Earl Grey & Lavender Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across this black loose flavored tea while in the grocery store one day and it sounded so good, I bought it, but parked it in my pantry for the longest time.  I finally decided it was time to put it to good use. I just love the flavor of tea infused into cake. It’s not the first time I have used this process for flavor. This particular combo pairs really well with the subtle flavor of the blackberry buttercream. The Husband is really picky when it comes to desserts; he will usually comment when he really likes something and this time he said this one was a “real winner”. I have to say I agree; the color of the cake is a bit strange because of the color it turns the milk when infused but don’t let that turn you off, it is sublime! The cake comes out super moist as well, so that’s always a plus. I went a bit strong I have to admit on the amount of the tea- but I really wanted the flavor to come through. If you want a more subtle flavor cake you can cut down to 3 tablespoons total if you prefer. Also- I added in a little bit of non infused tea to the cake so that it has those little bits of black flecks of the tea. (I know people will ask me why I did that, so that’s why I’m explaining it here). I get a lot of questions on why I do certain things and sometimes it’s just a whim that hits me when recipe developing, as in this case.

These would make adorable mini cupcakes as well for a party.

 

Earl Grey & Lavender Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

 

Cake

2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

2 Cups sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tea bag of earl grey (cut open and contents removed) (I used Stash brand)

1 Cup milk (I used whole)

1/4 Cup loose (earl grey with lavender black tea)

1 Cup warm water

1/2 Cup grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

purchased blackberry seedless preserves (I like Dickensons brand)

fresh blackberries (optional for serving and decorating the top of the cake)

 

Preheat the oven to 340° F and prepare three 6 x3 inch cake pans (If you don’t have 6×3 inch pans you can use 6×2 and divide batter into 4 pans instead) with non-stick baking spray and line with parchment circles. You may also divide batter into 8×2 inch pans or 9×2 evenly but will have to adjust your baking times. I used a little over 2 cups of batter into each 6×3 inch pans.

Heat the milk to a scald, remove from heat and steep the 1/4 cup loose tea in the milk for 15 minutes. Strain the tea and throw away the tea and keep the milk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together the first 5 ingredients.

In a large glass measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat on low to medium speed until combined; stopping the scrape down the sides to ensure you get everything combined well. Do not over beat.

Bake until tops of cakes are no longer wet looking and when touched lightly with a finger they spring back lightly, or a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cakes cool in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove to cool completely on the rack.

For my 6×3 inch pans, I baked at 340° F for 40 minutes, but all ovens are different so make sure to test cakes often so as not to overbake.

 

To assemble cake:

Pipe a dame of blackberry buttercream around the edge of a cake layer and spread a layer of blackberry preserves, then top with blackberry buttercream and gently spread the buttercream evenly over the preserves, then continue to layer in this manner until you reach the top layer and spread with just buttercream. Do a crumb coat of buttercream on top and sides and chill cake at least 30 minutes until you spread the remaining buttercream over sides and top and decorate as desired.

 

Blackberry Buttercream

5 egg whites

1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

4-5 Tbsp of seedless blackberry preserves

optional lavender, regal purple, or violet gel food colors (I used a combination of to boost purple color)

Heat the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Whip with a whisk on medium-high speed until you reach a billowy meringue and meringue is cool and bottom of the bowl does not feel warm. Add butter in by tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Add in vanilla and blackberry preserves a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Stop and taste after 3 tablespoons of preserves to adjust flavor. You may not need all of the preserves to achieve the desired taste. I added a few drops of different purple gel colors to boost the color of my finished buttercream.

 

 

 

 

 


Summer Cocktail Series: # 1: The Amelia Cocktail

 

Summer

Fresh ripe juicy blackberries

Elderflower St. Germain liqueur

Warm gentle breezes

Porch sittin’

A few of your best friends

 

What do all of these have in common? The Amelia cocktail– named after Amelia Earhart is a wonderful, berrylicious,  bright and fresh cocktail that comes together quite easily in a cocktail shaker. The end result is a gorgeous purple-maroon colored beauty. Sorry guys- this is a girly girl drink.

