We survived our first winter in the Pacific Northwest, and despite many stranger’s pitying looks and ‘you just wait’ comments last fall, I completely enjoyed it. I love the rain, gloomy days here are my absolute favorite. The most difficult part of the winters here are the painfully short days but luckily I don’t need much convincing to spend my evenings under a quilt with a book and cup of tea. I made pots upon pots of homemade stocks, wore out a pair of warm slippers and congratulated myself on being extra productive the mornings I was up before dawn, even if dawn happened to be at 8 am.
I will say, the arrival of spring unearthed my vitamin D deficiency, we’ve been spending every minute we can outside and all I want to do is sun myself in the grass and play in the garden. I say ‘play’ because I’ve proven myself to be a complete gardening novice, I really have no idea what I’m doing but the ground has rewarded my efforts by producing teeny tiny sprouts despite the fact that I didn’t even label the seeds I sowed. Maybe I’m somehow conspiring with the earth to surprise myself in a month or two when the mystery veggies are ready to be harvested, like little gifts hidden in the dirt.
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you’ve probably noticed that I’m a little into infusing my cakes and buttercreams with tea. I’ve tried so many techniques: simple syrups, steeping tea in milk, etc but so far, this one wins. Fat carries flavor, and steeping the tea straight into the butter is incredibly effective. I like to think this spring awakening is responsible for my moment of cake brilliance, but there’s a really good chance I have the internet to thank.
I used Smith Teamaker’s Jasmine Silver Tip, which is slightly sweet and highly floral. The tea leaves are harvested in the spring and stored until jasmine blooms in the summer. The closed blossoms are harvested early in the day, and when they open in the evening the tea absorbs their floral, intoxicating scent, much like the way spring seems to have arrived overnight.
I’ll be making and serving this lovely cake for a tea and cake pairing at Smith Teamaker in Portland, Oregon on Mother’s Day (May 8th). To learn more about the event or reserve your spot, please visit the event page here.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally. When the butter just reaches boiling temperature remove it from heat, stir in the tea and steep for an hour or more. Strain the tea, forcing the excess butter out of the tea leaves with the back of a spoon. Cool the butter to room temperature before using.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep 3 x 6 inch cake pans by buttering them, lining the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, then dusting them with flour and tapping out the excess.
- Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the egg whites gradually, beating to combine, about 2 minutes.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ground vanilla beans together in a bowl and set aside. Mix the buttermilk and vanilla extract (if using) together and set aside.
- Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined or finishing by hand.
- Distribute the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Gently tap the pans on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles trapped in the thick batter. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans in the oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, checking every 3 minutes for doneness. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean and the top should spring back to the touch. Place on cooling racks until the pans are cool enough to handle, then run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it and turn it out onto the cooling racks to come to room temperature.
Assembly// Level the cakes if desired. Place the first layer face up on a cake board or serving plate and smooth a generous layer of buttercream on top. Distribute about ¼ c raspberries on top of the buttercream and place the second layer on top. Repeat, and place the last layer face down (so the smooth side is up) and press to secure. Place the cake in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up the buttercream and make icing the cake easier. Roughly ice the top and outsides of the cake and drizzle ganache around the edges of the cake. Decorate with flowers or as desired. Serve at room temperature. May be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
- for jam
- 1 lb raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ c sugar plus 2 tbsp, divided
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 5 egg whites
- 1¼ c (198 g) superfine sugar
- 1½ c (3 sticks) butter, cool but not cold and cut into cubes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- ½ c raspberry jam, cooled
- pinch of salt
- In a small bowl, mix ½ c raspberries and 2 tbsp sugar, stir and set aside. Combine the remaining raspberries, ½ c sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As the jam reduces, lower the heat if needed to keep the jam from burning. Cook until the jam has thickened, then strain it, pressing on the solids to release as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature before using.
- Wipe the metal bowl of an electric stand mixer, whisk attachment and a whisk with vinegar or lemon juice and a paper towel to remove any trace of grease.
- Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place a metal mixing bowl over the pot of simmering water (bowl should fit snugly but should not touch the water) and add the egg whites and sugar. Stir constantly with a whisk until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on a candy thermometer or until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is foamy. Remove from heat.
- Beat egg whites and sugar on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is completely neutral, about 10 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and turn mixer on low speed.
- Begin slowly adding the butter pieces and mix until the texture is smooth. If the buttercream curdles, keep mixing, it'll come back together.
- Add ½ c cooled jam, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste and salt and mix until combined.
- You can store buttercream in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
- 4 oz dark chocolate
- ½ c heavy whipping cream
- Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Scald the cream (heat just until steam rises from the surface of the cream) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, then pour over the chocolate and allow to sit undisturbed for a minute or two. Mix until smooth and cool to a pourable consistency.