Sunday, April 29, 2012

Autism Ombre Cake

While it's always Autism Awareness Day in my house, the end of April marks the end of National Autism Awareness Month.  So, I offer a celebratory cake in Autism Awareness blue.

This little cake is my variation on the rainbow cakes so popular right now.  It's almond flavor is subtle, so as not to be too jarring with the color.  And, of course, is iced with my favorite German Buttercream - courtesy of the Brave Tart.  This time, flavored with almond extract.

The first step was to get Geraldine ready to go:

What?  A kerchief keeps a girl's hair out of her eyes and out of her way.  Note, Geraldine's kerchief leaves her vents free.  And it helps keep the cold gel pack in place that sometimes is necessary to keep her cool when she's being overworks.  And friends, a 6 layer cake AND buttercream might just make her cranky.
The next step is to line your pans.  I happen to have a set of four 9" pans.  Which means that I can make one batch of batter, then wash pans, then mix another 1/2 batch.  I not only grease and flour my pans, I line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Since I'm too cheap to buy precut circles, I cut them from a roll.  Cut a strip of parchment at least 9" wide.  Then, fold down one corner and fold on the diagonal:

Fold the outside corner to match the opposite corner.

Continue folding into progressively narrower triangles:

Trim the triangle to 4-1/2" inches in length.

Open up the new "circle" and make sure it fits

Now, remove the paper again, grease the pan, then put the paper back in and grease the paper.  THEN flour the pan.  I prefer sweet rice flour for this.  Now your pans are ready.

Almond Ombre Cake

4 egg whites
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. almond meal
2 cups Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP Flour, or
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp shortening
1 c. milk
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare pans as directed above.
Whisk together almond meal, flour, salt, baking powder, xanthan gum, and 1 c. sugar.
In a bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Gradually add 1/4 c. of sugar, beating continuously.  Continue to whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream shortening (you can use butter if you want, but Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening isn't really that bad).  Add 1/3 of dry ingredients.  Then alternate small amounts of milk and the remaining dry ingredients, beating well after each addition.  Incorporate all of the milk and the almond extract, then beat for 2-3 minutes on medium.  Fold in beaten egg whites very gently.

The easiest way to get even layers is to scale the batter.  I weighed my mixer bowl before I started.  Then weighed it with the batter.  Subtract the weight of the empty bowl from the weight of the full bowl - then subtract another 20 grams (you'll never get ALL the batter out).  Divide the remaining amount by 4, and put that weight of batter in each pan.  Fill the first pan, then add a drop of blue food coloring to the batter, folding in gently.  Fill the next pan.  Add more coloring, until you have filled each pan with successfully darker blue batter.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Make an additional half batch of batter, and bake two more, even darker layers.

Stack the layers from darkest to lightest, layering about 3/4 c. buttercream in between each layer.  I admit, with these thin, rather fragile cakes, it's pretty difficult to get them lined up and level.  Just do your best and fill in the rest.

Coat the cake with the remaining buttercream (I tinted mine slightly) and place in the refrigerator.


Enjoy!

2 comments:

  1. My nephew is allergic to almond what can be substituted for almond meal?

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  2. Is your nephew allergic to just almonds, or all tree nuts? You could certainly substitute ground hazelnuts if you like.

    Or, you could just replace it with an equivalent volume of flour. It will change the texture of the cake just a little, but it will still be acceptable.

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