Summer lends itself to our creative senses when it comes to sipping on something refreshing, so I’m starting a new category called “Summer Cocktail Series” to get us in the mood. The star of this beautiful libation utilizes fresh blackberries, sugar, lemon juice and St. Germain liqueur. St. Germain is a liqueur made from elderflower and it pairs nicely with berries and lemon because of it’s citrus notes.

Mix this up ahead of time and find a pretty glass container and invite your BFF’s over for some lazy sipping on the front porch. Serve it in coupe wineglasses if you have them, (or a martini glass will do) placed on a pretty serving tray for a style reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. You can multiply the recipe and keep it in the fridge in a pretty glass container of your choice so easy pouring and seconds will not distract you from your lazy porch sitting-slow sipping-catching up on neighborhood gossip-entertaining duties. Serve it alongside simple hors d’oeuvres and you will never leave the porch or pool side. Enjoy~

 

 

The Amelia Cocktail

recipe: adapted slightly from Nordstrom Bar

yield: two cocktails

 

12 fresh large plump blackberries

1 Tbsp. super fine sugar

2.5 oz. vodka

2 oz. St. Germaine liqueur

1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

ice to fill cocktail shaker

Garnish: fresh blackberries, mint, super fine sugar for rimming glasses

 

Chill glasses ahead of time in the fridge or place ice in each glass to fill then fill with enough water to fill each glass. Right before serving, dump out the ice cold water before pouring the cocktail.

Prepare cocktail: In a cocktail shaker place the berries and sugar. Muddle the berries and sugar (with a cocktail muddler or end of a large wooden spoon) until broken down and juicy. Add the vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice and enough ice to fill the shaker. Cap the shaker and shake vigourosly about 20 times.

Prepare glasses: Remove chilled glasses from fridge (or dump out the ice water from glasses and wipe dry). Swipe a small piece of lemon around the rims of glasses and then dip the glasses in sugar (place sugar on a small plate for easy rimming). Strain the cocktail into the glasses and serve garnished with fresh mint and blackberries.

 


Blackberry Lavender and Lemon Pound Cake

Are you as happy as I am that blackberries are in season? I’m seeing them left and right on sale now in the markets and it’s making me oh so happy. My latest greatest find was 3 for a dollar, so I had to strike! Brought these beauties home and made this scrumptious pound cake. It is super duper moist. That’s right- I said super duper. The lemon glaze that adorns the top takes it to the next level. The recipe calls for quite a bit of lavender- but don’t be scared, the flavor does not overpower the cake at all-just make sure you are buying culinary dried lavender. It can be a bit hard to find, but higher end stores like Whole Foods carries it in their spice aisle. The original recipe comes from Miche Bacher from her cookbook “Cooking with Flowers” which now that I took a sneak peak on Amazon, I might have to purchase the book! The recipe is posted on fancy flours website.

Blackberry Lavender & Lemon Pound Cake

recipe: from fancyflours.com (reprinted from original recipe by Miche Bacher) from cookbook “Cooking with Flowers”

2 Tbsp. dried (culinary) lavender buds

3/4 Cup buttermilk (or 3/4 Cup milk + scant Tbsp. lemon juice-see notes in step one).

2  1/2 Cups all purpose flour

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

zest of one lemon

1 pint blackberries (2 small 6 oz. containers)

1 Cup unsalted butter, softened

2 Cups sugar

4 eggs + 2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

 

1.  Stir lavender buds into the buttermilk and let steep for 30-45 minutes, or if you don’t have buttermilk stir the buds into 3/4 cup of milk and 10 minutes before preparing the batter stir in a scant tablespoon of lemon juice.

2. Preheat oven to 325° F.  Prepare a loaf pan (9x5x3) with nonstick baking spray and line with a parchment sling, leaving parchment so it hangs over the long sides of the pan with at least 3 inches, then spray again. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Gently stir in the (washed & dried) blackberries.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time on medium speed until incorporated. Note: the mixture may appear curdled, but don’t worry-it will come together once you add the dry ingredients.  Stir in the lemon juice.

