Blood Orange Bundt Cake + Pound Cake Talk

Pretty pink glazed Blood Orange Bundt Cake.  Tender with  a burst of citrus, be sure to make this blushing beauty while blood oranges are still in season!

Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze

I’ve embarked on a very important baking journey.  And since I am not quite there yet, I invite you all to join me on my quest to finding the perfect lemon pound cake recipe.  This Blood Orange Bundt Cake is pretty darn close to perfection, but the ingredients list feels a bit too lengthy for something so simple.  I’ve included the recipe for this gorgeous cake at the end of the post for those willing to go the extra mile (it’s totally worth it!), but let’s take a moment to talk about what I’ve discovered about perfecting pound cake so far…

Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze
Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze
Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze
Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze

I’m sure most of you already know this, but the Pound Cake first got its name because the original recipe was made up of a pound of each of the four main ingredients – butter, sugar, flour, and eggs.  In fact, any cake recipe that follows this 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 ratio will yield similar results.  But as recipes develop, over time many pound cakes have strayed from this exact ratio, like substituting a portion of the butter for oil or using egg yolks for a tenderer crumb.  Pound Cake purists might argue that only the original recipe is actually a Pound Cake, but I don’t know any of those people so let’s move on…

For a time longer than I can comfortably admit, I was so confused between pound cakes and Bundt cakes.  Okay, I might still be a little confused.  But to my understanding, the only real difference is the pan.  Bundt is actually a trademarked name by Nordicware and is more representative of the shape rather than the cake (since other types of cakes besides pound cakes can be made in the pan).  This got me thinking – does the texture of the cake change depending on the type of pan it is baked in? 

If you think about it, there is reason to believe that yes, the texture may change between a cake baked in loaf pan vs Bundt pan vs round layer cake pans.  They are all different shapes, hold different amounts of batter, and will require different bake times, so you could probably conclude that the results may vary.

In my own experiment, the deeper, heavily fluted Bundt pan (used for the cake in these photos), yielded a cake that was a touch denser and not nearly as moist as the same recipe baked in a more classic Bundt pan.  Not only did the more decorative cake need an additional 10 to 15 minutes in the oven, according to this article, the leavening agents probably had to work harder in the deep pan and may not have been as effective – resulting in a denser crumb.  Both were delicious, but the cake photographed did dry out faster than the other.

I brought up my concerns with Amy of Constellation Inspiration, and she admitted to having varying results after baking the exact same recipe once in a loaf pan and then again in a very detailed Bundt pan, thus further confirming my theory.  Pretty interesting, no?  So in my quest for finding the perfect lemon pound cake recipe, I’m left with this question – is there a universal recipe that works beautifully in both a loaf pan and a decorative Bundt pan without either being too greasy, dry, or heavy?  And what about a tube pan?  The quest continues, but please enjoy this Blood Orange Bundt Cake while blood oranges are still in season.  More to come...

Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze
Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Pink Glaze

Blood Orange Bundt Cake
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 blood orange
2 cups granulated sugar
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil
½ cup sour cream
½ cup whole milk
about ¼ cup fresh blood orange juice

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Liberally grease then flour all of the nooks and crannies of a Bundt pan and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth.  Meanwhile, rub the citrus zest into the sugar with your fingertips until fragrant.  Add the sugar (and zest) to the butter and cream together on medium-low until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes).

Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  With the mixer on low, add in the eggs and yolk – one at a time.  Add in the oil and mix until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bow.

With the mixer on low, carefully add in the half of the dry ingredients.  Once combined, add in the sour cream, milk, and orange juice.

Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix on medium-low until the last bits of flour are incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for only 10 to 15 minutes – or until just cool enough to lift the pan without burning your fingertips.  Place a cooling rack or cutting board on top of the cake (the bottom) and flip the cake pan right-side up to unmold the cake.  The cake should still be warm or it may stick to the pan if cooled for too long.  Loosen the edges gently with a flexible rubber spatula, but refrain from running a knife around the edges or you may cut into the sides of the decorative cake.

