Friday, October 7, 2011

Oktoberfest food - part 1

As promised, the first of a couple of food followup posts from last weekend's Oktoberfest party.

This one will focus on dessert - namely, the princess cake. I've been wanting to make one of these for about a year now. A lot of people don't know what princess cakes are, although if you've ever been to IKEA and seen the bright green domed dessert, that's it! (or at least, a simpler version.)

IKEA's princess cake
The princess cake is VERY involved, so I won't rewrite the entire recipe - you can find the one I used here. There aren't any process photos, so I've posted mine below. I find that I really like being able to see a recipe throughout the steps. I will however give you the recipe for marzipan, a sweet almond paste dessert (and the princess cake's outer layer). Some people hate it, but I'm definitely among those who love it.

You will end up with about 2 pounds of marzipan and a bit of extra almond paste (which is just a stickier, less sweet marzipan, basically). If you want ways to use the leftover almond paste, there are a couple of ideas on Two Tarts, where I got the original recipe.

makes 2 pounds

almond paste:
3 cups raw almonds
3 cups powdered sugar
2 egg whites

1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
food coloring (optional)

  1. First, blanch your almonds: bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the almonds, boil for one minute, then drain and let cool until they are easy to handle. Remove the skins - this is actually super easy. Just squeeze an almond and it should pop right out. Throw away the almond skins.
  2. Let the almonds dry for a few minutes, then add to a food processor (you could try a blender but I don't think it would work as well). Process for a couple of minutes until the almonds are in tiny pieces. Add the powdered sugar and process for a couple more minutes. You want everything to be well blended and fine, as you won't be able to grind any smaller after this step.
  3. Add the egg whites and process until they are combined and the mixture is very thick - this was hard on my cheap food processor. This is almond paste.
  4. Remove the paste from the food processor and measure out 1 pound - put this back in the food processor and store the remaining almond paste refrigerated in an airtight container.
  5. Add all but one cup of the powdered sugar and pulse several times until combined. Add the corn syrup and continue to pulse until it is combined and the paste comes together again.
  6. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a clean surface (a silicon mat or counter) and knead the dough, adding more powdered sugar as necessary. Knead until it is dough-like and not so sticky, then knead in food coloring, if using. I used about 6-8 drops of green for most of it and a couple drops of red for a small piece. 
  7. To use, chill in the fridge, then roll out, using more powdered sugar to keep it from sticking. It stuck too much to my silicon mat, even with lots of sugar, so I eventually switched to parchment paper, and that made it easier to pick up (on the paper), invert, and transfer onto my cake.
  8. You can store this in the fridge or freezer (I'm not a food safety expert and don't know exactly how long), but be sure to package well, such as in plastic wrap and a sealed container. Mine picked up "fridge smells" with just a couple layers of plastic wrap. :/

And, the princess cake.

My variations on the recipe:
- I made two full (13x18") genoises because that's the kind of pan I had. I intended to make some mini princess cakes, like IKEA's, with the extra, but I never finished them.
- I used cherry preserves instead of strawberry - I like it better, and it fits with the kirsch (a cherry brandy).
- I used swiss meringue buttercream in place of the second layer of whipped cream (near what becomes the bottom of the cake). Because YUM smb!
- I think next time I would skip the whipped cream and gelatin parts of the pastry cream - it seemed plenty thick and delicious before those additions.

 genoise batter in progress - whipped egg yolks and sugar
folding flour and cornstarch into the genoise batter

finished genoise sheet

pastry cream - pre-gelatin and whipped cream. You can see vanilla bean specks.

adding whipped cream to pastry cream

creating the genoise dome

genoise dome with layer one - whipped cream

the swiss meringue buttercream layer

cherry preserves on the bottom layer

Tim enjoying pastry cream

princess cake the next day

unwrapped for the first time

adding the outer swiss meringue buttercream

ready for marzipan!

rolling out the green marzipan

covering the cake - peel off the wax paper in sheets, and the marzipan won't stick too much

done except for decorations!

the lovely Alex helping out with pink polka dots

Alex decorating

pink marzipan

all done!


  1. I love the "Tim enjoying pastry" picture! haha. Job well done my friend.

  2. Haha, yes, I love his smile in that picture.