The lightest, fluffiest white cake with wild blueberry jam filling and a stunning blueberry ombré buttercream finish. This recipe, plus so much more, is from America's Test Kitchen's latest book, The Perfect Cake.Read More
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.
A step-by-step tutorial for creating a delicate, two-toned ruffled buttercream finish. Create these perfect petal details for a romantic, whimsical cake for spring!.
In honor of my new cookbook being available for pre-order, I wanted to create and share a brand-new cake decorating tutorial. If you love this, then I think you will really enjoy my book! For those of you who don't already know, the book is called "Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Layer Cakes." The subtitle is a bit long, but it really illustrates all that the book entails. It is 288-pages packed full of color photos, decorating tips, industry tricks, and about 150 delicious recipes.
There are several buttercream textures and piping ideas throughout the book (including a similar ruffle cake), but nothing quite like this two-toned version. Once I got the idea to create this cake and started to see my vision come to life, I fell instantly in love. And really, the only reason it did not make it in the book is simply because I did not think of the concept until after the manuscript was submitted. Instead, treat this post as a preview to the fun and flirty cake designs and tutorials that you can find if you buy the book. Pretty great, right? Are you going to run and pre-order your copy now? I hope so =)
For spring, I wanted to create a ruffle cake that resembled flower petals. Instead of the popular zig-zag ruffle cake, I flipped the piping tip 90-degrees and went with a horizontal ruffle. Using a petal tip, I was able to make delicate rows of ruffles, each one resembling a flower petal. Instead of tinting the buttercream a solid color, I decided to stripe my piping bag – painting a bit of pink and coral buttercream just on the side where the narrow end of the petal tip would be. This way, each piped petal would be two-toned! Of course, I could have stopped there, but why not throw a color gradient into the mix? As I progressed with my piping, I added a bit more orange to my pink each time I filled the piping bag to create a beautiful coral ombre effect. I know the color gradient didn't turn out absolutely perfect (neither are all the ruffles for that matter), but isn't it still so pretty? I just love all the texture and imperfect bits of color. Can you tell I am fairly pleased with myself? Hehehe.
Okay, on to the tutorial section. To start, apply a crumb coat to the entire cake. You do not need to make sure everything is perfectly frosted, but the crumb coat should be just slightly thicker than normal. Unless you plan to create a petal design on the top of the cake (which would be really cool, too), ice the top of the cake before getting started. You won't really get another opportunity to smooth or swirl the top, so be sure to take care of the top and edges now.
"Striping the bag" as I called it (not sure if I made that up or heard it elsewhere) can be a bit fussy, but not impossible. First, fit a piping bag with a medium petal tip. For stability, place the piping bag upright in a tall drinking glass then fold the bag open over the top edges. Tint a small portion of your buttercream the color of your choice. Using a thin metal spatula or butter knife, paint the tinted buttercream on the side of the bag where the narrow end of the petal tip is facing. Did you get that? The petal tip has a fat end and narrow end. The narrow end will create the top of the ruffle. That means, if that is where you want the color to go, then apply the tinted buttercream up the side of that part of the piping bag. As you can see, this doesn't have to be perfect – but my ruffles did not turn out "perfect" either, so do as you wish =)
Filling the remaining portion of the bag is much easier. Simply fill a second piping bag with plain buttercream and squeeze it directly into the other bag. I only kept my piping bag about 1/2-full at all times, allowing my to change colors as I refilled and to keep things from getting too messy.
To create the ruffles themselves, start about a half-inch or so down from the top of the cake. Keep the narrow end of the petal tip pointing up (the coloured portion). As you apply pressure, the buttercream being squeezed through the uneven opening of the tip will begin to curve and curl. Moving with this natural curve, make a slight zig-zag motion with the piping bag (up and down the side of the cake) as you progress around the cake. Slightly flare the narrow tip out (towards you), being sure the fat end of the tip is always touching the cake. Continue around the cake until one row is complete.
To complete the cake, begin the second row under the first, allowing the top of the ruffle to overlap the bottom of the previous row. Again, by slightly flaring out the tip towards you, the ruffles will begin to overlap. As you progress and need to refill the piping bag, change up the colored portion as desired. If your piping bag gets too messy, considering swapping it out for a clean one (I didn't end up having to do so until my very last row, but it was certainly necessary at that point for me).
So there you have it! A Two-Toned Ruffle Cake!
The perfectionist side of me wanted to go in and re-do every single ruffle that wasn't perfect, but the creative, carefree side said "leave it." That side won. Yes, I know each ruffle isn't perfect, but isn't that the beauty of it all? It doesn't have to be perfect and I am still digging the flirty texture. I sure hope that inspires you all to give it a try!
Now on to the awesome part of this post. I've teamed up AHeirloom for a giveaway!! That gorgeous, wood base cake stand that I know you've been swooning over this entire post? Yeah, it's from them. And you could win your own!
