January 18, 2012

Chabela Wedding Cake

I distinctly remember the book, Like Water For Chocolate, recommended to me back in high school by a classmate who was an avid reader.  Last week I finally got my hands on a copy from the library and was able to read through it in a couple days.  Each chapter in the book begins with a recipe.  And each recipe is woven into the love story between the main characters, Tita and Pedro- everything a romantic foodie could ask for in a book!
Since I didn't happen to have any quail, powdered potassium or ox tail on-hand I chose the Chabela Wedding Cake as my first attempt at one of the recipes from the book.  It calls for17 eggs, 175 grams (about 1.5 cups) of sugar and 300 grams (about 2 3/4 cups) of cake flour sifted 3 times and the grated peel of one lime. 

Although the recipe sounded impossible to me it was all I could think about for an entire week. I contemplated and searched and searched online to see if anyone had attempted to bake this cake and write about it.  I couldn't find anything.  This recipe is the closest I found but as awesome as the site is and as delicious as the cake looks I really wanted to be a purist when it came to this cake.  Unfortunately, the thought of wasting 17 eggs if the recipe flopped sort of broke my heart.  So, much like the love between Tita and Pedro, a pure version of this cake could not be.
The cake in the book includes an apricot filling, a lime fondant and a meringue.  I've never attempted fondant or meringue but I definitely wanted to include the apricot filling and have hints of lime in the icing. 

So....without further ado, here is my version of the Chabela Wedding Cake from Like Water For Chocolate

For the cake I adapted this recipe and this recipe to create a light and fluffy buttermilk base.  I substituted butter for shortening and added 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites instead of 4 egg whites and also increased the amount of baking powder using the following recipe:

Buttermilk Cake
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

First cream together butter, sugar and 2 whole eggs.
In a separate bowl sift cake flour, salt and baking powder.
Beat 2 egg-whites until fluffy and stir in vanilla extract.
Alternate mixing the flour mixture and the buttermilk into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.  Once everything is incorporated, fold in the egg whites and it should look like this:
Divide batter into three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350 for 28-30 minutes and you will get three of these beauties:
The apricot jam is a simple recipe I tweaked a bit in order to use the ingredients I had on-hand.  I combined a cup and a quarter of apricots (skin removed and diced), 1 cup of sugar and the juice from half an orange in a skillet and cooked it on medium heat until it came to a boil.  I then let it simmer for several minutes until it thickened and had the consistency of jam.
I suggest using half the amount of sugar or doubling the amount of fruit; this turned out very sweet and I was hoping for more of the fruity notes of apricot to come through.  I was tempted to go to the store and buy a jar of apricot preserves and mix it with my apricot jam but that sounded like too much work after I had already devoted a couple hours to this cake. 

I found this recipe for lime butter cream which was perfect for incorporating the lime flavor mentioned in the book.  It was very simple to make and the result was smooth and sweet and tangy.  The recipe called for an entire 32oz. package of powdered sugar but I left out about 8oz and probably could have cut back even more. Since I chose a plain buttermilk cake I went more intense with the frosting, but one tablespoon of lime juice and 1 teaspoon of zest would still yield a get great lime flavor.

Lime Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp. grated lime peel
3 tbsp lime juice
24oz powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. buttermilk

When it was layering and frosting time Georgia wanted to help..wanted a bite...wanted anything that happened to fall her way.  I'm fairly certain she's saying "Please mommy, I've been a good girl all day."
I started layering the cake by putting a blob (1 blob = approx.1/2 cup) of frosting in the middle of a plate and spreading it around the center.  I placed the first cake on top and pressed it down into the icing so it would keep from sliding off the plate.  I then topped the first layer with a very thin veil of frosting followed by 1/2 of the apricot jam.  I did not end up with as much jam as anticipated, it turned out to be less of a filling and more of some fruity texture added on top of the icing in each layer.  It worked.
Frantic puppy eyes.
I placed the next cake on top and repeated the icing and jam and then placed the final cake on top and frosted the entire perimeter of the cake generously with the remaining lime butter cream.
This was my first attempt at baking a layer cake completely from scratch and the finished product turned out better than I anticipated.  The cake was very dense but with a nice soft texture and certainly not too sweet.  Because it was not overly sweet it meshed well with the super-sweet lime frosting; a couple small slivers after lunch was just enough to take care of my sweet tooth.  The funny thing is that after a couple days of sitting in the breakroom at work the cake somehow tastes better than it did the first day.  I don't know how to explain this except that maybe the lime in the frosting intensified and soaked into the cake??

Eventually, I intend on baking the Chabela Wedding Cake exactly as it reads in the book, (recipe here).  But for now I'm more than happy with this substitute.


  1. How cool!

    Did Georgia ever get some cake?!

  2. No cake, but I'm sure she lapped up the icing that flew out of the mixing bowl :)

  3. delicious wedding cake .
    Look 's like eating.
    Wedding happy

    Song Huyền xin chia sẻ các dịch vụ về wedding - cưới hỏi trọn gói như sau:
    - Dịch vụ trang trí đám cưới tại nhà Hà Nội - Tạo dựng một không gian cưới đặc sắc và độc đáo.
    - Dịch vụ cho thuê bàn ghế đám cưới - Với tông màu đa dạng, bộ ghế lịch sự.
    - Dịch vụ cho thuê nhà bạt đám cưới - Mang đến không gian cưới đẹp và sang trọng nhất.
    - Cung cấp dịch vụ cưới hỏi trọn gói Tuyết Mai - wedding.

  4. Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant .i love it reading. bakeries in prattville al