 

Blood Orange Glaze
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Whisk together the juice and sugar until they form a smooth, thick glaze.  Add more juice and/or sugar until desired consistency is achieved.

 

Are you an expect Bundt maker?  Please share your wisdom!!

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

Six layers of Classic Chocolate Cake sandwiched with sweet yet tart Raspberry Jam and covered with a lighter-than-cream-cheese-froting Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream.  Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!

Last week, my husband and I had a heated debate over conversation hearts.  Oh yes.  You read that correctly.  Those little pastel hearts with witty cheesey sayings on them that taste like chalk.  It actually wasn’t so much of a debate as a conversation because we were both on the same side.  In the end, the question wasn’t about if they were good or not but more about how much was too ridiculous to spend on shipping.

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!
Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!
Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!

You see, for some odd reason, we’ve only been able to find the sour Sweetarts kind.  Even purchasing the off-brand packages feels like conversation heart roulette – will they be the chalky variety where the yellow tastes like delicious fake banana and the white reminiscent of those old candy cigarettes from when I was a kid or will we be met with the disappointment of yet another fruity, slightly tart bag of heartache?  And don’t get us even started on those large ones that are equivalent to those gorss pumpkins in a sea of delicious candy corn.  No thank you.  The bottom line: we take our conversation hearts seriously in the Huff household.

What’s funny is, even knowing how much my husband loves simple things like convenient store candy and a really good chocolate chip cookie, I still find myself trying to go above and beyond (with little success thus far) when it comes to Valentine’s Day desserts.  We constantly have a partially eaten cake in the fridge at all times and there is usually a container full of sub-par cookies/brownies/pastries on the counter after that week’s recipe testing.  Dessert is something we have nearly every night as it is, so when it comes to birthdays and special occasions where a “normal” person that doesn’t make several cakes a week would bake a special treat, I try to make Brett something new and exciting instead of passing off my workweek’s leftovers.

The problem is, the desserts I’ve attempted to make in the past have been questionable, at best.  Sometimes in trying to come up with something creative and original you just get garbage.  I can recall the year I attempted heart-shaped raspberry s’more macarons (what?), the homemade candy bars with soupy peanut butter mousse filling (such a nightmare), and the disaster that was my first shot at making almond Florentines while tending to a four-week old.  Why do I love to torture myself like this?!?!  LOL.

This year I am committed to just making something that I know Brett already loves – that is, of course, if I can’t track down the right kind of conversation hearts.  He’s so sweet though.  Whenever I do have time to bake for “fun” and make something like chocolate chip cookies, he asks me to just make “regular” ones since, knowing me, he knows I can’t help try to switch up the recipe for no reason.  So, “regular” chocolate chip cookies it will be!  But with an extra pinch of Maldon sea salt, because I still have principals.

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!

It’s no secret that I already made this Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake a few weeks ago for The Cake Blog.  If it wasn’t cookies, then I would make this again.  They stand for the same thing – underrated, unassuming treats that (if done right) are pretty much all you could ever ask for from a dessert.  No fancy flavors.  No frills.  No unnecessary, complicated preparations.  I find that I’m constantly trying to out-do myself with the next best cake or new ingredient or elaborate decoration.  But sometimes, less really is more. 

The weekend I made this cake I also made a simple vanilla cake filled with strawberry jam for one of Everett’s pal’s 2nd birthday.  I was trying to appeal to toddler palettes and surprised even myself how tasty simple yet high-quality ingredients can be.  Or rather reminded myself.  The key was to slice each cake in half horizontally to make six layers that are then spread and sandwiched with sweet, fruity jam.  This way, the jammy goodness is more evenly distributed throughout and almost “melts” into each layer keeping them moist and flavorful.  Each bit was so good that I began questioning every thing I know about layers cakes (which is a lot) and if I should use buttercream as a filling ever again.  Mind blown.

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!
Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with jam and raspberry cheesecake buttercream.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!

Head on over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe (including the Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream Frosting!!!), and be sure to send in any tips for where one can locate chalky conversations hearts before the 14th <3

Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

Gold splattered French macarons filled with punchy pink peppercorn buttercream and luscious bittersweet chocolate ganache.  Perfect for this Valentine's Day!

