Sometimes I have a big, audacious, crazy idea that's way beyond my baking skills. It's the baking equivalent of running before learning how to walk. I had it in my mind to make a three-tiered Fried Chicken Cake dripping in hot honey for my friends Jenni and Stan who have a content creation and marketing agency called Fried Chicken Sandwich Studios. I convinced them to host a party at my house to celebrate their company's one-year anniversary. We threw an epic fried chicken party with fried chicken from five difference places in Los Angeles, a queso fountain, Chicken Sh!t Bingo, rooftop whiskey bar & cigar lounge, and my three-tiered fried chicken sandwich cake. Watch the party recap video by Will Yang -- scroll to the bottom!
I like these challenging bake projects because it pushes me to try something that intimidates me and finally take that leap to just do it. I only started making frosted layer cakes several months ago which was met with more failure than success. Like a chocolate drip cake that looked more like Frankenstein's wig than chocolate drip. Stakes were high on this project because failure was not an option. No undo, redos, Ctrl-Z or backup plans. Bok-bok bitches!!
Cake on Cake on Cake
I imagined a triple decker sweet and savory cake that pairs well with fried chicken but was still clearly cake with a sweet frosting. The cake would be Cornbread Bibingka. I was inspired by the cornbread bibingka from The Park's Finest BBQ in Echo Park, Los Angeles which is DELICIOUS btw (if you've never been go get some ASAP). Bibingka is a Filipino baked rice cake that is served around the Christmas season. Cornbread bibingka is cornbread but made with rice flour to give it a soft chewy texture. The glutinous rice flour acts more like a mochi and helps hold together the cornbread cake for stacking. I was worried that regular cornbread would crumble easily and the whole cake would come toppling down.
I found this Cornbread Bibingka Cupcake recipe from Element Eats and figured it would be a good adaptation for what I was envisioning. Big takeaway and lesson learned: I took a lazy baker shortcut and used corn kernels instead of creamed corn. I think it would have been better with creamed corn and the corn bits would have suspended through the batter better. Because I used whole corn kernels all the corn went into the middle of the cake and made it soggy in the center. Do what I say, not as I do.
Swiss Buttercream Frosting
I imagined the flavor profile to be cornbread with fried chicken and a hint of maple flavor with drizzle of hot honey. To get a good frosting style buttercream I made Maple Swiss Buttercream using a recipe and technique by The Little Epicurean. Her full recipe is for Cinnamon Maple Pumpkin Cake so I just used the buttercream recipe and omitted the cinnamon. It worked PERFECTLY! Swiss Buttercream uses whipped egg whites tempered over low heat and melted sugar to achieve a smooth, marshmallow-y buttercream frosting. It's a little intimidating to temper the egg whites at first. This was my third time making Swiss buttercream and by jove I think I've got it!
It wouldn't be a fried chicken party to celebrate Fried Chicken Sandwich Studios without a fried chicken sandwich cake topper!! I didn't make the fried chicken but I did make my favorite recipe Beautiful Burger Buns from King Arthur Flour. It's so easy and makes perfect, pillowy buns. I cheat a little though and put all the the ingredients into my bread maker on the dough setting so that it mixes and proofs perfectly every time.
Frosting the cake with the Swiss buttercream was a whole different matter. I suck at frosting cakes and it always looks so sloppy. I envy the smooth sides, clean edges and perfectly level cakes. Apparently chilling the cake and frosting a little will help get those clean lines. But I didn't have time for that or enough space in my fridge to fit a three-tier cake. So blah. I'm going with it's good enough!
I did it! Made the cake, it looked and tasted good. And I didn't drop it while carrying it out to the party. Not my best work but considering my lack of experience with layer cakes I'll put this one in the success column! Thanks to everyone who came to this Fried Chicken Party to celebrate Jenni and Stan! Can't wait for the next one.
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