Ahh, petit fours. Something I have always, always wanted to make. They are so tiny and pretty and delicate. Finally, I decided to give it a go and make them as favors for my friend’s baby shower. They turned out very well, and people seemed to really enjoy them but, will I ever make them again? Probably not. I actually think my downfall was being too ambitious by making two types of petit fours – two cake flavors, two simple syrups, two jams, and two colors of poured fondant. If I had not done that, I think this wouldn’t have taken the insane amount of time that it did. The flavor combinations were lemon sponge cake with vanilla buttercream, raspberry jam and raspberry simple syrup, and almond sponge cake with vanilla buttercream, blueberry jam and blueberry simple syrup. I have to admit, the end result was very impressive, especially when topped with cute little sugar flowers and bumblebees from Baker’s Nook. The theme of the shower was “Mommy-to-Bee” so these fit in nicely. The recipe below is basically what I did, although I made more batches of poured fondant than I care to count to cover these cakes. Quite a bit is wasted in the process of ladling over the cakes, and I don’t know that it can be salvaged. It was easier to work with than most sources I have read led me to believe, so that is one small saving grace of this experience. As painful as this all was, as long as Rachel enjoyed it then it was all worth it :-)
For the Lemon Sponge Cake:
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
(For Almond Sponge Cake, prepare as directed except omit lemon peel, use ½ cup pineapple juice instead of lemon juice and water, and add a ½ tsp. almond extract with the juice.)
For the Raspberry Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
fresh raspberries (a handful or two)
(For Blueberry Simple Syrup, prepare as directed except substitute fresh blueberries for fresh raspberries.)
For the filling:
one recipe Easy Vanilla Buttercream
seedless raspberry jam, heated or stirred until easily spreadable
For the poured fondant:
4 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. almond extract
food coloring (optional)
To make the cake, separate eggs. Allow egg whites and egg yolks to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored. Add lemon peel, lemon juice, water and vanilla; beat on low speed until combined. Gradually beat in the 1 cup sugar at low speed. Increase to medium speed; beat until mixture thickens slightly and doubles in volume (about 5 minutes total).
Sprinkle ¼ cup of flour over egg yolk mixture; fold in until combined. Repeat with remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time. Set egg yolk mixture aside.
Thoroughly wash beaters. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the ½ cup sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold 1 cup of the beaten egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture; fold egg yolk mixture into remaining egg white mixture. Pour into a 9×13” baking pan, sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
Bake in a 325° oven for 27-30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert cake onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To make the simple syrup, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently, heat until the sugar has dissolved in the water. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, pour through a sieve to remove fruit, and allow to cool completely before use.
To assemble petit fours, slice cake horizontally into two equal halves. Brush the cut side of each layer with simple syrup. On one cake layer, spread a layer of buttercream. Top with a thin layer of jam. Lay remaining cake layer on top of jam. Brush top layer with more simple syrup. Carefully cut layered cake into desired petit four shapes.
To make the poured fondant, combine all ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water. Heat until lukewarm. Remove from heat and stir in food coloring. Ladle over petit fours (multiple coats are likely necessary).
Sources: sponge cake adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook; vanilla buttercream from Cook’s Illustrated, poured fondant from Use Real Butter