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

In an effort to keep things unpredictable, “spontaneous,” spicy, and always some-what stressful, my husband and I typically make plans to cook from home on Valentine’s Day.  I say this jokingly, because every time we’ve done so in the past, there has been an unexpected “twist” to our perfect night in.  If you are looking for ways to keep the romance alive in your own marriage, try frantically Google-ing how to quickly thaw out an unexpectedly frozen chicken while tending to a 4-week old and trying to battle the impending gloom of a 10pm dinner while the risotto gets mushier by the minutes.

Or don’t – you probably shouldn’t, actually.  It’s up to you. 

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

This year, Valentine’s Day happens to fall on a Tuesday following a three-day weekend (here in British Columbia).  The chances of me wanting to throw together a super-fancy dinner over the weekend are high.  I’ll probably spend the next week in search of new recipes to try and make endless lists for groceries and prep work.  At the end of the day, I actually live for this stuff.  I love to cook and researching recipes is actually one of my favorite rituals to do in between putting the toddler to bed, taking the dog out, and getting ready for bed each night.

The problem is more of a matter of ambition.  I always want to try out something new.  And while I am huge supporter of pushing your own boundaries and trying new things, I tend to wait until the steaks are high – like trying to pull-off a 5-course meal (with hardly any prep work completed) on Valentine’s Day.  In such times, the only recipe I can really count on is the recipe for disaster: high stress + new recipes + unpreparedness.  Don’t be like me.

Earlier on in my career, making French macarons would have fit the bill perfectly.  In fact, I did try to pull-off heart-shaped macarons for Valentine’s Day the same year 85% of our kitchen was in boxes just days before the big move from California to Canada.  Not only did macarons still give me tremendous trouble at the time, everything else that was going on around created the perfect storm for disaster.

But back to this year and why I am rediscovering the macaron.  Instead of being overly ambitious with my meal prep or trying a new fancy recipe for the first time on a holiday, I plan to use tried and trusted recipes but with a special twist.  A favorite dish but with a new flavour variation or something with a simple preparations but made with heart and high-quality, seasonal ingredients.  I’m not sure what this means yet as far as an entrée for us this year, but for dessert – these Pink Peppercorn Ganache Macarons.  At this point, macarons aren’t nearly as stressful for me to make and I no longer see them as these fancy, unattainable pastries.  Yet, they do take time, practice, and preparation, so I don’t make them very often.  With that said, combined with this blushing pink and chocolately filling, they fit my new criteria for a special yet not overly fussy Valentine’s Day dessert.

 

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

Pink peppercorn in a dessert??!  If you recall this cake from back in the day, or the version that I recreated for my book Layered, then you know I love how the slightly peppery and faintly fruity flavors pair with sweets.  In a dessert, especially this buttercream, the crushed pink peppercorns pack an unexpected punch – but don’t worry, it’s not like biting into a pepper or anything.  The spice in a pink peppercorn is delicate and much more rounded (as opposed to sharp flavours of black pepper).

For me, the crushed pink peppercorns off-set the sweetness of the buttercream perfectly and the rich, fudgey centers make for the most divine bite(s).  I love how decadent bittersweet chocolate ganache can be, but feel free to use a semi-sweet variety if you are in search of something a bit lighter.  Valrhona Chocolate was gracious enough to send me a variety of their best chocolate feves to test out.  In this particular recipe, I favoured their 70% Guanaja chocolate, but if that sounds too rich to you, then go for the 63% Illanka chocolate.  Both are amazing!  A post about the wonders of Valrhona Chocolate would not be complete without mention of their Dulcey feves.  I’m not a huge white chocolate fan, but this blonde chocolate just might be heaven on earth.  Next time, I am definitely saving some plain macaron shells to fill with mounds of the caramelized white chocolate ganache goodness.

