Lemon, earl grey + blueberry cake
I have a friend, let’s call her Beck (because that’s her name) who does me a great service. She is a no-nonsense cake reviewer.
Despite being constantly bombarded with all manner of sugary baked goods, she has never yet failed to front up to a recipe tasting with enthusiasm. Beck’s reviews of my cakes are the most crucial part of the recipe testing process. She is unwaveringly honest. If it’s too dry, sweet, salty etc etc – she’ll tell me.
Beck’s latest review was one of my favourites:
“When I first saw it, I thought it would be so rich but it was just right!
I was like, ‘I’ll just eat one layer to try it…’.
Nek minnit – whole piece gone”
And (not to toot my own horn) I tend to agree.
This cake is pretty much the perfect afternoon tea layer cake. It’s fresh and light, yet subtle. Best enjoyed with a large mug of Earl Grey tea.
Makes 3 x 8 inch cakes. Serves 8 to 10 people.
Lemon and earl grey cake
250 millilitres of whole milk
2 French Earl Grey tea bags
260 grams of plain flour
3 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
115 grams of unsalted butter (softened)
300 grams of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
3 large eggs
Blueberry Swiss meringue buttercream
250 grams of caster sugar
125 grams of egg whites
325 grams of unsalted butter (softened)
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
Freeze dried blueberry powder to taste (don’t be shy)
Make the lemon and earl grey cake
- Preheat your oven to 180◦C.
- Grease three 8 inch cake tins and line with baking paper.
- Place the milk in a small saucepan with the tea bags. Heat slowly until the milk is almost boiled. Set aside for 15 minutes to infuse, then remove the tea bags and discard.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
- Add the caster sugar to the butter and cream for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined.
- Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk infusion until combined.
- Evenly divide the cake batter between the three prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out of the centre of the cakes clean. Set aside to cool.
Make the blueberry Swiss meringue buttercream
- Combine the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Place the stand mixer bowl over a saucepan of water to create a double boiler. Ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of the stand mixer bowl.
- Heat the sugar and egg whites to 70◦C, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
- Once at temperature, transfer the stand mixture bowl to the stand mixer. With a whisk attachments, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
- Change the whisk attachment to a paddle attachment. Add the butter slowly on a low speed.
- Once all the butter is combined and the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla bean paste and freeze dried blueberry powder.
Assemble the lemon, earl grey and blueberry afternoon tea cake
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, level them to ensure that the tops of the cakes are flat.
- Using a small amount of buttercream, affix one cake to a cake board or plate.
- Add some of the blueberry buttercream to a piping bag with a star tip.
- Add some of the blueberry buttercream to a piping bag with a Wilton 1B tip.
- Pipe small and large buttercream stars on the top of the cake layer and add blueberries in between the stars. Repeat with remaining layers of cake.
- If desired, finish with pearl lustre powder or silver leaf.