When I started making this cake I thought I would be coming out with a delicious recipe. But despite recipe testing, due to the various trials and errors I faced, I ended up mostly writing about what not to do when baking a cake.
As my chef friend Fathun said ‘Cheffing or being a cook is about fixing disasters too, as you have learnt from Masterchef’. I had Fathun’s help throughout this cake-making process. I can say Fathun is one of the people who is most enthusiastic and supportive of my cooking adventures. She’s always excited about new ideas I have and we both have so much fun planning dinners together. We both tend to go over-board when planning these said dinners, and a simple catching up meal will almost end up with a main, sides and dessert.
For the cake, we had a very exciting flavour combo: lemon and rosemary.
Lesson number one: Whisk eggs and sugar till sugar dissolves and the mixture is nice and fluffy. I added the eggs way too early and the mixture just curdled. We did manage to save it by just whisking and whisking but the second time I made it, I made sure the butter and sugar mixture was pale and fluffy AND the eggs were at room temperature (so many things to think about!).
Lesson number two: Fold in the wet and dry ingredients gently, but quickly. This is something that requires practice to do swiftly. I took ages to fold it and had worked the batter way too much. The cake did turn out a bit dense.
Lesson number 3: Measure the batter you put in each cake tin to get nice and even layers. This actually worked and I was very proud of it. I made three layers and put 2 and half cups of batter in each cake tin. Worked like a charm.
Lesson number 4: Even having a chef and KitchenAid on hand is not a guaranteed sure-fire way to mitigate disaster. I had attempted a cream cheese frosting earlier and it would not thicken however much I whisked it. So I told Fathun that I definitely needed help with this. She did things I would have probably over-looked, like making sure the cream cheese is at room temperature. However as much as we willed my KitchenAid to thicken the mixture, it turned out super runny and a bit curdled too. So we had to go to Plan B: regular buttercream.
Lesson number 5: Even a trusty buttercream frosting can give you grief. I had to make two batches of buttercream because I didn’t make enough the first time around. And the mixture split, both times! I managed to save it, but I was far from happy with the taste of the buttercream. In hindsight though, I think the buttercream complemented the cake perfectly. The cream cheese would have been too savoury for a cake that already had a lot of savoury flavours to it.
Everyone loved the cake, with some people taking leftovers home. I had fun decorating the cake,smoothing the buttercream and arranging the herbs and berries. I used macarons from Cacao, and the colours we chose went perfectly with rest of the cake toppings. I need to recipe test this again, workout baking times and get it a bit fluffy before I share the recipe. But this flavour combo is certainly a favourite!