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

And last but not least – GOLD SPLATTER!  Because macarons shells can be quite finicky, I don’t like to add too much to the shell batter before baking.  Beyond some vanilla bean and/or a few drops of food coloring, I try to stay clear of too many additional ingredients that might disrupt the bake.  I’ve tried freeze-dried fruit powders and sprinkles, but they tend to yield inferior macarons (in my personal opinion).  A fun and easy way to dress up baked macarons shells is to add a little shimmer by way of gold splatter!  I have several little jars of gold luster dust leftover from my wedding cake making days, so I am always on the hunt for ways to incorporate the metallic powder into my desserts today.  As you could imagine, macaron shells hate water.  But mixed with a touch of vanilla extract or even vodka, gold luster dust turns into beautiful gold paint.  For the splatter effect, simply add just enough liquid to the luster dust so that it becomes slightly liquidy and not pasty.  Dip a clean brush into the mixer and use your finger to flick the bristles over the top of the macarons.  I love the imperfect, organic nature of this decorating technique – don’t you?

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

Pink Peppercorn Macarons
For the shells, I used this macaron recipe here.

Pink Peppercorn Buttercream
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, or to taste
2 to 3 drops pink food gel, optional

In the bowl of an electric mixer, lightly whisk together the egg whites and sugar.  Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.

Stirring intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until it registers about 155-160 on a candy thermometer.  Once hot, carefully transfer the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, or until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).  Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestal.

With the mixer on medium-low, add in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time.  Add in the vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth.  Add the crushed pink peppercorns and food coloring until desired taste and color is achieved.

At any point does the buttercream appear curdled, just keep mixing.  If the buttercream appears soupy, try placing it in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes then mixing again.


Chocolate Ganache
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (by weight), chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
pinch salt

Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside.

Place the cream in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Once hot, pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let stand 30 to 60 minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Add a pinch of salt and combine.

Allow the ganache to completely cool.  It will thicken over time.  Cooling may be sped up in the refrigerator, but be sure to stir every 5 minutes or so.  Remove from the refrigerator and use once the ganache has thickened and can be piped from a piping bag (about 20 minutes).


Assembly
Once the macarons shells are baked, let rest for a couple minutes out of the oven before removing the shells off of the hot baking sheets (wait until they are just cool enough to handle and don’t break apart).  Once cooled, match the shells together into pairs of the same size.

Fit two piping bags with medium round tips – around #8 or so (or just snip them with scissors to create smallish openings).  Fill the bags with the buttercream and cooled ganached.

Pipe rings of the buttercream around the edges of the bottom macarons shells.  Fill the centers with the ganache.  Place on the top shell and gently press together so that the buttercream goes to the edges of the cookies but does not spill out.  Place the filled shells on your work surface and splatter with the gold luster “paint.” 
 

Notes
The gold splatter can be slightly bitter, so don't get too carried away.
I always use Bob's Red Mill almond flour – It's the best!!  However, I failed to sift all of the flour before making this particular batch.  Don't be like me.  Sift, sift, sift!

 

Thank you to Valrhona Chocolate for supporting Style Sweet CA!

 

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

Delicate waves and intricate ruffles simply made from buttercream icing!

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

Hi All!  Thank you so much for all of the kind words regarding last week’s cake.  I hope the gluten-free part didn’t scare too many of you away, but also inspired those that are gluten intolerant to bake beautiful things.  Also, I am super relieved that you all seemed to like the new blue backdrop.  It’s not something I plan to use everyday, but glad to have something fun and a little out of my comfort zone to spice things up every now and then.  But what you really seemed to be excited about is the delicate wave/ruffle piping.  As promised, I will be sharing how to do it yourself!

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

I love experimenting with buttercream every change I get.  When I first started my career working with cake back in 2007, it was all about fondant and novelty cakes.  I found the most joy either spending hours on delicate sugar flowers or making a cake that looked like other food – a hamburger cake or a donut, perhaps.  Trends come and go, and I am so glad to see that buttercream has made a definite comeback and seems to be here to stay. 

I personally made the transition from fondant back to buttercream after I closed my bakery and moved to Vancouver.  I was no longer making wedding cakes and didn’t have room in our city apartment to keep all the tools and supplies needed for those types of cakes.  Plus, I had nobody to eat or order them.  I started gravitating towards interesting flavour pairings and buttercream textures because those were the types of layer cakes that I wanted to eat myself and ones that you home bakers would appreciate the most.