4. Gently fold in BY HAND (not with an electric mixer), one third of the flour/berry mixture, then add in 1/2 of the milk/lavender mixture, adding in another third of flour mixture, then the last half of milk mixture, ending with last 1/3 of flour mixture. Gently pour the batter into the pan (Note: only fill the pan 3/4 of the way full- you may have some batter left over), and bake for ~ 40 minutes or a wooden skewer when inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove using the parchment sling. Allow the cake to cook completely on a wire rack, then glaze with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze

2 Cups confectioners sugar

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and juice until glaze is smooth and free of any lumps.


Blackberry-Mint Vodka Fizz

I always wanted a house with a big wrap around porch. You know the kind you see on those fancy home renovation shows. It would have dual porch swings facing each other and trees in the front yard lending soft breezes. My friends would stop by and I would whip up some boozy fruit flavored drink and we would sit for hours talking about nothing. I have a backyard pool with palm trees that give off a nice breeze, so don’t feel too sorry for me, but this is the kind of drink that evokes porch sippin’. If you have a nice covered front porch I demand you to make this drink and invite over a friend or two….

 

 

Blackberry-Mint Vodka Fizz

1.5 oz. blackberry mint syrup (recipe below)

crushed ice (this is key)

lime (or plain) flavored sparkling water (I used La Croix lime)

1.0 oz. vodka (optional)

4-5 fresh blackberries

sprig of fresh mint

 

In a short glass tumbler place crushed ice and blackberry mint syrup. Add in sparkling water or plain soda and optional vodka. Stir. Top with berries and fresh mint.

Blackberry mint syrup

makes a generous 1 Cup

1 Cup water

1 Cup sugar

2 Cups fresh or frozen blackberries

1/4 Cup fresh (clean) mint (about 20 leaves)

Bring everything to a boil except the mint. While mixture is coming to a boil crush the blackberries softly (they don’t have to be totally crushed). Let mixture boil for about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and then add the fresh mint. Let mint steep for 20 minutes, then strain out solids and store syrup in refrigerator.


Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Raspberry Lemonade Bar

Happy Independence Day

Raspberry Lemon Bars

raspberry lemonade bars 3

raspberry Lemonade bars 4

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

yield: (about 30-32 bars-depending on the size cut)

Crust:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup sugar

2 Cups flour

pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and salt together, then add to butter/sugar and beat until combined. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan lined with parchment paper with a 2 inch overhang. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° F and bake for 15-20 minutes until very lightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack while you make the filling.

Filling:

2 1/2 Cups sugar

zest of 3 lemons

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 Cup seedless raspberry puree (press fresh or thawed frozen raspberries through a fine sieve).

6 large eggs

1 Cup flour

red and/or burgundy gel paste food color (optional)

Confectioners sugar for serving

1. In a food processor pulse the sugar and lemon zest together several times; about 8-10. Add the lemon juice, raspberry puree, and eggs and combine until smooth. Add in the flour and pulse to combine. The filling is not quite the color that I liked- so I added a few drops of red and burgundy gel paste food coloring.

2. Pour the filling onto the crust and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 30 minutes until set; when you jiggle the pan the center should not look loose. Let pan cool over a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan of bars until well chilled before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before serving.


White Chocolate Raspberry Creme Brulee

Do you like to entertain but you don’t want to be cutting or scooping out any dessert at the last minute? Yep, me too. You can make these ahead of time a few hours before your event or party and if you want to have the fun and include your guests you can even wait to brulée the tops of the custards with your friends if you like. Summer is the perfect time to find ripe raspberries on sale.

raspberry white chocolate creme brulee

White Chocolate Crème Brulée with Raspberries

recipe: adapted from Ghirardelli

yield: 6-7 ramekins (depending on the size of your ramekins)

4 large egg yolks

1/3 Cup sugar + (4-6 tsp. more for brulee)

4 oz. white chocolate chopped fine

2 Cups heavy whipping cream

3/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste

fresh raspberries washed and dried

1. Preheat oven to 300° F.

2. Whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth in a medium size mixing bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the chopped white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Temper the egg sugar mixture with the hot cream mixture by add in a little bit at a time while whisking until all the hot cream is added. Whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Place 4-5 raspberries in each individual ramekins and then pour the custard into each ramekin; filling almost all the way to the top. Place the ramekins in a baking pan with 2 inch sides. Pour enough hot tap water into the bottom of the baking pan so that the ramekins are sitting in enough water to cover at least 1/2 of the ramekin. Bake at 300° F for 50-60 minutes or until custard is set. Remove the pan from the oven and move the ramekins to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes.

