Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2011 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
"Petits fours" (PEH-tee fohr; puh-tee FOOR) are a wide variety of fancy, miniature baked goods, such as cakes, pastries, fancy cookies and sometimes marzipan or small chocolates, served with coffee, tea or a glass of wine. They are classy looking and delicious and are often served at special events, such as a Wedding, a bridal or baby shower, a special luncheon or just for fun. These are moist cakes, filled with raspberry jam, topped with a layer of marzipan and enrobed in almond/vanilla scented poured fondant.
CAKE RECIPE HELP
I use what is called the Two-Stage Mixing Method, to bring you a tender and moist yellow cake! I recently discovered through research, that in fact, the Pillsbury Company invented this method in 1945, which they called the Quick-Mix Method, as a way for home baker's to bake light and airy cakes. Crisco was used in their recipes at the time, and butter could be easily substituted, with the same result.
The Two-Stage or Quick-Mix Method works this way: Mixing the butter first directly with the flour and dry ingredients, coats the gluten-forming proteins in the wheat flour with fat, so when the wet ingredients, such as milk or buttermilk are added next, and the ingredients are mixed, very little gluten is formed. Plus, cake flour is low in gluten forming proteins, and it being bleached, toughens the protein molecules, enabling it to carry more than its weight in sugar and fat; cakes with bleached cake flour tend to be higher in sugar and fat, both tenderizers, than those without - that's why these cakes literally melt in your mouth!
You will need for this tutorial:
1 recipe Scratch Yellow Cake with Box Qualities, below
1 cup seedless raspberry or apricot jam
1 8 ounce tube of marzipan
1 recipe Poured Fondant for Cakes and Cookies, below
54 Fondant - Flower Toppers, dried, optional
STEP I: BAKE THE THREE PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS FROM THE SCRATCH YELLOW CAKE WITH BOX QUALITIES
SCRATCH YELLOW CAKE WITH BOX QUALITIES by Sarah Phillips / Recipe alone
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup whole milk, can be cold
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon almond extract or lemon or orange extract)
1 3/4 cups bleached cake flour (not self-rising); spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
Yellow, Deep pink, and Volet Americolor gel food coloring
Preheat the oven and prepare the pans:
1. Position the oven shelves in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
(If using dark, nonstick baking pans or ovenproof, Pyrex glass pans, be sure to reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees F).
2. Prepare three 9 x 9x 2-inch square cake pans:
Place one 9 x 9 x 2-inch square cake pan on top of a piece of parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil. The lead is nontoxic. Cut out the piece of parchment paper following the pencil marks as a guide.
Repeat with the two other pans.
Grease the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking oil spray. Repeat with the remaining two pans.
Line the pan bottoms with parchment paper, and grease, again. Set the three pans aside until needed in the recipe.
Mix the batter:
1. Remove the butter sticks from the refrigerator, and cut into approximately 10 - 12 evenly-sliced pieces each stick (24 pieces total). Set aside, and let soften slightly, but must remain cool.
2. In a one or two-cup measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout, add the milk, eggs and vanilla. Beat together with a fork. Set aside.
SARAH SAYS: I measure the milk in a one-cup liquid measuring cup and to it, I add the eggs and vanilla extract.
3. Sift the measured flour, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
4. Clamp on the mixing bowl and fit a paddle attachment to the mixer.
Add the sugar.
Mix on low, about 10 to 15 seconds to combine the ingredients. Make sure you get all of the ingredients mixed in from the bottom of the bowl.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon or piece at a time at a time into the flour mixture. Keep adding each butter-piece about 10 seconds apart, until all has been incorporated.
The butter should be evenly distributed throughout.
STOP mixing when the flour mixture begins to clump together and look moistened slightly. You should not see any butter pieces in the mixture.
6. With the mixer speed on low, add 1/2 of the egg/milk mixture slowly at the side of the bowl.
Mix until incorporated, taking about 5-10 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.
7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about a minute.
8. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining egg mixture in a slow steady stream at the side of the bowl.
When done, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.
9. Beat at medium speed until thoroughly mixed and light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will look fluffy and slightly curdled, it's ok.
Divide the batter evenly into three PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER batter portions. Dye each batter portion:
1. Place a medium size mixing bowl on a kitchen scale, then zero it out. Weigh the total batter.
2. Divide the total weight of the batter amount by three to determine how much each PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER batter portion should weigh.
