Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

It seems like the joys of spring have finally descended, and the blossoming trees, gamboling lambs and rolling green fields in Derbyshire are making me feel very lucky to be living in such a beautiful place. Even more excitingly, the hodge podge vegetable garden I’ve assembled in a variety of pots has already started to produce exciting treats. So far that’s just a bunch of radishes and a few handfuls of chard and spinach, but across the summer I’m looking forward to my own peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, herbs, chillis and cucamelons, which supposed taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime, but are the size of a grape. Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

All of this veg based excitement combined with a new job has meant my baking has trailed off over the last few weeks. However, my mum’s wedding is coming up very soon, and I’m making cakes for the ceremony and the party, which means a lot of practice is in order. I whipped up this Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream to try out an icing effect I want to use one one of the cakes. It’s too bright for my mum’s tastes and the colour scheme we’d agreed, but I love the effect and am excited to try something a bit more subtle.Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

I also wanted to share this cake and buttercream combo, as it’s one of my staple recipes. The cake itself is make with tea infused milk, which gives an amazing flavour. Here I’ve used apricot black tea, but any black tea would be delicious. It works very well with earl grey too. Don’t be scared of the cake mix – it’s basically a batter and thinner than you might expect, but that’s normal. Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey ButtercreamIf you’ve made celebration cakes for special occasions I’d love to hear your stories – what did you make, and what are your top tips? Of course I’ll share photos of the cakes after the event too, wish me luck!Watercolour Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream


Recipe: Apricot Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream

Makes a 4 layer, 6″ cake

Ingredients: Cake

 

470ml whole milk

6 heaped tbsp apricot black tea leaves, or any flavoured or plain black tea

110g unsalted butter, softened

360g caster sugar

4 eggs

120ml vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla

440g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of fine salt

 

Method: Cake

  1. First, infuse your milk. Put the tea and milk in a pan and heat. Just before it reaches the boil when you can see little bubbles, turn the heat off, give it a quick stir and leave to one side to cool.
  2. Prepare two tall 6″ tins, lining the bottom with greaseproof paper and greasing the sides. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  3.  Beat the butter and sugar together until light. As there’s not a huge amount of butter it won’t look as fluffy as a sponge cake. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine. Add the oil and vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt to combine. Mix into the main mixture in two stages, beating until just combined each time.
  5. By now your milk should be room temperature. Strain out the tea leaves and discard. With the mixer on, slowly pour a thin stream of the tea-infused milk into the mix until the whole thing is combined. It should be the texture of a thick batter. Pour half into each tin and bake for 45-55 minutes. After about 35 minutes you might need to cover the tops with a loose hat of tin foil to prevent them over browning.
  6. Cool on a rack.

Ingredients: Buttercream

 

110g unsalted butter, softened

6 tsbp runny honey

500g icing sugar

pinch of fine salt

Splash of milk

Gel food colourings in your choice of colours

Gold lustre dust

 

Method: Buttercream and assembley

  1. Beat together the butter, honey and salt until fully combined and light and fluffy.
  2. Add the icing sugar in two stages, covering your mixer bowl if possible to try and stop the cloud of sugar dust. As you add the sugar, keep the mixer on low, increasing the speed as it incorporates. Once both batched are added, scrape down the bowl and leave to beat on high for about 10 minutes to get really fluffly. If you need to, add a splash of milk to make the buttercream looser. This will depend on the type of butter and honey you’re using.
  3. Slice the domed top off of each cake. Put the off cuts to one side for snacking. Cut each trimmed cake into two equal layers.
  4. Now you want to stack and crumb coat your cake. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on each layer of cake and stack the next one of top of it until you’re out of cakes. Spread a thing layer of buttercream all over the cake and using a cake scraper or a ruler, scrape off most of the icing to trap all the crumbs. Stick in the fridge for at least 30mins for the crumb coat to set. You can skip this step but it will make your cake must easier to decorate.
  5. Split your buttercream into four. You’ll want one bowl with most of the buttercream to be your case colour, and three with smaller amounts of highlight colours. Frost the cake as usual with the base colour and get fairly smooth. Then use a spatula to add smears of each colour all the way around. Using a flat edge, drag round the edge of the cake to spread the colours out. You might need to do this a few times to get the look you want. Then repeat on top. Using a paintbrush to finish, add gold lustre dust where you’d like it.
Rye, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies

Rye, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies

There are certain recipes that the first time you make them, you know they’re going to be a reliable friend for a long time. Dan Lepard has provided several of these (roast cocoa cookies, anyone?), and a few weeks ago I finally got round to buying one of his books, Short and Sweet. Settling down with some sticky tabs and a cup of tea, I ended up marking about a third of the recipes as ones to try, and these Rye, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies were the most tempting of the lot.Rye, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies

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Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

Sometimes baking can really lift your mood in ways you don’t expect. I made this Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream on a very rainy day. With lots of baking on the day’s list, and still wearing my PJs, I was in a massive grump. One of those grumbly for no reason moods. And I couldn’t work out how to shake it. My favourite Easter biscuits were delicious but seemed unphotographable. I missed a chilling step in a batch of Lemon bars and they ended up unpleasing greasy. The kitchen was a mess and I felt lazy and useless.Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