3. Sprinkle each ramekin with enough sugar (about 1 1/4 tsp) and brulée each with a bakers’ torch or under the broiler until sugar is caramelized. Chill the custards until ready to serve. Serve ideally within a few hours of making as raspberries tend to give off a bit of liquid.


Blackberry Berliner Donuts

I don’t know why but for the last 2 weeks I’ve been craving a donut.  I pushed it back into the corners of my mind and tried to wage war on it by eating yogurt every day. Then I added granola with berries to my yogurt.  That SO did NOT work. On about the 8th day I woke up again and craved a donut. On the 9th day I started fantasizing about what kind of donut exactly it was that I needed. Not just any donut would do. However, I like my donuts simple. Nothing too crazy usually. That does not mean that for time to time I won’t experiment and come up with something outrageous; it’s just that when it comes to a donut craving it’s usually a simple sugar rolled donut or an “old fashioned” donut that calls me. I like my donuts pillowy soft and somewhat plush.  I knew that a cake donut would not do. It had to be yeast, soft, and FRESH. The kind of donut you sink your teeth into.

This is that donut-a pillowy soft, fluffy interior kind of donut. When you bite into it, the sides envelope you like a feather bed kind of hug, then the sweet and tangy blackberry filling oozes just enough in contrast to the grainy sugar crystals that dance across your lips. Uh huh. You reach for your slightly bitter coffee to wash it down. Yep, I know. Some things are worth waiting for….

Happiness is a blackberry filled donut; pillowy soft on the inside and rolled in sugar

blackbery berliners

Make them large or small; below are donut hole sizeblackberry filled donut holes

Blackberry Berliners

yield: about 1 dozen

recipe: adapted from “Glazed Filled Sugared & Dipped” by Stephen Collucci

 

3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

1 1/2 Cups (room temp-slightly warm) whole milk

3 Cups bread flour

3/4 Cup all purpose flour

1/4 Cup sugar + more for rolling donuts in

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/ tsp. nutmeg

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

Vegetable oil for frying

Blackberry seedless preserves for filling (I like Dickensons)

 

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment combine the milk and yeast on low speed for 2-3 minutes. You should see bubbling on the surface.

2. In a medium bowl combine the flours, sugar, salt, and nutmeg with a fork. Add the mixture to the stand mixer bowl and mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook, add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add in the butter and mix on medium speed until well combined. Mix the dough for about 5-8 minutes until the dough gathers on the hook and pulls away from the bowl. The dough should feel mostly smooth but a little sticky. Form the dough into a smooth ball by gently working it with your hands or with a little floured work surface.

3. Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm, draft-free place and let dough rise until tripled in size. Line a sheet pan with wax paper- you will use this to place the cut donuts onto. Line another sheet pan with paper towels and place a wire rack over the towels.

4. Turn the risen dough onto a floured work surface and lightly flour the top of dough and roll gently into about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch circular shapes or smaller if desired, place on prepared sheet pan lined with wax paper.

5. Fry donuts 1-3 at a time in a 350° F oil for about 1-2 mins per side until donuts are golden brown. Resist the urge to over fry donuts too dark as that will take away from the dough staying pillowy soft. Allow donuts to cool slightly over a sheet pan lined with paper towels over a wire rack. While donuts are still warm poke a hole in the side of each donut. Roll donuts in sugar and allow donuts to cool completely. When cooled then fill donuts with blackberry (seedless) preserves.

6. To fill donuts use a pastry bag fitted with a start tip (I used Ateco 822 size) and gently fill the donuts by squeezing the filling inside the holes of each donut.