Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was a Princess Cake virgin! Two serious epicurean debaucherists - Sam and my flickr buddy, roboppy - both told me that princess cakes weren't on their daily dessert routine! I seem to remember Anne mentioning that she was a newbie in the princess cake field too.
So, let's get to the details!
The components of a princess cake are: 1. marzipan coating, 2. custard, 3. whipped cream, and 4. raspberry jam. As you can see from the picture of the spread we had yesterday, it looks like the raspberry jam is most frequently on the bottom layer. But as with all trends, some bakeries get adventurous and mix up the layering. The custard is frequently the main cream component and the whipped cream plays only a supporting role - although again, this is only a trend and bakeries have the liberty of having the custard and the whipped cream equally represented. The cake layer can also vary quite a bit from being firm to soggy, occupying different degrees of moist to wet in the spectrum.
My favorite of the many princess cakes I had was the slice from Ambrosia. The custard was silky smooth with a firm yet gently moist cake layer. What really stood out for me was the cake layer. It held together the jam and cream layers into one coherent experience. The marzipan layer also provided just the right sweetness and texture without any kind of leathery discomfort found in other marzipan layers. Ambrosia's cake reminded me of those perfectly coiffed starlets in the blistering heat. It retained its shape with perfection while others succumbed in the blaring summer sun.
The lovely afternoon of princess cake tasting ended with more plans of other epicurean tastings - like BBQ sauce tasting, tomato dish cook-off, and other fun things. Drop me a note if any of you Bay Area residents would like to join us for the next afternoon of tasty fun!