Happy 2nd Birthday, Layered! My first cookbook turns 2 today, and I am celebrating with this Hummingbird Cake with cream cheese frosting. Super-moist cake made from bananas, pineapple, and pecans, this southern classic is totally underrated but definitely worth being celebrated. An alternative to carrot cake, the lightly spiced layers of cake are the perfect vehicle for luxurious, vanilla cream cheese frosting. Are you drooling yet? Yummmm!!Read More
The Earl Grey buttercream that surrounds this stunning layer cake is as sweet and smooth as its drink namesake - the London Fog latte. Layers of classic chocolate cake are filled with this tea and vanilla-flecked frosting before being drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
Let me tell you the little story about my small obsession with black tea… Years ago, probably about a decade or more, I vacationed in the UK. I’d toured Europe once before as a teenager on a crazy three-week long adventure with my family and grandparents (a story in itself for another day), but this time we spent out time exploring just London and Edinburgh. Nearly daily, we tried our hand at afternoon tea – really just an excuse to sit al fresco at a café and soak it all it. Traditional English breakfast tea quickly became a favorite for me, especially with lots of milk and sugar.
During the trip, I picked up the most aromatic, creamy almond black tea from Covent Gardens. Today, I still dream of that tea! I brought a package home, savouring each sip and reminiscing about my travels. I think I shed a tear the day my spoon hit the bottom of the crinkled bag and only loose tea dust and almond essence spilled out onto to my sad, sad kitchen counter…
Since then, I’ve been collecting tea, desperately trying to find something as satisfying as that almond tea. It’s turned me into somewhat of a tea hoarder – an entire section of my pantry devoted to all different types of tea. I’ve never found anything close (and at this point, I’ve probably but that tea so high on a pedestal that even if I found it again, I wouldn’t notice), but then there is always Earl Grey tea.
My love for Ear Grey tea runs pretty deep. And as I quote from “Layered” (because I am cheesy like that), “some drink it black or with a simple slice of lemon, but I can’t ever pass up an Earl Grey tea latte, called a ‘London Fog’.” So robust, yet ordinary, with its district yet subtle citrus flavour from the oils of a bergamont orange – add some steamed milk and sweeten it up with some vanilla syrup and you’re golden.
In a book of 60 different cake combinations, this London Fog Cake is definitely in my top five. Top 3 – maybe (it’s like picking your favorite child!). When it came to the official Online Book Release Party for "Layered," I couldn't help but participate myself. I re-created this cake for The Cake Blog last week. Here's a bit more of what I have to say about it:
"Tea-flecked and silky smooth, Earl Grey buttercream is slathered between layers of classic chocolate cake before being blanketed over the entire thing. The cake layers themselves are extremely moist and versatile – the quintessential cake to fulfill any chocolate craving. To top it all off, homemade Salted Caramel Sauce! Any recipe that calls for boiling sugar might sound a little scary, but it really isn’t as hard to make as you might think. Several of the recipes throughout the book call for this staple recipe, and once you make your own, you’ll abandon the store-bought stuff for good. Trust me, fudgy chocolate cake, creamy Earl Grey, and salted caramel – it doesn’t get much better than this!"
As a first-time author, I really had no idea what to expect this week. For those of you who might have missed the news, “Layered” was officially released on Tuesday! For the most part, it’s been a typical week – going to the park with Everett, changing diapers, trying to get my wild dog to behave in public, tackling the piles of laundry, etc. On the other hand, I’ve received so much love and support that I don’t even know what to do with myself in between the madness that is life with a toddler. THANK YOU ALL soooo much!
With so many other amazing cookbooks getting released each week and competing for shelf space with mega cookbook celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth, I tried not to get my hopes up – not that I have any idea what even constitutes “good” book sales. But, while it only lasted 48 hours, “Layered” had a little “#1 Best Seller” tag next to its title on Amazon. I could not be more thrilled!! Even though I was quickly bumped to #2 by a cake book that is just about the complete opposite of “Layered,” I am so amazed by all the love my little dream book has garnered so far.
Besides hitting “refresh” on my Amazon page and waiting for Oprah or Martha to call (they haven’t yet – fingers crossed!), I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing the most beautiful cakes create by some of my favorite cake makes and online pals. I kindly asked a selection of bloggers to recreate a recipe from my book to share with their readers in honor of the release. An Online Book Launch Party, so to speak.
Everyday this week I’ve been completely blown away by their STUNNING creations!!! Each one is gorgeous and I am so blessed to have such an incredible online support system. Seriously – bloggers are the best!! Not only did they all donate their time making a cake and writing a post (these aren’t quick recipes either), they volunteered their creativity. What I love most is that each cake is so different, and even though they followed the same recipes, I can see the personality and style of each maker in their cakes. How cool is that!?!?!?
Adrianna’s Birthday Cake and its #sprinklefade is everything! So thrilled to officially e-meet you, Adrianna! Now I can stalk photos of Amelia (her adorable corgi) without feeling like a total stranger.
Alana’s Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Crumbles and Buttercream takes the best of several different recipes and combines them into one amazing creation with the most perfect petal buttercream finish. And the GIF! A must see!