NOTE: In my case, the total batter weighed 2 lb. 6 oz., so I divided the batter into 3 PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER portions weighing approximately 12.7 ounces each. Your weight will vary
depending on how well you aerated your batter (air adds weight) and the slight variances in your ingredient measurements.
3. Place a medium size mixing bowl on a kitchen scale, then zero it out. Weigh each PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER batter portion.
NOTE: In my case, each portion weighs 12.7 ounces.
4. Dye each PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER batter portion: one portion of batter pale yellow, one light pink and one light violet. Start with two drops of color for each.
You may need one additional drop to make the violet color stronger.
5. After adding in the first two drops of food color, stir the batter gently with a whisk, to distribute the color, taking care not to overmix.
6. Scrape PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER batter into its individual prepared pan, smoothing their tops as best you can.
Bake and cool the three PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS:
1. Bake the PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached but not batter. The sides will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake.
2. Remove the PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks, right-side-up, to cool thoroughly. Be careful, the cakes are delicate when warm.
Store cakes, well wrapped at room temperature for a few days. The cakes can be wrapped and frozen for a month or more. Thaw at room temperature in their wrappers.
STEP II: BUILD THE PETITS FOURS CAKE STACKS FROM THE BAKED PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS.
Trim cakes. Fill and stack:
You will need:
3 PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS, Step I
1 cup seedless raspberry or apricot jam
1 8 ounce tube of marzipan
1. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Trim the edges off all three PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS with a sharp serrated knife. Do not cut too much off, just the very edges of each one.
Each cake layers should measure 9- x 9-inches.
3. Cut each PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER in half, using a ruler as a straight edge. You will have six 9- x 4.5-inch PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYERS.
4. Place one 9 x 4.5-inch PETITS FOURS CAKE LAYER, such as yellow, on the parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
With a small offset spatula, spread about 1 heaping tablespoon of jam on over its surface to the very edges of the cake.
Place a cake layer of a contrasting color, such as blue, on top of the jam-topped yellow layer to create one two-layer, 9 x 4.5-inch filled CAKE STACK.
5. Repeat Step #4 with the 4 remaining cake layers, pairing cakes of contrasting color together. You should have a total of three two-layer, 9 x 4.5-inch filled CAKE STACKS.
NOTE: I paired blue tinted cake with pink, yellow with pink; yellow with blue.
Cover each filled CAKE STACK with marzipan:
1. Divide marzipan in three sections and roll each piece out, on a cornstarch dusted surface, to a rectangle of approximately 8.5- x 4-inches.
2.Spread the tops of each of the three CAKE STACKS with a thin layer of jam.
Starting with one CAKE STACK at a time, place the marzipan rectangle on top. Rub it gently with your palm to adhere.
Trim the marzipan with kitchen shears, or a sharp knife, to fit flush with the sides of the CAKE STACK.
3. Repeat Step #2 with the other two CAKE STACKS.
4. Place a sheet of parchment over the three CAKE STACKS, then place the bottom side of a baking pan on top of them.
The weight of the pan will help compress the cake stacks so they stick together better when you divide them into petits fours.
5. Wrap plastic wrap around both baking sheets - the top and the bottom ones - with the CAKE STACKS in the middle, like a sandwich. Do NOT compress the cakes while you do,
otherwise you will flatten them too much.
6. Place the entire contraption in the freezer for at least for 4 hours, preferably overnight so the CAKE STACKS harden and freeze; they will be easier to cut into individual Petits Fours in the next step.
STEP III: CUT THE CAKE STACKS INTO PETITS FOURS SQUARES. MAKE THE POURED FONDANT. GLAZE & ATTACH THE FONDANT FLOWER TOPPERS.
You will need:
3 Cake Stacks, frozen
1 Poured Fondant for Cakes and Cookies, below
54 Fondant - Flower Toppers, dried
Cut three frozen CAKE STACKS into 54, 1 1/4- x 1 1/4-inch PETITS FOURS SQUARES:
1. Remove pan with the three CAKE STACKS from the freezer and place one CAKE STACK on a small piece of parchment. Place the pan with the other two cake stacks back in the freezer.
2. Trim edges of the first CAKE STACK, using a sharp thin knife, so they are absolutely even. Do not trim too much, or you will end up having a lot of waste, and uneven sized PETITS FOURS SQUARES.
NOTE: I used a ruler that was exactly 1 1/4-inch wide. It allowed me to cut 18 evenly sized PETITS FOURS SQUARES that measured 1 1/4- x 1 1/4-inch each, from each CAKE STACK.
