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Cake : An Early Frosting

November 10, 1994|KAREN STABINER

The only aspect of the great cake taste-off at which I didn't offer a choice was frosting. By the time the girls got to frost little rounds of cake at the end of the tasting, they were in no position to be critical.

Besides, there are some times when mother does know best, and when it comes to butter cream I've known the truth for years. The best butter cream around is in Nancy Silverton's book, "Desserts." It is absolutely, unequivocally luscious; a single teaspoon will undo a week of cruciferous vegetables, but you'll be so sublimely happy you won't care. The basic recipe is vanilla, but you can add fruit purees to it and come up with a whole rainbow of flavors.


1/2 cup milk

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2/3 cup sugar

7 egg yolks

2 1/4 cups unsalted butter, well softened

In 2-quart stainless-steel saucepan scald milk, vanilla bean and 1/2 cup sugar.

Meanwhile, in electric mixer or with wire whisk, beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until mixture is thick and pale-yellow and forms ribbon when beater is lifted.

Pour about 1/3 of hot milk into egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan to combine with remaining milk. Cook over high heat, whisking constantly. Stop whisking briefly as soon as mixture reaches boiling point, to allow it to bubble. Strain through fine-mesh strainer back into mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until mixture is thick, mousse-like and doubled in volume. Set aside.

Using paddle attachment of electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until it whitens, holds soft peaks and makes slapping noise against sides of bowl, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour egg yolk mixture down side of bowl into butter in steady stream, beating continuously on medium speed. Mixture may separate but will recombine as you continue beating. Beat until underside of bowl is cool and butter cream is smooth and shiny. Butter cream can be used immediately or can be kept refrigerated up to 10 days or frozen up to 3 months. Makes 1 quart butter cream.

Each 1/4-cup serving contains about:

292 calories; 271 mg sodium; 190 mg cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0 fiber.

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