Hospitality @ Home: Margarita Cake


the basic ingredients of a seriously awesome margarita

My sister and her fiancee have decided on a cake flavor for their wedding (in about a week!).

Since they officially got their marriage license and had their union legalized in Iowa on Cinco de Mayo, I jokingly mentioned that we should make a margarita cake. I was banking on one of them saying “oh, no. let’s just do white cake with lemon curd, something really simple….” but as fate would have it, they loved the idea.

you can’t make a margarita cake, without a margarita

So now I had to find a recipe for said margarita cake…..

A Google search yeilds many recipes that begin with “1 package of white cake mix, 1 cup bottled margarita mix….”

Full disclosure: there was a time when my culinary wanderings began, in high school, where many of my concoctions began with the grand church supper tradition of kicking up a cake mix. You know the recipes passed around potlucks, the ones that start with a box of jiffy white cake mix, add a can of drained crushed pineapple, a pouch of instant vanilla pudding mix, and a carton of cool-whip.

close-up cross section of cake

Those early kicked-up-cake-mix-cakes are full of weird multi-syllabic ingredients but are also packed with nostalgia. Maybe all those preservatives add an umami that can’t be replicated.

Even so, for a wedding cake, this whole thing needs to be elevated somehow. So I found a recipe from a 1999 Bon Apetit magazine for a Margarita Chiffon cake, that I tested with a strawberry curd filling, iced with a swiss meringue buttercream.

I enjoyed a slice myself for breakfast, then brought the rest of the 10″ cake to the restaurant to be tested by the widest range of palates.

I couldn’t get a photo before the cake was attacked by rabid badgers, but here was what was left by the time I got the camera out of my office.

I guess they liked it…..

post badger-ing

If this cake can withstand a pre-mother’s-day-brunch wait-station mauling, that bodes well for it’s structural integrity. But it looks like I need to revisit proper cake cutting technique with my staff….

when cutting a cake, speak softly and carry a big knife

Recipes after the Jump….

Margarita Chiffon Cake 
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup triple sec
2 tablespoons tequila
2 teaspoons grated lime peel

8 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat yolks and next 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until smooth.
Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in another large bowl until soft peaks form.
Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites. Transfer batter to ungreased 10-inch-diameter cake pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Immediately invert cake onto cooling rack and cool with pan on top.
After cooling for about an hour, run long knife around the sides of pan to loosen cake. Invert cake onto platter.

Strawberry Curd

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries (frozen & thawed will work, too)
  •  3/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 tablespoons  cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large  egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup  butter, cut into pieces
1. In a blender, process strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar until smooth.
2. In a heavy saucepan, combine yolks and cornstarch, whisk until smooth. Add strawberry puree. Cook over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes, or until very thick, whisking constantly.
3. Remove from heat; gradually add butter, whisking until melted. Cool mixture slightly; cover and refrigerate for 2 hour before using.

Note: if using as a cake filling, pipe a “barrier” of buttercream around the edge of the cake before filling with curd. This will keep the curd from squishing out the sides and messing up your frosting. I also chilled the “curded” layer for about 20 minutes before placing the next layer on top.

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