Happy Spring, y’all!
I hope that it has been as warm, beautiful, and blooming where you are as it has been in Atlanta! While I am still not used to this 80˚F weather in April and now even warmer in May, I must say that I kind of love all of the life it has brought! Cherry blossoms, hydrangeas, gardenias, the list of stunning flowers that are right outside of our little apartment goes on and on. Even beyond that, the farmer’s market season is in full swing, everyone seems to be outside running, walking, and biking, the wonderful months of grilling and margaritas have arrived—ahh can you tell I’m so excited?!
With this just incredible time of the year upon us, I wanted to give you a recipe that is just as light, refreshing, bright and simply sweet to enjoy during these warmer days ahead of us!
This cake recipe below is truly perfect for Mother’s Day, summer brunches, showers, BBQ’s—and that’s all because it is not overwhelmingly sweet. I don’t know about you, but when it’s 85˚ outside with about 90% humidity, there’s nothing I want less than a heavy dessert, which is where this idea came about. I’ve replaced any white sugar or brown sugar with honey and maple syrup, giving it a little bit more of a floral and earthy taste to the cake. From there, I used one of my current favorite teas—Ginger Turmeric—and steeped that in a honey simple syrup for a slight twist and a little kick. Lastly, the “barely-there” cream cheese flavor in the buttercream, combined with some lemon extract gives you that pop of citrus that we all crave in the summer, especially with en entire orange worth of zest in the cake! I took this one step farther and chopped up some fresh strawberries for the filling of this cake, because why wouldn’t you want that?!
This cake is, to me, as lovely and stunning as all of those amazing flowers outside! It adds a nice fresh touch to any party, brunch, heck, even an afternoon snack if you’re me! With a summer that is sure to be filled with lots of dog snuggles, outdoor adventures, weekend getaways and possibly Sunday mornings when you wake your husband up too early for a “beat the sun” run…this berry filled, tea soaked cake, is exactly what you’ll be craving!
Milk—4 oz, of ½ C
Canola Oil—3 oz, or ½ C
Honey—4 oz, or 1/3 C
Maple Syrup—3 oz, or ¼ C
Vanilla Extract—1 ½ tsp
Flour—11 oz, or 2 C
Baking Powder—2 tsp
Baking Soda—½ tsp
Orange Zest—1 orange
Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Whisk together all of your dry ingredients—the milk, oil, honey, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the orange zest
Combine the wet and dry, whisking together until just combined.
Prep 2-6” cake pans by spraying with nonstick spray, and then either covering the bottom with a light dusting of flour, or some parchment paper.
Add half of the cake batter to each pan, which should only fill each about halfway.
Put in your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, rotating, then another 10.
When fully baked, the center of the center of the cake should spring back nicely when pressed.
Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Water—6 oz, or ¾ C
Honey—8 oz, or ¾ C
In a small saucepot, combine the water and honey; bring to a light boil, just so that the honey dissolves into the water.
Remove from the heat and steep your tea bags anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on how intense you want this honey-tea syrup to be!
*Note: I used a Ginger Turmeric tea for this recipe—it is quite subtle but adds a great warmth and spice to the sweet syrup, but the options are endless!*
Once you remove the tea bags, add the salt.
Allow to cool completely before using it on your cake!
Butter (room temperature)—10 oz, or 1 ¼
Cream Cheese—4 oz, or ½ C
Vanilla Extract—1 TBL
Lemon Extract—1 tsp
Milk—1 oz, or 2 TBL
Confectioner’s Sugar—27 oz, or 5 ¼ C
In the bowl of your mixer, using the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until verrryyyy smooth and creamy—this should take you a good 5-10 minutes depending on the consistency of the butter.
Once smooth, slowly add in the sifted confectioner’s sugar, scraping down after about every cup added.
When all the sugar has been added and the bowl has been scraped down, add in the vanilla and 1 TBL of the milk.
Mix and scrape.
Add in the second TBL of milk.
Turn your mixer on about medium-high so that your buttercream becomes nice and fluffy.
Now it can be used to finish your cake!
When your cake has completely cooled, trim the tops off of both cakes so that they are flat.
Using the syrup that you made earlier, brush a healthy amount on each cake layer, specifically the side that you just trimmed off—this will keep it nice and moist the longer that it sits!
Using either a plate or a cake turntable, evenly spread on your buttercream—I do about ½” for the center.
*Optional: you may put fresh fruit in the center for even more flavor—I have used strawberries here!*
If you opt to put fruit in the middle, press it down to make sure that it is in place, and you may even want to add more buttercream over the fruit to secure it even more.
Now place the other cake layer, syruped side down, on top of the fruit, buttercreamy center you just created.
Place a good dollop of the buttercream on top and spread a thin, even layer. Do the same with the sides—this doesn’t have to be perfect, and it may have crumbs in it, it is just a base coat!
Place this “crumb-coated” cake in the fridge to firm up for about 20-30 minutes.
Once your outside layer has set just a bit, it’ll be easier to spread on more buttercream, this time there will be no crumbs that get in your beautiful frosting job!
When you have applied the second coating of buttercream and are satisfied with how absolutely beautiful and yummy it looks, decorating it however you wish—I used some dried orange peel that I had kicking around—you may cut into it and enjoy!
At this point, like me, you may have almost forgotten about the surprise of fresh fruit inside—and this, plus the syrup keeps the cake tasting extremely moist!