Got a couple slices of the princess cake at Victoria Bakery yesterday, and thought I'd post back for those who are as or more fanatical than I am about this cute little cake.
Victoria's version didn't stand up to the ones at either Schubert's or Copenhagan. Let's deconstruct:
Marzipan: Victoria's marzipan was at least twice as thick, and had the gritty texture of granulated sugar. I thought the first bite was "interesting," but quickly grew tired of the texture. The thick marzipan was also fairly dry; in the past I've noticed that thin, moist marzipan sort of stretches as you break into the cake, and it melts in your mouth and infuses everything with almond flavor. The thick marzipan cracked under my fork, I had to chew it into smaller and smaller chunks, then distribute it with my tongue to make sure every bite had almond taste in it. The marzipan was also a few shades too dark to be pretty, IMHO.
Cake: this cake is of that class of cakes that oozes sugary wetness with every bite (it was probably brushed with a sugary liquid after baking). I'm not saying that's bad, but it is very sweet when paired with Marzipan. The bottom layer of cake was also a little soggy, perhaps due to the effects of gravity after the cake sat in the counter awhile.
Jam: I like Schubert's jam layer the best, so I'll use that as comparison. Schubert's is a moist layer of dark berries that manages to retain its jamlike qualities. What I mean is it doesn't seep into the cake even though it's a gloppy layer of fruit. Victoria's jam layer was made of lighter colored berries, and closer to the consistency of quince paste. Still, much of the jam had seeped downward into the bottom layer, adding to the sogginess I mentioned above.
Custard: The real loser. The custard tasted like it was made with gelatin or packaged pudding instead of cream and eggs.
Whipped cream: while not bad, it wasn't good either. Those of you who can tell really great whipped cream from boring plain whipped cream know what I mean. It's hard to describe what's good about really good whipped cream, but when you taste it you know it.
Schubert's cake also had the added bonus of a healthy dose of rum.
Overall, Victoria's cake was strange because it managed to be too moist (the cake) and too dry (the jam and marzipan) at the same time. It was also more sugary. Actually, the princess cake there made me realize some things I'd probably do wrong if I ever tried to bake my own. The mistakes made seemed like traps a home cook could easily fall into.
So far, my modest princess cake results are:
3. Victoria Bakery