cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...

a limoncello snow cake on account of all the snow

a post for my dear editor who missed the snow this year~

Friends, readers, passersby--are you by chance privy to the identity of the infamous Parson Brown? Parson Brown, yes, you know the chimey lyrics to winter wonderland: In the meadow we can build a snowman, Then pretend that he is Parson Brown, He'll say are you married? We'll say: No man, But you can do the job when you're in town. Until recently (one week ago) I was still a member of the naive masses, pausing mid-song to pose the question to the void; who the hell is Parson Brown? After multiple repetitions of my inquisition, due to the continual feed of sticky holiday favorites blasted from the car stereo through the sensuous 98.1 Spokane's number one hit station for all your holiday favorites! housemate S and I retreated to the source of infinite wisdom to quench our brain wracking conundrum, the i-ching of all things vital to a cognitive existence--no not cash cab-- Wikipedia of course. As melodious legend would have it, Parson Brown was a term given to traveling protestant ministers who traveled among rural towns to perform wedding ceremonies for those "distant" from their preferred flavor of denomination. So next time you're in the woods walking through a winter wonderland and a feigned Parson Brown arrives to "do the job" make face and high tail it or you'll find yourself hitched.

Well, now you know yet one more seemingly irrelevant truism, but perhaps somewhere, somehow, someday, it will bear out its purpose. But heed this: when walking in a winter wonderland, if you do in fact come across the Parson, poke him in the ribs and tell him that if the wedding needs a caterer and a cake, there's a bottle of limoncello sitting in the alley behind the Salty Cod Bakery determined to shatter the bad rep of the yellow snow...on y va.

Ever been caught in a 32 hour straight snow-fall? 3.5 feet in one day alone. Only you Russians and Scandinavians are entitled to call me a wimp. The television reporters dubbed it the heaviest snow since the storm of 64. What happened in 1964? Dunno. But i'm guessing there was a lot of snow involved. Snow is a beautiful phenomenon, visually stimulating to any and all eyes. Snow connotes images a plenty: Happiness, as the woodland creatures gaily pounce around Rudolph's pillowy forest. Tranquility, as poets often praise the solitude of whited paths for sensitive pensive activity. Silence, as a muffling shroud for the chaos and crime committed upon our terra firma. Romance, a snugly fire, a cozy cuddle, a steamy hot tub. Innocence, mittens, hot chocolate, sleds and a snowman. The images of snow are branded in western culture with hot irons of nostalgia. Snow is a fact of life, for those in snow bound regions of the world it comes as does the coming of tomorrow. But perhaps there is a limit, a limit when fun turns to annoyance, to pain, and to fear. Snow, like everything else in life so sticky sweet, is a double edged sword, whose presence is plentiful, though not without consequence.

A dusting is tolerable, the snow plows can do their work to put us on our merry way. The upside to snow: snow means clouds, clouds mean warmth, warmth means temperature in the positives, a welcome relief to the week of dipping below zero. Though when the heavens draft dust as a dump, things become a bit tricky. Where has my porch gone? I ask as i open my bedroom curtains to the (knee-high blanket) of powder outside my window. Hmmm. An hour with the snow shovel...and another...and another...ah finally, a path to the garbage can! Yes I am Nanook of the North! See my shovel, see my pick, come to the lake we will drill a hole and fish! (well, I do have a fur-lined hood...) neither here nor there--but I cannot open the door. Snow tires. Accidents. Where is the road? The snow has not stopped falling. The pass will be filling. Will we travel home as planned? The city becomes chaotic, the plows clear a path to be covered again only moments later. The sidewalks fuse into the roads, the tires spin and we find our hands on the trunk of the snow-stuck sedan ahead of us. These morons, attempt the roads in a lexus? Stay home unless you're in a subaru you schmuck... This morning dawned the final day of term exams--email: university closed, burried in snow. Alright then, let's get the hell out of here. Dig out the car: shall we risk our lives? Hell yes. Seattle awaits for the winter holiday.

But before we tread the ididerod, the occasion calls for a cake. The snow is irksome, though a gift in disguise. We complain, we grumble, we shovel the walk--but there is a small gem to be taken with the salt. A snow cake a snow cake to honor the snow, but what is there to be had in the house? Why, there is a frosty bottle of limoncello in the freezer, and you know what they say about yellow snow...limoncello it is. A white cake of course, but a white lemon cake? How can one fully honor the awesomely terrifying yet simple beauty of the snow in edible form? After a few brainstorming sessions with my pastry chef consultant and future business partner (miss Christy from Downunder) her idea of limoncello meringue started the snowball rolling that emerged eventually into the Spokane Snow Cake: white cake with limoncello cream icing, a center layer of limoncello meringue, all encased in a white chocolate ganache, then finished off with a snowy layer of the cream. Now that is a snow cake.

Spokane Snow Cake:

white cake
Ingredients: ~ 2 sticks butter ~ 1.5 cups sugar ~ 2 cups flour ~ 2 tsp bp ~ vanilla sugar ~ 0.75 cups milk ~ 6 egg whites ~ 0.25 tsp salt
Method: 1) mix dry 2) beat butter and sugar 3) combine whites and milk 4) add dry and wet to butter alternating each addition 5) bake in pan of choice lined with parchment (god's toiletpaper) at 350 F until it is cooked.