Aimee’s dark ‘n moody Floral Zucchini Cake. She is one of the sweetest dessert bloggers around and her photos of this cake are stunning!
Amy’s Lemon Zucchini Cake is beyond gorgeous. Topped with an array of beautiful flowers, this was Amy’s first post she photographed herself! I couldn’t be more proud of the results. (please don’t hate me for disclosing this – you truly are amazing)
Betty’s Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream sounds so fresh and vibrant. I am dying to try the lemon buttercream! Betty will tell you that she is a beginner cake maker, but I’m calling her bluff. This cake is gorgeous!! The work of a pro =)
Billy's cross between The Birthday Cake and the Banoffee Tiramsiu. The perfect cake mash-up! Also, click here to see his AMAZING flamingo variation. Seriously, go check it out.
Cynthia’s Mini London Fog Cakes + Cupcakes literally made my jaw drop all the way to the floor. There’s something so inviting about her photography, and these pics make me want to grab a seat at her dining table a shovel cupcakes straight into my mouth – in the most graceful way, of course. And I love how she made cupcakes, too!
Heather’s Sprinkle-Covered Birthday Cake – my SprinkleBakes dreams have officially come true! I’m a long-time fan of Heather’s work, and I am so honoured to have her as part of the Online Release Party!
Izy's mash-up including my Lemony Zucchini Cake with fan fave Earl Grey Buttercream. The citrus undertones sounds soooo tasty! Once again, Izy proves she is a culinary wizard!
Jocelyn's beautiful Resiling Rhubarb Cake! Better freeze some rhubarb so you can make this stunning cake all year round. Jocelyn is kind of a super-star and I am beyond grateful for her support.
Laura’s London Fog Cake has the most perfect caramel drip I’ve ever seen. Can you see my face salivating in the reflection? Laura has been so unbelievable kind, and I can’t wait until her book comes out later this year.
Lily's Lemon Zucchini Cake with a healthy twist using HONEY! Lily, you are such a sweetheart. Thank you!
Lyndsay’s Drippy Birthday Cake is so stinkin’ cute! It has the perfect amount of Coco Cake flair with its pink ganache drips and gold accents. I can’t thank Lyndsay enough for her tender soul, amazing friendship (even though she is way cooler than me), and for sharing her undeniable talent with the world.
Marce’s London Fog Cake. Her cakes are so amazing that I even activated my Snapchat account just to see her behind the scenes. No joke. And neither is this cake. It’s beautiful!
Michelle’s Chocolate and Earl Grey London Fog Cake is absolutely heavenly. I love her airy, dreamy photos! And I (not so) secretly want to be as cool and talented as Michelle. Everything that comes out of that tiny SF apartment kitchen of hers is pure perfection!
Nik's stunning Birthday Cake shot in his award-winning photography style. Sooooo pretty! Swirly fudge had never looked so good.
Sarah’s Double-Chocolate Fudge Cake is lick-your-screen drool-worthy! Her frosting is epic! Like, I want to dig right in and never look back. Sooooo good!
Sarah’s Chocolate Tiramisu Cake is elegant, romantic, and down-right delicious. I love Sarah’s ethereal style, and this cake is no exception. She combined a couple different recipes from the book and the result is this masterpiece.
Thalia’s French Opera Cake is 6-layers of breath-taking beauty. Thalia has one of the kindest, most beautiful souls – no wonder her work is magical!
I cannot thank you all enough. I was a bit hesitant to reach out to many of you at first (some who I have never even met before!) because I know how busy everyone is, but the results are phenomenal! Plus, I even made some new friends in the process! Thank you all for supporting me (and each other). What an amazing community we’ve got here!
I’ve been anxiously anticipating this day for nearly two years. From the first recipes suggested to my literary agent to the final edits made on the images, it seems like I’ve been waiting forever for my book to be released out into the real world.
Time to throw confetti (or sprinkles) and celebrate with this Unicorn Cake – because dreams really do come true.
I always read about people referring to their first book as their babies. But for someone who created both a baby and a book at the same time and delivered her baby a year before the book was ever released, I can’t really relate to the analogy. With a baby, everything is a learning process. Each day, both Everett and I try to communicate better, respect one another, and learn a bit about patience from each other. We are discovering how to deal with new emotions like disappointment and frustration lately as he develops into an opinionated toddler. I try to teach him to be a good little human and he let’s me know if my tactics are working or not, haha. At the end of the day, I love him unconditionally because even if he threw a tantrum in public, we can always come home and try again the next day.
With a book, everything is finite. At some point, there is a print date where you just have to be done. Since I am still constantly learning as both a cake designer and photographer, this was a hard deadline to swallow. At the end of the day, the book will be out in the wild for anyone to pick-up, read, enjoy, hate, love, criticize, etc. There is no turning back. There is no trying again the next day with better snacks and a longer nap to help keep baby happy.