3. Cut three vertical rows and 6 horizontal rows, wiping knife between cuts, to keep crumbs to a minimum.
4. Repeat with the other two CAKE STACKS. Set the 54 cut PETITS FOURS SQUARES on a piece of parchment paper while you make the POURED FONDANT GLAZE. Cover Petits Fours with a large piece of parchment paper while you work.
Make the Poured Fondant Glaze:
Poured Fondant for Cakes and Cookies / Recipe alone
Makes about 6 3/4 cups, enough to cover 54, 1 1/4- x 1 1/4-inch PETITS FOURS SQUARES
3 pounds powdered sugar (about 12 cups), sifted
1 cup water
1/4 cup + 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Flavoring*- examples: 2 teaspoons clear vanilla; If you don't want the extract to color the fondant, clear vanilla is available from cake decorating shops. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract if not available.
*I tinted the fondant, so I used 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract.
Food color (optional): very small amount of green gel food coloring, Americolor
NOTES: After measuring, sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl.
1. Into a large saucepan, combine the powdered sugar, water, and corn syrup.
2. On low heat, stir the mixture, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth, to about 92 degrees F.
Use an Instant Read Thermometer to be sure it doesn’t go above 100 degrees F, or you will lose the sheen in the glaze when it dries.
3. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract.
4. Place the finished POURED FONDANT GLAZE in its pot into a large bowl of warm water, to keep it at about 92 degrees F longer.
NOTE: Change the water when you see the glaze beginning to thicken. Stir it to make the POURED FONDANT GLAZE smooth and uniform again.
Keep the icing warm while using, but
5. Add the food color in very small amounts, one drop at a time. The color becomes dark very quickly. remember to stir in the color thoroughly.
NOTE: I knew I wanted my POURED FONDANT GLAZE to be a very pale celadon green color, so I added a very small amount of green gel food coloring with a toothpick.
Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the warm POURED FONDANT GLAZE before storing. Fondant can be stored, tightly covered, in refrigerator for weeks. Reheat to about 92 degrees F to use again.
Glaze the 54 PETITS FOURS SQUARES with POURED FONDANT:
1. Place a wire cake rack over a clean baking sheet. Set aside.
2. Put one PETITS FOURS SQUARE on a fork at a time. Hold it over the pot holding the warm POURED FONDANT GLAZE.
Using a small ladle, pour a generous amount of glaze over the square, making sure to cover all the corners.
NOTE: POURED FONDANT GLAZE will start to thicken as you work. In that event, just place it back on the stove under low heat for a couple seconds or less, stirring constantly. If it is too thick, add a few drops of water at a time and stir while heating. Then, remove it immediately. Place the pot back into the bowl of warm water. If it thins, let cool a bit, while stirring until it thickens.
If you see thin crystals forming on top of the POURED FONDANT GLAZE as you work just stir them back in and you should be fine.
2. Gently tap the fork handle on the edge of the pan to remove most of the excess POURED FONDANT GLAZE, then scrape the bottom of the fork against the side of the pan to remove any dripping glaze.
3. Use a small offset spatula to help you place the petit four on the wire cake rack to dry. Dry the petit fours for at least an hour, until the fondant is dry to the touch.
4. Continue with the remaining PETITS FOURS SQUARES, making sure to stir the POURED FONDANT GLAZE if any crystals form on the top. Every once in a while, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the pan and stir any hardened glaze back into the pan. If the glaze begins to get thick, and it will, you may reheat the pan over LOW heat, stirring constantly, to thin it down again. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees F, measured with an Instant Read Thermometer, or you will lose the sheen.
5. After an hour or so, when the PETITS FOURS SQUARES begin to dry, use a small off-set spatula to help remove them from the rack. Then, trim the excess glaze off the bottom edge of each with a sharp paring knife.
6. Place each PETITS FOURS SQUARE into a mini cupcake paper.
Add the Fondant - Flower Toppers
1. Starting with one dried FONDANT FLOWER TOPPER, paint a small amount of water on the bottom of a blossom.
2. Then, set the FONDANT FLOWER TOPPER in the center of the glazed and dried PETITS FOURS SQUARE.
3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2, until all glazed PETITS FOURS SQUARES have been topped with FONDANT FLOWER TOPPERS.
Remove the Fondant Flower Toppers before storing. The Petits Fours Squares can be stored layered between strips of wax paper, for up to 1 week. They freeze well, layered between strips of wax paper, for a month or more. Thaw in its airtight container at room temperature.