We are fast approaching the end of the Lenten Season. In less than a week, we will celebrate Palm Sunday, and the beginning of Holy Week leading to the joyful celebration that is Easter Sunday.
As I had mentioned before, while the physical number of days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday are greater than 40, when you count all the days except the Sundays, you’ll see that the season is 40 Days, less Sundays. That makes it about as clear as mud, not doesn’t it?
Our big Easter plans will involve a road trip up to the family farm. I have been thinking about creating something special for Palm (Passion) Sunday. Just as I had built an entire delicious meal around a Pink Margarita for Valentine’s Day, I want to build a beautiful meal around this awesome cake. I chose this cake for two reasons; the color (purple, the vestment colors of the season) and the Passion Fruit Filling, as we begin Passion Week.
Thank you to Beantown Baker for creating what I consider the perfect cake for Passion Sunday. She had some sound advise for baking this cake; which explains the early posting. According to Jen the Beantown Baker, do as much as you can ahead of time. She recommends making the filling on Thursday, bake the cakes on Friday, make the frosting on Saturday. Come Sunday, it’s just a matter of stacking and decorating. My own plan of attack is to go so far as stack and give it a crumb frosting on Saturday. Then its’ just a matter of piping the roses on Sunday. To pipe the roses, start in the center of each rose and make one big swirl from the inside to the outside. Still not sure? Jen has a great Video Tutorial How to Pipe a Rose.
Ombré Purple Passion Cake
For the Cake
1 cup + 2 tablespoons Whole Milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
2 teaspoons Almond Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 1/4 cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons Sugar
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
12 tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened but still cool
Purple or Violet Food Coloring
NOTE from the BAKER: Ingredients above are for one 2-layer 9-inch cake. This must be doubled to create 4-layers. It is easier to make the batter twice than to simply double it.
To Make the Cake
Make two batches of the cake recipe. While the first two layers are baking, make the second batch. While measuring out the ingredients for the first batch, measure out the ingredients for the second batch and set those aside until ready to bake.
Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans or line pans with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Set pans aside.
NOTE: If you happen to have four cake pans, go ahead and prepare all four pans at this time. If not, wash the pans and prepare for the second batch while the first batch is cooling.
Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high-speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. To the remaining batter, add five drops of purple or lavender food coloring. This will be the lightest of the colored layers.
Pour the tinted batter into the second pan. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from oven, place cakes still in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then turn cakes out of the pan onto the racks to continue cooling.
Repeat making the batter for the third and fourth layer. This time, divide the batter in half into separate bowls. To the batter for the third layer, add 10 drops of food coloring. To the batter of the forth layer, add 20 drops. When assembling the cake, the darkest layer is the bottom, becoming lighter with each layer.
For the Passion Fruit Curd
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 cup Passion Fruit Nectar or Puree (see note)
4 Egg Yolks
1 Vanilla Bean – split, seeds scraped
1 stick unsalted Butter, cut into tablespoons
NOTE from the BAKER: Passion Fruit Nectar or Puree can be found in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. Goya is the brand to look for.
To Make the Passion Fruit Curd
In a saucepan, whisk the sugar and cornstarch.
Whisk in the passion fruit nectar, egg yolks and vanilla seeds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thick, 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat; whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.
Scrape the filling into a glass bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
For the White Chocolate Buttercream
2 cups unsalted Butter, softened
5 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted (or more, for desired consistency)
Pinch of Salt
12 oz. good quality White Chocolate BARS, chopped (see note)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
Purple or Violet Food Coloring
NOTE from the BAKER: Do not substitute White Chocolate Chips or candy melts for the better quality bar.
To Make the Frosting
Put the chopped white chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave set to 60% power. Stir after each increment, and continue to heat 30 seconds at a time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and allow to completely cool
Once white chocolate has cooled, sift the salt and powdered sugar over the butter, in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar mixture together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Measure the cream into a cup, and stir in the vanilla extract.
With the mixer running on low-speed, gradually pour the cream mixture the bowl.
Once the cream mixture has been incorporated into the frosting, fold on the melted (but cooled) white chocolate until incorporated.
Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat frosting for an additional 3 minutes.
To Assemble the Cake
Once all of the cake layers have cooled, level each of the layers except the white layer, the top layer.
Place a small amount of frosting on a cake board to stabilize the cake. Center the darkest layer on the cake board. Pipe a small ring around the edge of the cake layer. This will ensure the filling doesn’t spill out between the layers.
Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup filling into center of cake and spread to the edges.
Stack the next lighter cake on top and continue the process until all layers are stacked and the white layer is on top.
Frost the cake with a crumb coat and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
To Decorate the Cake
Place 3/4 cup of frosting into each of two separate bowls (you’ll have three bowls of frosting at this point, two with 3/4 cup, and one with the rest, which will be more than 3/4 cup).
The bowl with the most frosting will be your lightest color. Add food coloring to that bowl first until the desired color is reached. Color the other two bowls of frosting such that you have three shades of frosting.
Place the cake on a rotating cake stand. Starting at the bottom, pipe a row of roses along the cake using the darkest frosting color. You’re going to pipe three rows of roses, so make sure they cover about 1/3 the height of the cake.
Continue with a second row of roses in the next lighter shade of frosting. Place the roses directly above the bottom layer.
Finish with one last row of roses in the lightest color. Next, decorate the top of the cake by piping a rose in the center of the top of the cake. Work your way around from there piping three circles of roses on the top of the cake.
If there are any large spaces between roses, you can pipe small stars into them to fill the space.