Category Archives: Black and Whites

Black and Whites: Second Try

There we go. Now that looks more like something you’d see in a Manhattan pastry case, no? Forgive me but I couldn’t leave these alone until I’d gotten a little closer to the ideal. Actually this was my fourth try, as it took three attempts to get the cake where I wanted it. This last pass was all about finishing. What did I do differently? For starters I trimmed the cookies perfectly round with a round cutter after they cooled, like so (four inches worked perfectly for most of them).

Then I used the spoon-over method I described below for the fondant, thinning the stuff just a bit more more than I did the first time (I added a few instructions for that below). Lastly I used a darker cocoa. No, that’s a lie, I actually added a drop of black food coloring to the chocolate fondant to darken it. So sue me. Irrational fear of the Dutching process has made really dark cocoa tough to find these days.

Next time I’ll focus on not letting my fondant get over 100 degrees Fahrenheit so I can get a glossier coat!

Filed under:  Black and Whites, Pastry | 12 Comments

Making Black and Whites

Repeat after me: black and whites are cakes, black and whites are cakes, black and whites are cakes. Got that? Whew! Now maybe the New Yorkers will get off my back and let me eat my cookies in peace!

These aren’t difficult once you have the fondant in hand, and I do recommend making actual poured fondant since the effect is much creamier than with simple sugar-and-water icing. Something about the way the smooth fondant melds together with the hint of lemon in the cake…it really makes these. Indeed the classic versions are much more interesting than the newfangled jobs made with real chocolate coatings or rich frostings. These, in my opinion, are the Cadillacs.

Start by assembling your ingredients and preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Start the batter by sifting your flours together in a medium bowl.

Add the salt, baking powder and lemon zest…

…and whisk everything together.

Now combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of your mixer.

Cream them together until they’re fluffy and then beat in the eggs one by one, for about 15 seconds each.

Scrape that bowl and beat the mixture about 20 seconds until it’s very light. Scrape.

Now add a third of the flour…

…followed by half the milk-vanilla mixture, and continue like that until everything is incorporated.

Don’t forget to scrape!

Apply dollops of the batter to two parchment paper-covered sheet pans, six on each one. Make them as round as you can.

Bake them for ten minutes, rotate the pans, and bake another ten. They’ll spread out and look quite blonde, but that’s what you want.

Why? Because you don’t want the caramelized bottoms to show through the icing, at least the vanilla side. Below is as dark as you want to let them get on the bottoms. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Meanwhile put a batch of white fondant in the top portion of a double boiler, melt it over simmering water. Spike it with a teaspoon of vanilla and thin it with about two teaspoons of water until it runs like light cream. It’s easiest to work right over the pan of warm fondant.

You want to ice the cakes on one side with vanilla of course. Here I used an icing spatula, though I quickly realized this wasn’t the best way to get a smooth coat. Better, I determined, to hold the cake over the pan, tilt the flat face toward me, and spoon the fondant onto them, letting it run down one side. The fondant should be thick enough so that coats, but not so thick that it firms up before you can go back for a quick patch-up if you don’t get whole side in one go. If you’re getting bumps or clumps, or it’s firming before it even runs off the cake, add another teaspoon or so of water.

I apologize for not showing this but it was too involved an operation to photograph with one hand, especially in cool air. You’ll have to let your imagination run wild with this one, K?

Anyway, do all the vanilla sides first and set them aside to cool. Meanwhile melt another batch of white fondant on the double boiler and stir in a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder. The darker the cocoa the blacker the black and white. Repeat the operation on the un-iced sides of the cakes.

And that’s all there is to that, really.

Filed under:  Black and Whites, Pastry | 17 Comments

Black and Whites Recipe

Black and whites tend to be a little firmer and less rich than actual pieces of layer cake, which would tend to fall apart during the icing step and when they’re handled generally. They’re also a touch less sweet since they get a thorough coat of icing over the top. To make them you’ll need:

5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) cake flour
6.25 ounces (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) butter, softened
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Poured fondant and chocolate poured fondant for icing

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flours into a medium bowl. Combine the milk and the vanilla. Add the baking powder, salt and zest and whisk to combine. Next, place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the beater and turn it on to medium low. Add the sugar in a steady stream and turn it up to medium high until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then turn the machine down to low. Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternative with the milk mixture. Spoon roughly 1/3 cup quantities of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely while you warm the white fondant. Ice the bottom (flat side) white on one side then allow them to cool and set while you warm the chocolate fondant. Ice them on the other side and again let them cool to set. They’re best when eaten the next day.

Filed under:  Black and Whites, Pastry | 19 Comments