I feel pretty nerdy and so pretentious saying that cake decorating is an art form and buttercream is my medium of choice, but it’s true!  As a child and into my twenties, I used dance as my creative outlet.  Now I use sugar and butter.  Using just an offset spatula and various piping tips, it’s fun and challenging to come up with new textures.  This delicate wave/ruffle pattern just happens to be one of my new favourite designs.

About 5 years ago I made a very similar design, except it was made purely from fondant.  Each wave was ruffled by hand and then gilded with a bit of edible gold paint on the delicate edges.   It took forever.  By the time all the ruffles were added, the fondant had dried and hardened.  It was gorgeous, but you’d have to pick off all of that hard work just to get to the yummy cake inside – essential making it a time-consuming decoration and not necessarily an edible garnish.

Today’s version is so much tastier and takes only about 10 to 15 minutes.  No, seriously!  Once your cake is crumb coated and your buttercream already whipped, the piping is quite simple and fast.  Plus, the organic-ness of it all means that your waves don’t have to be perfect.  In fact, embrace the imperfection!

How to Make a Ruffle Cake
How to Make a Ruffle Cake

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

1.     Place the cake on a cake board of the same size.  Fill, stack, and crumb coat your cake in buttercream icing.  You do not have to fully ice the cake, but the crumb coat should be thick enough that the cake layers do not show through.  Finish off the top of the cake as normal.

2.     Fit a piping bag with a petal tip (I used #103 on this 6-inch round cake) and fill with buttercream.

3.     (optional) Place the cake board (and cake) on top of an upside-down bowl so that it elevates the bottom of the cake.

4.     Hold the piping bag parallel to the side of the cake, keeping the wide end of the piping tip towards the cake – slightly touching the crumb coat.

5.     Keeping consistent pressure, start piping ruffles from the bottom of the cake to the top.  Create long, curvy waves as well as short ruffles for more interest.  Stop pressure before pulling the piping bag away at the top.  Repeat.

6.     Continue around the cake – sometimes following the curves of the previous wave and sometimes mixing it up.  I prefer the ruffles to be fairly close together for a delicate look.

7.     I find that the waves look more natural if the begin slightly bellow the cake – hence why I elevate it.  Once you pipe waves all the way around the cake, take an offset spatula or paring knife to gently “cut off” the bottom excess without disturbing the rest of the wave.

8.     Use an offset spatula to carefully lift the cake and place on a serving dish or cake stand.  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Vanilla London Fog Cake

Layers of fluffy white cake using alternative grains are smothered in vanilla-flecked, Earl Grey infused buttercream before being engulfed in delicate crepe ruffles.  Happy 2017!

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

Happy 2017, everyone!  We are already on week 2 of the New Year, and I finally have something new to share with you today.  It’s a layer cake, of course, but it’s no ordinary cake.  Before you get nervous and start browsing elsewhere because of the title, let me tell you that I won’t be turning gluten free any time soon, nor will this blog.  This space will still be packed with wheat flour-driven recipes – as well as loads of butter and eggs, at times.  But 2017 is all about trying new things and pushing boundaries (for me, at least), so I thought I’d kick off the year with a little something different.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream
Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream
Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions – are you?  At the top of each year I always vow to just be a bit better – exercise more often, eat less cookies, try to keep better sleep habits, be more present with my son, love and forgive myself, etc.  You know, the things I should be trying to do all year, each year, but need a gentle reminder or “reset” after a holiday season full of indulgence.  I don’t actually write any of these things down, because 1) I generally already know what I am supposed to be doing to stay healthy and happy 2) I am not very good at sticking to a list of resolutions even though I know what’s best for me (see reason number 1) and will routinely still stay up to 1am watching Netflix or binge on pizza because I temporary “forgot” I was trying to be “good” and 3) failing to comply such lists interferes with the “love myself” part since I tend to be so hard on myself most of the time.

