Talk about a major case of the Tuesdaze. Is that a thing? My inbox is overflowing, I still haven't fully unpacked my suitcases, and need to start packing again for a quick trip up to Napa, and yet, I baked a cake. And some chocolate chip cookies, made with the raddest chocolate chips out there. Well, I didn't actually bake the cookies, except for one just to make sure the dough was good. They instead went into the freezer and will soon be delivered to the parents of a beautiful newborn baby boy. Meanwhile, I've been subsisting on cheese quesadillas, yogurt parfaits with Gaviota strawberries, and copious amounts of Double Black Lucky Jack Nitro Cold Brew Coffee (so necessary). Basically, apart from the baking, I've reverted back to college lyfe.
Luckily, my baking has not reverted back to collegiate levels thanks to the magic that is Layered, Tessa Huff's new book. It's all about cakes, layered cakes to be exact, and goodness it sure is pretty. If you're familiar with Tessa and her beautiful blog Style Sweet CA, you'll know that she can teach you (and me) a thing or two about baking a cake. Ok, understatement, she's the queen of cakes!! Whenever I click over to her site, I always leave wanting to bake a big beautiful cake or at least eat one.
So when her book arrived, I pretty much dropped everything, including my suitcase(s), and started bookmarking all the pages. I may as well just start at the beginning because I kinda wanna bake everything. But for now, I skipped around and mixed and matched a couple of recipes. I made the Yellow Butter Cake from her Birthday Cake, the Earl Grey Buttercream from her London Fog Cake, and the crumbles (Earl Grey-ified) from her Riesling Rhubarb Crisp Cake. And then, I was so inspired by Tessa's Yuzu Citrus Cake, decorated with gorgeous petals, that I went there. I've never tried my hand at a petal finish and despite the fact that I forgot to pour myself Molly's recommended glass of wine, the petals were more or less a success. It does take a bit of time, hence, the wine, so if you're in a rush, go with some rustic vibes!!
PS - I owe you all a few updates: Maui, Oahu, and Nashville, so look out for those! They're coming super soon. :D
YELLOW CAKE W/ EARL GREY CRUMBLES & BUTTERCREAM
Makes 1 8" 3 layer cake
- 3¼ c. (425 g) cake flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 c. (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 c. (400 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1½ c. (360 ml) whole milk
- 1/2 c. (45 g) quick cooking rolled oats
- 1/4 c. (25 g) sliced almonds
- 1/4 c. (55 g) firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 c. (30 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- ½ tsp. ground earl grey tea
- ¼ tsp. salt
EARL GREY BUTTERCREAM
- 2 c. (450 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 c. (12 g) loose Earl Grey tea
- 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. (150 ml) large egg whites
- 1 1/4 c. (250 g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- Stand mixer
- 3 8-inch round cake pans
- Parchment paper rounds
- Silicone spoonula/wooden spoon
- Large saucepan
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Glass measuring cup (for liquids)
- Cooling rack
- Mixing bowls
- Offset spatula
- Piping bag fitted w/round tip
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3, 8-inch round, cake pans and line with parchment circles.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
- Turn the mixer to medium-low and add egg yolks, one at a time followed by vanilla bean paste. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium speed for no longer than 30 seconds after the last streaks of the dry ingredients are combined.
- Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, brown sugar, flour, butter, honey, ground Earl Grey tea, and salt with a wooden spoon until combined. The mixture should resemble clumps of sand. Sprinkle it over the lined baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway through, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool and crumble the mixture into smaller pieces.
EARL GREY BUTTERCREAM
- Place 1 cup (225 grams) of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine-meshed sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until it reaches the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160°F on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
- With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea infused butter, and remaining 1 cup (225 grams) butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, level them and choose which layer will be the bottom (tip: pick the sturdiest layer). Place it on a cake plate, turning table, or serving dish. Spread on 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat, ending with the third layer . Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream and refrigerate it until set, 15 to 20 minutes.
- To create a petal finish in a pattern similar to the cake pictured, crumb coat the cake then transfer the remaining buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe large dots in a single column then use an offset spatula to gently pull the frosting straight across to the right to create a petal shape. Repeat until cake is completely covered.
- Serve and enjoy!