Limoncello Meringue
Ingredients: 3 egg whites ~ 0.75 cups sugar ~ 1 packet vanilla sugar ~ 2 tsps limoncello
Method: beat egg whites until foamy, add sugars and limoncello, then beat until stiff peaks. line the SAME pan you baked your cake in with parchment paper, and fill with a layer of the whipped egg whites (don't use it all please, this is to make a LAYER not a brick ok) and bake for 2 hours at 200 F. yes, it is a bitch. but worth it.

Limoncello Cream
Ingredients: 8 oz (1 square pack) of cream cheese ~ 6 tbsp Limoncello ~ pack of vanilla sugar ~ half stick of butter ~ 4 cups confectioners sugar
Method: beat cream cheese and butter, add vanilla sugar, limoncello, and sugar. Whip it up good.

White Chocolate Ganache
Ingredients: half a bag of white chocolate chips ~ 80 ml of evaporated milk ~ 0.25 cup of butter
Method: heat milk and butter in microwave until bubbly, pour over the chocolate chips in a bowl and whip until melted.

Assemble: When cake is cool, cut it in half and spread a thin-ish layer of limoncello cream. place meringue (should be exact same shape as cake) on top of cream. Add another layer of cream. Place top of cake on. Pour ganache on top all over. Let dry. Cover with rest of cream. And that's all, really.

Snow. Snow. Snow so white--Snow White, Blanche Neige. Ah you meddlesome pest, you tormentor of routine. Cold nose, cold toes. You are best under my skis. But there are those out there who yet wonder about you, who want to see and to feel you. Take it I say--I don't want it. Trade me it's all yours. But if mine were all yours, and yours all were mine, I would pine for a flake, the cold chill and the thrill. Fickle is nature, pretty the pest, perhaps it just shows that we always want what it is we don't have. But a compromise then instead--we can meet in the middle somewhere, a snowball will melt in the jar, but a piece of cake can go far.

A bientot


Anonymous said...

Oh my! I MUST try this ASAP! I make my own limoncello and will be starting a batch soon after we move into the new house next week! It'll be the perfect thing to make with it.

I'm not even going to comment on the snow!

Ashley Nicole. said...

Huh. I didn't even know that part of the line was "Parson Brown." I always just.. mumbled that bit because I could never understand what this "brown" thing was. I also thought it was "No, ma'am." So then I became even more confused over this "brown" thing they referred to as both "him" and "ma'am."

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

i am in love with these photos mallory... wow....!!!

Anonymous said...

Just thought of something regarding this recipe. I'm a novice to making meringue and I know it can be finicky to work with in humidity. I'm now in an extremely hot humid climate (Guam) I doomed for failure with that layer?

The Fort Henry Gazette said...

since i was like 6 i've been curious about this parson brown (in my head i always said carson brown, ha).. now i finally know!

Anonymous said...

Your cake sounds/looks amazing, and I love limoncello. Good luck with the snow. At least it's pretty!

Helene said...

The cake, the much white that makes me happy!!

Anonymous said...

An absolute thing of beauty!

Rachel said...

i hate snow, but that first photo makes me miss it. and why oh why must you constantly torture me with your amazingly delicious looking cupcakes?!?!?

ps. your last comment on my blog was perfect. my mom always says the same thing. i sense a post coming on... :)

Christy said...

I so totally love how those turned out!! You are a genius!! I love how you decided to sandwich the meringue between the cake layers...Oh I can only imagine how soft and light the cake is!!

All that snow!! Oh my...the only time I've seen that much snow was on a ski mountain in Switzerland! And we were on holiday so did not have to feel the pain of shoveling and wading through snow to get to the car, the garbage can, or to the front porch!! But I've never seen icicles like that!! Beautiful photos!!Have fun in Seattle, and hey, see, there's a silver lining in the snow clouds after all: exam's cancelled!!

grace said...

how wonderfully appropriate, as i look outside to see the snow continue to fall even though it's already up to my license plate!
meanwhile, i'm loving your cake-to-frosting/filling ratio. loving it. :)

The Fort Henry Gazette said...

Please tell me I am the first to find the secret message!?
umm macadamia nut-cookies... no no.. wait.. a leaning tower of pisa cake!?.. or maybe just anything devoted to peanut butter.
....decisions decisions!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This cake looks fantastic and am going to decorate it with fondant snowflakes!!

I found your blog by chance and absolutely love it...I'm a travel-addicted, marathon-running foodie as reading your blog makes me very happy.

For this cake, am I correct in assuming that you used a loaf pan? Thx!


Mallory Elise said...

thanks everyone--you are all fabulous.

as for the cake pan–yes you could use a bread loaf pan, but if you can use a narrow long one, which is the one i used then that would be better. it makes the individual pieces smaller, and i think if it was much wider it would be less attractive–a rectangle would be a little dumpy looking i think. but taste the same so, if it doesn’t matter to you then use any pan. but presentation c'est tout non?!

Katie said...

That cake perfectly captures the serenity of a winter snowfall - it's gorgeous! Happy Holidays :)

Y said...

Snow cake sounds positively dreamy. It's posts like these that make we wish we had snow here.

qlue said...

Perhaps I'm only listening with one ear, but aren't the lyrics, 'she'll say, "are you married?", he'll say, "no ma'am, but you can do the job when you're in town.".'?
Ok I'll admit it, I've had this line stuck in my head since I woke up this morning and it's driving of nuts!

Freesia P (section 2) said...

Thank you for this recipe. I just wanted to let you know that the meringue part has been a standby recipe for me for the past few years. I LOVE making little kisses out of them. I have sent many people to your site because everyone always says they are the best meringues they have ever had. I have a batch in the oven now!

Unknown said...

How do you make the cupcakes?