I realize that I'm just under the wire on this one, and pretty darned lucky to be in the time zone I'm in at that! I procrastinated on the April cake because I was terrified... the Martha cake for April is petits fours. I've always thought of petits fours as something one might be served at a wedding or when going for tea - and I mean real tea - like high tea at Harrod's or something like that. It also seemed like a tremendous amount of work... making one cake can be tough, but making dozens of tiny cakes?!? I presumed this would only be something a professional baker could or should undertake. So, I waited until the last possible moment to get this one made, and I'm happy to say that my fears were largely unfounded.
Let's get down to brass tacks... the recipe for April is Spring Shower Almond Petits Fours, and as usual, some special items were required to make it just as she had it photographed in the magazine. First off, the recipe is supposed to be cooked in a 12" x 17" baking pan, but I already had a 12" x 18" pan which I anticipated would work just fine - so what if my layers are a tiny bit thinner! The recipe also called for gum paste cherry blossoms to decorate the tops of the finished cakes. I was not quite ready to shell out that much money for a cake we'd just be eating ourselves, so I planned on coming up with an alternate decorative plan.
The mixing and baking of the cake went just fine, and then it was time to assemble the layers. I cut the cake in half, spread cherry preserves on one half, and stacked the other cake half on top. After chilling the layers for a bit, I cut them into 1.5" squares (more or less - or good enough for government work!).
It was now time to glaze them with the sugar glaze. This was by far the most time consuming and frustrating part of the process... each petits fours is supposed to be completely covered with the glaze, and this is much more difficult than it sounds! It took me (and Jerry for part of the process) at least 1.5 hours to get them fully covered in the glaze. Now I know why Krispy Kreme has a conveyor belt system for glazing all their doughnuts!
Here is the glazing in process:
After they were glazed and chilled for a bit, I decided on a simple decorative touch - running a thin stream of glaze over them in a contrasting color. And so, here we have the finished product:
I know... still not as elegant and sophisticated as Martha's, but I don't have the staff of bakers and food stylists that she does! How did they taste? Well, I think both Jerry and I were ready to love them - we're both huge fans of almond-y stuff (can't get enough marzipan around here!), and almond and cherry is a fantastic combination. These definitely lived up to our expectations - very moist cake (thanks to the almond paste) and the cherry filling was not too sweet or too heavy for the tiny cakes. We give these petits fours 2 thumbs up, especially with a nice cup of tea in hand. And, other than the long glazing process, these really weren't to difficult to make! Maybe I'm ready to host a nice, formal garden tea party, complete with crumpets and petits fours!