I think there is something wonderful about bakers who insist on baking their own birthday cake. I always get so many comments about how you should never have to bake your own birthday cake. Obviously, people, you don't know me very well. Baking cakes is something that I don't get to do enough of, and I relish in it. Picking the perfect recipe. Carefully selecting each ingredient that goes into it. Cutting out parchment paper circles and buttering and flouring my cake pans. Assembling and frosting. It's almost therapeutic to make a cake, to take the time to carefully create something beautiful and delicious. A homemade birthday cake is the ultimate "I love you". And baking your own birthday cake is the best way to whisper "I love you" - to yourself! That is why there will never be a store bough birthday cake for me.
I hadn't actually meant to make this cake at all. I was supposed to make another one, carefully selected after days of searching and debating. But when it came down to it, I totally forgot to buy the ingredients at the grocery store. And at the time I had a house full of people, a kitchen full of dirty dishes, and an arm full of tired, overstimulated, cookie filled two year old. A run to the grocery store wasn't going to happen. I almost didn't make a cake at all, until one of my best friends sent me an email with a link to this cake. And I got inspired. I used my own recipe, made a few changes, and came up with this. And I loved it.
This might be one of my most favorite cakes yet. The combination of flavors is fantastic. The Earl grey is delicate, the subtle hint of vanilla brights and balances it out (I would highly recommend using this tea, it is my utter favorite, both for drinking and for cooking with). The orange buttercream is really to die for. There almost wasn't enough frosting for the cake because I kept having to take quality control samples. You know, just in case.
Earl Grey Cake with Orange Blossom Buttercream (by The Gingered Whisk)
Earl Grey Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
4 TBSP loose earl grey tea (or 3 tea bags)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup orange marmalade
Orange Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
juice from 1 orange
enough water to make 1/2 cup liquid
Orange Blossom Buttercream:
7 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp orange blossom extract (you can substitute this with orange juice if you want, or even vanilla)
1 TBSP orange juice.
2 TBSP orange zest
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Prepare 2- 9" cake tins by buttering the tins, placing a round of parchment paper in the bottom, butter that, and then flour the sides, shaking off the excess flour. Set aside.
With a mortal and pestle or food processor, grind the tea (take the tea out of the bags if you are using them) into you get smaller pieces. You don't want it to be a powder, but you don't want to be chewing your cake, either.
In a small saucepan, scald your milk until just barely simmering. Turn the heat off and add the tea. Allow to steep while you prepare the cake.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add half of the dry mixture to the butter and mix until just combined.
Add the milk and tea mixture and mix until just combined.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overstir!
Divide the batter equally amongst the 2 prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway and testing with a toothpick.
Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out on a wire rack.
Into a small bowl, zest an orange. Set aside.
Squeeze the juice of an orange into a measuring cup.
Remove 1 TBSP of the juice for the frosting, and set aside.
You want to have a 1/2 cup of liquid for the simple syrup, so if your orange falls a little short, just add water until you get 1/2 cup.
Combine the juice/water and the sugar into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Using a pastry brush, brush the simple syrup over the tops and sides of the cakes. This will help seal in moisture.
Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
In a large bowl, mix together the butter, orange zest, and orange blossom extract until all lumps are gone.
Add the milk and slowly mix until incorporated.
Slowly, adding about 1/2 cup of sugar at a time, mix in the powdered sugar.
Once all the sugar is in, cream on high for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.
Mix in the orange juice.
Place one cake upside down on a cake pedestal (so that the flat bottom is facing up).
Stir the orange marmalade until it becomes very spreadable, and then evenly spread it on the top (well, bottom, really) of the cake.
Place the other cake round on top of the marmalade.
(I like to keep my cake covered in the fridge to allow the buttercream to harden. That's the way I like it!)