Today is two special birthday’s, my 24th and Julia Child’s 100th. I know, fate right? This day 24 years ago, Julia was finishing up her book, “The Way to Cook”, and Julia was spending time with her ill husband, Paul… she was 76.
I entered in a Julia Child Inspired Cake contest through epicurious.com. My perfect birthday was spent recreating a Julia Child layer cake with butter cream frosting and having good friends over for dinner, wine, cake, and company. Julia was a pioneer… and in so many ways, I have to say, I have pioneered as well. Julia set goals, she accomplished tasks that took her years to complete, but she never gave up.
Tonight at dinner, I realized I had so much more in common with Julia, I have a small part of her determination and of her coming of her own- I moved to Atlanta with a job, but no real “life” direction”. I sat at my kitchen table, a year later, and realized that I had just about everything I wanted, and it took a mere year to get there. I was sitting with 7 friends, who I just met within the year, and felt a powerful feeling tonight, I felt at home.
So here’s to Julia, and here’s to me! 24 years old… I anticipate only good things in this upcoming year and in the words of Julia herself, Bon Appetit!
Me with my cake!
Julia Child- Picture c/o The Errant Aesthete
The cake was delicious… but have to admit, it did make me appreciate a good old Dunkin Hines boxed cake mix- much easier!
Genoise Cake Batter:
c/o Julia Child’s The Way to Cook
- 1 cup plus 2/3 cup plain unbleached cake flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 and place the rack in the middle level.
- Cut 2 wax paper circles to fit 2 9x 1 ½ inch pans- place in bottom of cake pans, butter and flour to ensure the cake will not stick.
- Sift the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt onto the wax paper.
- Melt the butter- remove ½ cup of the clear yellow liquid and scoop off the milk residue (the white particles that typically settle on top)
- In a large saucepan, fill ¼ the way with water and let the water simmer. To this bowl you will be adding the bowl with the egg mixture- I used my stand mixer bowl.
- Blend the eggs, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla in a stainless steel bowl (stand mixer bowl) and set it in the pan of simmering water.
- Start beating the eggs with an electric hand mixer- beat until the eggs start to feel warm and have thickened (about 5 minutes).
- Remove the bowl from the water and continue to beat with the hand mixer- at a moderately fast speed until the mixture has tripled in size and becomes cool. Julia uses the example of it forming a fat ribbon when it is lifted and dropped back into the bowl- takes around 8 minutes to get to this stage.
- This is when the arm exercises begin: folding in the flour. Sift a quarter of the flour over the egg mixture and fold it in rapidly with a large rubber spatula, rotating the bowl making sure to incorporate the flour, without disturbing the eggs.
10. Continue to fold in the flour mixture- don’t overdue the folding- you do not want to deflate the egg volume.
11. In a medium bowl, combine butter and a large blob of the egg-flour mixture; fold it rapidly and gently then fold the butter/batter mixture back into the large bowl with the remaining egg-flour mixture. (This is Julia’s technique for keeping the butter in suspension; otherwise it tends to sink to the bottom of the cake pan)
12. Pour cake batter into the 2 cake pans.
13. Julia says to bake for 30-35 minutes, but they baked for 28 minutes.
14. Let cool for 20 minutes in cake pans.
15. Remove onto a cooling rack and remove wax paper if it is stuck to the bottom of the cake.
16. Let the cakes cool for another hour before icing.
French Butter- Cream Frosting
Slightly adapted from Julia Childs The Way to Cook
The Sugar Syrup:
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 lb unsalted softened butter
- 2 tbsp coffee
- ½ lemon zest + juice
- ½ vanilla bean
6 peaches- peeled and thinly sliced
- Mix peach slices with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp sugar to keep from loosing their color.
The Sugar Syrup:
- In a medium saucepan (with a well fitting lid) bring the sugar and water to a simmer. Swirl the pot to stir and dissolve the sugar completely. Cover tightly and boil.
- To test if the sugar is at the stage you need it to be, Julia recommends filling a glass with cold water. Dip a spoon in to the sugar mixture and dip it in the water and pull out, if it forms threads, it is ready.
- In a stainless steel bowl (kitchen aid bowl), combine eggs and yolks and whip briefly with an electric mixer to blend the yolks and whites.
- In a thin and continuous stream, beat the hot sugar syrup into the egg mixture with an electric mixer.
- In a similar manor with the cake, take a large bowl and fill it with ¼ water and let the stainless steel bowl with the egg mixture rest in the simmering water and continue to beat the eggs for 5 minutes.
- Take the egg bowl out of the hot water and continue to beat until cooled- another 5 minutes.
- Beat the butter in a separate bowl until fluffy and creamy.
- Hook the egg mixture up into the Kitchen Aid mixer- you will then scoop small amounts of butter into the egg mixture. Have your Kitchen Aid set to medium speed.
- Once all the butter is smoothly incorporated, beat in the vanilla beans, coffee, and lemon zest and juice.
To Assemble the Cake:
- Take one of the cakes and place on a cake stand. Add a glob of the butter cream icing and ice the center of the cake- I added a layer of peaches- enough to cover the icing.
- Place the second cake onto of the iced layer. Continue to ice and add globs of icing to the top of the cake and pull that icing down to ice the sides of the cake.
- Add a layer of peaches to the top of the cake- I added flowers as my garnish, white roses, and the August birth month flower, Gladiolus- which symbolizes strength of character, so very Julia.
One of my favorite photos of Julia and Paul Child c/o The Errant Aesthete