Okay, well the third of the 3 birthday cakes I did last week was actually a pie. A Lemon Sponge Pie – actually a triple version of it. I used puff pastry dough as the crust, but that really wasn’t necessary – I’m still not exactly sure why I used that instead of just a regular pastry crust. Sometimes my ideas just drag me along behind them and I don’t ask questions.
The story behind this one really sort of begins years ago, when I used to make a lot of birthday cakes for the people at work. Our dept manager actually paid me to do this for everyone, which was nice – nice of him and nice for me. So I these cakes for a few years until someone (as I understand it) from some other department complained (why? nothing better to do? no cake for you?) and that ended the fun.
Anyway, D. had been the recipient of, I believe, 3 of my cakes over the years, and so, since I’m leaving soon and feeling kind of nostalgic, I offered to make a cake.
Why pizza? D. had indicated that instead of the usual bagels and cream cheese, or store-boughten cakes that have been provided to birthday folk recently, he’d rather have pizza. Or lasagne. So another girl in the dept decided to make lasagne, and I offered to make a cake that looked like a pizza, as a surprise. And that was how it began.
I used a large (14") cake pan for this. Two boxes of frozen puff pastry dough. Triple the Lemon Sponge Pie recipe. And I forced the family to eat pizza for dinner on Halloween just so I’d have an actual pizza box to use for presentation. (Okay, "forced" is a bit of an exaggeration.)
Anyway, here we go…
First thing I did was to line the pan with the puff pastry dough. I had to cut and paste (so to speak) the rectangles of dough, but it didn’t take long, and two boxes was the perfect amount. I curled the edges under to create the edge of the pizza crust, and then put the pan into the fridge to keep the dough chilled.
Next – the pie filling.
Per the instructions, I combined the butter, sugar and egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, salt and flour, and set them aside.
In a separate bowl, I whipped the egg whites until stiff.
And then folded them into the yolk/lemon mixture…
…until combined. (You want to do this as gently as possible, so as to leave as many air bubbles as possible intact.)
And then pour it into the pie shell.
And slide that into your 375 degree oven.
Now – with puff pastry dough, you really need the oven temp to be higher than that – in the 400s – in order for the fat to melt and create enough steam quickly to puff up the layers of dough.
But the pie recipe calls for a starting temp of 375, so that’s what I went with, because I didn’t know what another 50 degrees or so might do to the filling. Maybe I’ll try it some time with a single-sized pie, but I wasn’t about to experiment on this one.
Anyway, I baked it at 375 for about 25 minutes – longer than the directions called for, but I figured the extra time was justified due to tripling of the recipe. Then, per the recipe, I dropped the temp down to 300 and baked until the top was golden brown – about another hour.
Voila! As the pie cooled, the filling deflated a bit and dropped down til it was about level with the crust.
After it had cooled to room temperature, I put it in the fridge until it was thoroughly chilled.
In order to achieve the pizza look, I needed something to look like sauce, something to look like cheese, and some sort of topping. I picked pepperoni – because it was the easiest thing to recreate.
I bought two boxes of raspberry FruitaBu. After carefully selecting a round cookie cutter, each rectangle of smushed fruit provided me with two pieces of "pepperoni."
I wrapped the disks of fruit in plastic wrap so they wouldn’t dry out or get stuck to anything and moved on to the sauce.
I had picked up seedless raspberry jam for this. I spooned some into a bowl and mashed it up with a fork until it was liquidy; then I spooned it around the edge of the pizza, where the filling met up with the crust, and randomly swirled some of it toward the center of the pizza.
For the cheese…well, originally I was going to do some sort of brulee thing, in order to mimic the mix of yellowy cheese and darker, more well-cooked cheese on top of a pizza. But since the lemon sponge already had that mix of shades, I just applied apricot jam all over it to make it look kind of, well, greasy. And then I added the pepperoni, and set the pan in the box.
Will that be pick-up or delivery?