This time last year, I’m not sure what terrified me more – trying to keep a tiny infant alive or knowing that one day my words and photos would be in print for the world to see. Thankfully, fear is a great motivator to get things done right, and I am confident that some of my best work lies between the pages of “Layered.” Also, like babies, I think critics can sense fear; so today I wear my big-girl pants and will scream from the rooftops, “LAYERED IS HERE!”
I’ve been fortunate to be able to live out so many of my dreams so far. I opened my dream bakery at 24, had my dream wedding (and husband) at 26, moved to my dream city at 29, and gave birth to my dream bebe at 30. None without a lot of hard work and patience, but I undoubtedly know how lucky I am and am beyond grateful everyday.
I’ve been enamoured by cookbooks ever since I got into cooking during my college years - my ever-growing cookbook collection confirms it. It wasn’t until I was getting ready to close the doors of my bakery and move to Vancouver that the idea of writing my own even popped into my brain. Ever since then, it’s been a goal I couldn’t quit. I’ve been dreaming of the day where a hardcover book filled with glossy images, the name on the spine reading ‘Tessa Huff’ would sit on bookstore shelves next to some of my baking idols like Greenspan, Tosi, Beranbaum, and Stewart for years.
I’ve always loved the quote “Dreams don’t work unless you do,” and this proves again that they certainly can come true!
The name of this cake was inspired by blogging dessert queen Naomi of Baker’s Royal. She recently made unicorn cupcakes topped with rainbow buttercream, gold leaf, and about 50 different kinds of sprinkles. Since then, I’ve wanted to make my own version of a “unicorn” cake that was a bit over-the-top and whimsical – something to really celebrate with. The result? Stripes, sprinkles, sugar pearls, and gold leaf! And for the cake flavour? The rhubarb crisp filling from my Riesling Rhubarb Crisp Cake in “Layered.”
Yellow Cake Recipe
Using this recipe, but baked in three 6-inch rounds for about 24 to 26 minutes.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) eggwhites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar briefly by hand. Place a few inches of water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. Heat egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 F degrees on a candy thermometer – or until hot to the touch. Once hot, remove the bowl and carefully return it to the electric mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, mix on high until medium-stiff peaks, or the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature – about 8 minutes. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and butter – a couple tablespoons at a time. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.
1 ¾ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup fresh rhubarb, cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook them over medium-high heat, stirring intermittently with a wooden spoon, until the juices start to bubble. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fruit starts to break down. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 1 ½ cups of the buttercream until silky smooth. Add 1⁄3 cup of rhubarb compote (reserve the rest for serving) and mix until combined.
½ cup quick- cooking oats
¼ cupsliced almonds
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
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, cinnamon, 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 to make cutting the cake easier.
Once the cakes have completely cooled, level them and choose which layer will be at the bottom. Place it on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on about ¾ cup of the rhubarb buttercream with an offset spatula. Sprinkle it with about a 1⁄2 cup of the oat crumble. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the buttercream and remaining crumble, finishing with the final layer. Frost the top and sides cake with the remaining vanilla buttercream.
Use an icing comb on the frosted cake and chill for about 15 minutes to firm up the ridges. Tint a portion of the remaining buttercream pink, and fill in the gaps of the chilled cake by icing right over it. Clean up the sides by using an icing smoother or bench scrape to reveal the stripes.
To create the top portion of the cake, I used a closed star tip to pipe spirals of frosting around the edges. Using a different color, I piped a second row of spirals on top. For the bottom border, I piped individual rosettes. Use tweezers or the tip of a parking knife to apply the edible gold leaf.
Citrus and herbs go hand in hand in this vibrant Lemon Thyme Cake. Light lemon cake if flecked with fresh thyme and layered with lemon buttercream. Add a ripple of homemade lemon curd for an extra pop of flavor and decorate with fresh thyme for a simple, rustic look.
Perhaps one day my well of cake ideas will run dry, but thankfully that day is not today. Being able to incorporate seasonal ingredients and savoury herbs into sweet treats keeps the creativity following, and today I am happily sharing this Lemon Thyme Cake.
I am not a rookie when it comes to incorporating more savoury elements into my cakes, however I think I've only scratched the surface when it comes to herbaceous sweets. My go-to is to infuse herbs into a simple syrup that gets generously brushed onto each cake layer. This time, I took a step further and added freshly chopped thyme straight into the cake batter.
Adding the fresh thyme into the cake batter really helped the flavor shine through all of the butter and sugar. But if I am being honest, I think the real star is the lemon curd buttercream. Now, I've made lemon curd and I've made buttercream plenty of times, but the product of combining the two together proved to be otherworldly. Sometimes straight lemon curd can be a bit tricky as a cake filling, so I opted to mix it with my trusted Swiss meringue buttercream. Swiss meringue buttercream is fairly mild in flavor, making it the perfect base for other flavorings. But seriously, lemon curd buttercream - you guys, it's like heaven! Light and lemony - not too tart, not too sweet. But just for funsies, I took a couple teaspoons of leftover curd and swirled it over the buttercream just before topping it the next layer of thyme-soaked lemon cake. Now how good does that sound?!?!
You can find the recipe for this cake over on the West Elm blog, where I'll be sharing several different herb-infused recipes over the next couple of weeks.