Just when I was about to give over to a day of watching crap TV and wallowing, I remembered that I still needed to bake a carrot cake to test out recipes for my mum’s wedding (I’m making three cakes for the party, and one for the ceremony). I somewhat reluctantly made a cup of tea and trawled through a couple of old reliables – Leith’s, Hugh Fearnly-Whittington – but was seduced by a Lorraine Pascale recipe that looked quite sturdy and no-nonsense. I changed the spicing, added pumpkin seeds in place of walnuts, stuck it in the oven and begrudgingly started on the washing up.Floral Carrot Cake with Orange ButtercreamAfter a quick lick of buttercream and a sprinkle of seeds and safflower petals, which I’d bought on a whim weeks previously, my spirit was totally lifted. The cake was so pretty I started taking photos, almost without realising, and just like that my creative block was gone.Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream

So my recommendation is that if you are in a low mood, make this Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream. It may not make everything better, but it’s so pretty and delicious it will help in a small way.

Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream


Recipe: Floral Carrot Cake with Orange Buttercream (Cake adapted from Lorraine Pascale, Buttercream from Cupcake Jemma)

Cake ingredients

175ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower)

3 large eggs

175g caster sugar

140g finely grated carrot

zest of one orange, grated

175g self raising flour

pinch fine salt

1ts bicarbonate of soda

1tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

50g toasted pumpkin seeds

Buttercream Ingredients

150g butter, really soft

340g icing sugar

4tbsp milk

zest 1 orange

Coral gel food colouring, optional

To decorate, dried safflower petals and toasted pumpkin seeds

Method

  1. First make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two 20cm baking tins. Whisk together the oil and eggs in a bowl, then add the carrot and sugar and mix together.  In a separate bowl, add the flour, bicarb, spices and salt and whisk to combine.
  2. Crush your pumpkin seeds lightly so you have a mix of large and small pieces. Add a spoon of the flour mix to them and mix to coat. This will stop them all dropping to the bottom of the cake.
  3. Add the dry to the wet and mix together until just combined, then stir in the pumpkin seeds. You don’t need a mixer for it, a spoon or whisk are fine as the mixture is so wet.
  4. Spit the mixture between the tins, smooth out evenly and bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Cool completely.
  5. To make the buttercream, add the orange zest to the milk and leave to one side. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until white and fluffy, up to 5 mins. Then add half the icing sugar, best for 3 mins, then add the rest of the icing sugar, scrape down the bowl and beat for another 3 mins or so. Add about half the orange infused milk and best for a few minutes. If it looks too thick, add more milk, and beat for longer. Once you have the consistency you want, add a teeny amount of food colouring with a cocktail stick and mix, adding more until you get the colour you want.
  6. To assemble, put your buttercream in a piping bag with a round tip. Place your bottom cake on a plate or cake board and pipe thick dots of buttercream around the top edge of the cake. Then cover the whole top of the cake. Place the second cake on top, spread the remaining buttercream and decorate with the dried flower and seeds. Serve with an afternoon cup of tea and enjoy!
Speckled Egg Chocolate Cake

Speckled Egg Chocolate Cake

Easter is a big deal in my family. Ever since I can remember it’s been marked with celebrations, normally with my cousins, family friends and more. When we were little these celebrations involved rolling eggs we’d painted down hills, welly wanging (not as rude as it sounds!), and culminated in the inevitable chocolate egg hunt. Although I haven’t thrown my welly across a field in over a decade, the Easter Egg Hunt is still a huge feature of every spring.Speckled Egg Chocolate Cake

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Easy Easter Biscuits

Easy Easter Biscuits

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. I first had these Easter biscuits at my boyfriend’s family’s house, as one of about 10 amazing bakes made by his mum. She kindly gave me the recipe and I’ve been making them ever since.
Easy Easter Biscuits

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Garam Masala Loaf Cake with Yogurt Glaze

Garam Masala Loaf Cake with Yogurt Glaze

Sometimes food stays with you for a really long time. Years ago, my sister and I took our mum to an incredible ‘High Chai’ afternoon tea at Cinnamon Soho in London. The dishes were all spins on English afternoon tea staples: finger sandwiches full of tandori chicken and punchy chutney; scones with a tangy spiced relish; cups of masala chai. But the thing that really stood out for me was an unassuming slice of cake spiced with garam masala. Spicy, sweet and moreish, it was everything I wanted from a cake, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Garam Masala Loaf Cake with Yogurt Glaze

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Nut-free Macarons with Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Buttercream

Nut-free Macarons with Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Buttercream

Calling everyone with a nut allergy – nut-free macarons are not just a possibility, they’re also totally delicious! Traditionally made with almond meal, ground pumpkin seeds can be used as a simple replacement, and the outcome is completely delicious. Nut-free Macarons with Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Buttercream

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