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATS, AMANDA! Enter your information below for a chance to win a $75 credit to AHeirloom (that's worth one of their stunning cake stands!). US and Canadian residents only. The contest will run until March 8th, so be sure to enter! I'll be announcing the lucky winner next week.
A quick note about flowers on cakes:
As a previous wedding cake maker, I've had to seriously consider the effects of fresh flowers on cakes. Not to sound overly dramatic, but if someone were to become ill after eating a cake, I bet they would blame the baker before ever thinking about the flowers that were on it.
That being said, I advise that you never put the stems of fresh flowers straight into the cake. Instead, wrap the ends in floral tape and gently place them on. If need be, anchor flowers onto a cake by inserting a drinking straw first, then placing the flower stems into the straw.
I got the "Okay" from my florist when selecting the blossoms on this cake, but be cautious of the blooms you handle around food. Typically flowers like roses are perfectly fine, but double check when dealing with other varieties.
PSA over. Happy Baking!
After receiving such much awesome feedback from my Watermelon Cake, I was so jazzed to come up with another tutorial post for you all, specifically: How to Ice a Cake: Version 2.0 (The Perfect Ombre).
Let's be honest, I am not totally up on my party trends these days. I no longer make wedding cakes on a weekly basis and it has been nearly 4 years(!!!) since I planned my own. Is ombre still a thing? I made my first ombre cake years ago, but are people still into it theses day? I know the trend hit weddings and cakes a while ago, but I've even seen it more recently with hair and nails, so perhaps ombre still lives on.
So clearly I might not be ahead of the trends, but I do know what is pretty. And pretty is this lovely, summery ombre cake. I still love color gradients and the dreamy transitions from pinks to corals to buttery yellow, and I hope you do to. Reminds you of sherbet, right? Creating this ombre effect out of buttercream is probably much easier than you think, and this version of How to Ice a Cake will leave you feeling like a pro. Using the color palette of your choice, a piping bag, and few other basic cake tools, you will be whipping up ombre masterpieces left and right.
Step 1: Torte and fill a round layer cake. Make sure everything is trimmed and even before you start icing.
Step 2: Give your cake a nice crumb coat with plain vanilla (white) buttercream.
Step 3: Select the color you'd like to end your ombre with. For me, I just used white. Place a large dollop of buttercream on top of the cake.
Step 4: Using a small off-set spatula, smooth out the buttercream on top of the cake (as you would ice a regular cake). Don't be afraid of some of the icing hangs over the edge of the cake - it will help with the ombre blend later.
Step 5: Select your color palette. Tint buttercream about 4 different colors (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of buttercream for each color). Feel free to create a gradual color transition or a bold, contrast-y one!
Step 6: Place your first color in a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip. Starting at the bottom, pipe rings of icing around the cake. Layer in the next color(s) into the piping bag and continue around until you reach the top of the cake. You may use the same piping bag to help with some of the color transition. However, if your colors are bold and are becoming too "streaky," then feel free to use a clean piping bag in between colors.
This step does not have to be perfect. Since we are only using a little bit of icing in each color, it might be tricky to pipe a smooth line. Try aiming to get an even amount of buttercream on all sides. You do not need a ton of icing, but enough so that when we smooth it out, there will not be cake poking thru.
If you created a lot of icing in each color, remember that you do not need to use it all. If you find yourself halfway up the cake on your first color, you might want to scale back.
Step 7: Once all of the colors are on, begin smoothing out the buttercream. Start by just using an off-set spatula held perpendicular to your turntable. Remove any excess frosting, but do not worry about getting things perfect just yet. Be sure to completely clean of your tools between use.
Step 8: Take your icing smoother and continue to even out the icing. Place the smoother lightly on the cake, with the bottom touching the turntable, and rotate the cake around. Remember to clean your tools between "swipes." If there are any holes, carefully add in a bit of icing in that color.
Step 9: Carefully smooth out the top edge with an off-set spatula, as you would with icing a regular cake. Voila!!
So, how'd ya do? Not too difficult, right? The color transition does not have to be perfect (mine wasn't), but still pretty. There are so many color options to explore! All pinks or all blues - or get crazy with a tie-dye of purple, red, and yellow! What colors will you try first?
TIPS: – I HIGHLY recommend using a Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream. These types of buttercreams are silky, smooth, and blend beautifully. – If you are beginner baker, check out this tutorial on How to Ice a Cake. – Not confident about getting such a smooth finish or prefer a more rustic looks? Try this Watercolor Cake version. – Place cake on a cake round before icing - it will make transferring the cake from the turntable to a cake stand much easier. Hate seeing the round itself? Try using a cake round that is the same size as your cake instead. It might be a little trickier to move, but better than nothing. To move, slip a think off-set spatula underneath the cake, and spin and lift it off.