combine.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken, then switch to a heat-proof spatula.  Continue to cook and stir until the mixture is thickened and reaches 160°F.  Be sure to scrape sides of the bowl while cooking.  

Remove the bowl from heat.  Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.  Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed.  Add the butter continuously, one piece at a time, until all of the butter is incorporated.  Whisk 2 – 3 minutes more on medium high speed to cool the curd.   If desired, strain through a fine sieve into a bowl or covered container.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and very firm, at least 2 hours or up to 10 days.


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