In addition to the above-mentioned healthy and happy habits, I do want to push myself this year.  I don’t need to go cliff divining to feel alive or anything crazy like that, but just to try new things – like finally making sourdough starter and finish decorating our not-so-new-anymore home.  Business wise, I want to push myself out of my comfort zone creatively and expand my recipe repertoire(see sourdough starter and gluten-free cake). 

What does that mean here on the blog?  I don’t know exactly what it all looks like, but there will for sure be artful, thoughtful imagery and delicious recipes.  In this instance, I challenged myself to put down my go-to white backdrop in favour of this bold, blue one.  I’m still not sure if I love it or loathe it, but I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t tried. I cringed the first time I opened the image files on my desktop, but Brett loved it and Amy called it “regal.”  Same goes for the some-what dramatic, busy piping. As I scroll through now, it is starting to grow on me…

And for you guys?  I hope you will join me.  I hope you will push yourselves to try out a few new recipes and follow along with my cake decorating tutorials.  Judging by how much more popular my How-To posts are, you are all already eager to learn and grow already.  I hope to make more creative cake designs with tips and tutorials for you to experiment with and call your own.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

As for the cake…Fear not, this is the most delicious gluten-free cake that has ever come out of my kitchen.  There have been a ton of flops – let me tell you.  In most of my past gluten-free “experiments,” I’ve simply just swapped out all-purpose flour for coconut flour or whatever else I happen to have at home.  Guys, it really doesn’t work that way.  Like other baked goods, gluten-free items still need balance when it comes to texture, structure, and flavour.  I am still learning myself, by thankfully the super-talented Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet did most of the work for us and put it all in her GORGEOUS book Alternative Baker.  I received a copy for Christmas and was eager to put some of her tips to the test.  I stocked up on a few alternative grains and hit the ground running.

Of course this cake doesn’t taste exactly like my standard butter cake recipe, but why should it?  It uses a trio of grains, white rice flour, oat flour, and millet flour, that not only provide a tender crumb and surprisingly fluffy texture, but also flavour!  I was still a bit hesitant when assembly the cake, so I split each layer in half and smothered them in my favourite Earl Grey buttercream from Layered.  It tastes soooo good!  Truthfully, I could have let the cake layers shine on their own, but that extra does of Earl Grey buttercream is heavenly. 

I’m in love with the flecks of real vanilla bean and little bits of tea within the buttercream.  Seriously, there is SO MUCH flavour to this frosting!  In my book, I paired it with a chocolate cake, poured a heavy portion of salted caramel sauce over the top, and called it a London Fog Cake.  When publishing, I wasn’t sure how popular this flavour combination would be.  To my surprise, it is definitely a fan favoroute!  Who would have thought?  A London Fog is a vanilla-sweetened Earl Grey tea latte.  Pairing the Earl Grey buttercream with a vanilla cake is actually a bit more indicative of the name, and I am so glad this version turned out to be just as delicious as my original cake.

Tune back in later this week to find out How to Make a Ruffle Cake!!

 

Gluten Free Vanilla Butter Cake
Adapted from Alternative Baker

1 ¼ cup white rice flour
½ cup oat flour (gluten free)
½ cup millet flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour three 6-inch round cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-low until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix on medium for 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add the oil and mix until combined.

Working one at a time, mix in the eggs and egg yolk.  Add the vanilla and mix until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients.  Once they are mostly combined, stream in the buttermilk.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined and smooth.

Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  The tops should be slightly golden.  Cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.  Wait until the cakes have completely cooled before slicing in half horizontally to create six layers (if planning to do so).

 

NOTE: This cake is fairly tender.  If you want to be safe, line the bottom of each cake pan with a parchment round for easier removal. 

 

Earl Grey Buttercream
From Layered

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup loose Earl Grey tea
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) egg whites, from about 4 to 5 large eggs
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or seeds from ½ vanilla bean

Place 1 cup 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 mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until is reached the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes.  Small bits of tea may remains 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 registers about 155-160 degrees 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 1 cup butter, a couple tablespoons at a time.  Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and bet until the buttercream is silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.

 

Stay tuned for a sweet GIF and tutorial for how to create the delicate crepe ruffle finish!