March 12, 2015

reading in the kitchen - laura's wedding cake

With matrimony on my mind following the release of The Marrying Type, this month I'm featuring Laura Ingalls Wilder's wedding cake for Reading in the Kitchen. While my love for the Little House series as a whole is strong, if I had to pick one book that was my all-time favorite, These Happy Golden Years would be my choice. I've always found the quiet romance between Laura and Almanzo terribly romantic, and so the wedding cake that Ma and Laura make together has always been one of my favorite dishes and one I most wanted to try.

Using Barbara M. Walker's The Little House Cookbook, I had my marching orders.

Following the directions in the cookbook, I set out all of the ingredients for an hour before cooking to allow the refrigerated items to warm to room temperature. Not needing a full-sized wedding cake, I made a half-batch and cheated by using egg whites from a container rather than the eggs. Perhaps this egg white decision changed my overall results, but I wasn't about to waste 10 egg yolks. (The cookbook encouraged me to make scrambled eggs, but yikes! That's a lot of egg yolk.)

I started by creaming the butter and sugar.

I added almond extract and lemon flavoring to the milk.

Next, I added the milk and flavoring into the butter and sugar mixture.

The cookbook next instructed me to spend 10 minutes whipping egg whites so I could get the same affect (and arm ache) as Laura would have. Grabbing the bowl, I planted myself in front of the TV for that time and went to work.

And I whipped it some more until my arm hurt just as badly as Laura assured me it would.

Next I sifted in flour and cream of tartar...

Also folding in eggs. (I did it in thirds--a third of the flour, a third of the egg whites, repeat.)

I poured the batter into two 8-inch cake pans and placed them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This is substantially less time than what I was instructed to do in the cookbook, but I've noticed that trend.

While the cake cooled, my poor arm and I started whipping egg whites for the frosting. The recipe for this was on the following page.

So I whipped, and I whipped, and I whipped some more. I added powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time as instructed. Then I threw in some lemon flavoring, too, because try as I might, I still haven't been able to locate rose water.

And it still never reached the point where I considered it good frosting. Figuring it must be more like a glace, I put it on the cake.

But I was wrong. It was more like a syrup lapped up by the cake, never crystallizing.

The result of this project, despite the lengthy time it took to prep it, wasn't everything I imagined. The cake itself was fine. It reminded me of a cake I made for my brother's birthday a couple of years ago. Nice, but a little heavy texture-wise, and lightly flavored. The frosting was pretty much a fail. It never completely frothed, thickened up, or hardened despite my best efforts. That said, it was pretty delicious.

Combined it was... fine. I didn't hate the cake, but it won't be making it onto my "must repeat" list either. Perhaps I didn't completely pull this one off, but I don't know if a hardened frosting would've made much of a difference.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, turn to pages 206-209 in the cookbook for the cake and frosting recipes.

About The Marrying Type

Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it). 

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress. 

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future. 

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