Lavender Blackberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and a Piped Floral Wreath
- 240g whole milk
- 2 tsp dried culinary lavender
- 60g sour cream
- 325g cake flour
- 300g granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 225g unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 100g granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp dried culinary lavender
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 115gcream cheese, at room temperature
- 625g to 750g powdered sugar
- 3 to 4 Tbsp heavy cream or whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 4 large egg whites
- 265g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 450g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ to 1 cup (120ml to 240ml) blackberry jam
- Gel Food colouring
- In a small saucepan, slowly bring the milk to a simmer over low heat. Add the lavender and remove from the heat. Let steep for about 20 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and discard the lavender. Let cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Grease and flour three 8-inch (20cm) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir together 180g of the lavender milk and the sour cream.
- Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the ingredients on low speed until just combined. Add the butter, vanilla, and about ½ cup (120ml) of the lavender milk mixture. mix on medium until evenly distributed and the dry ingredients are moistened, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the eggs to the remaining lavender milk mixture and stir to combine. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in three additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition and stopping the mixer between additions to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely, right-side up, on the wire rack before removing the parchment. Level the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife as needed.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and ½ cup (120ml) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the lavender. Simmer the syrup for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep until cool. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and discard the lavender.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth. Meanwhile, sift the confectioner’s sugar. With the mixer running on low, gradually add 5 cups (625g) of the confectioner’s sugar, 3 Tbsp of the cream, and the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium high and mix until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup (125g) confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup (65g) at a time, and / or the remaining 1 Tbsp of cream until the desired consistency is reached. It should be spreadable and creamy, not runny.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
- Generously brush the cake layers with the lavender syrup. Place one cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Place about ⅓ cup (80ml) of the cream cheese frosting on top and spread it with an offset spatula. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip with some of the cream cheese frosting. Pipe a ring around the outer top edge of the cake to create a “dam”. Pipe a second ring of cream cheese frosting a couple of inches in from the outer ring, to create a “bulls-eye”.
- Use a spoon to fill in the gaps between the rings of the cream cheese frosting with ¼ to ⅓ cup (60 to 120ml) of the blackberry jam. Top with a second cake layer and repeat; place the final cake layer on top.
- Crumb coat the cake with the cream cheese frosting and chill for 15 minutes. Frost the cake with the remaining cream cheese buttercream.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
- Put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gently whisk them by hand to combine. In a medium saucepan, bring an inch or two (2.5 to 5cm) of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Heat the egg mixture, whisking intermittently, until it reaches 160°f / 70°c on a candy thermometer.
- Carefully affix the mixer bowl to the stand mixer (it may be hot) and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until the mixture holds medium-stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl has cooled to room temperature.
- Turn the mixer down to low and add the vanilla. Add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
- Turn the mixer to medium high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
Note - If your buttercream is a little soupy, refrigerate for 15 minutes then re-whip. You need it to be firm enough to pipe with.
DECORATE THE CAKE
- Tint a small amount of buttercream green for the leaves. Tint the remaining buttercream the colors of your choice for the flowers. Cut about 30 2-inch (5cm) squares of parchment paper. Dab a small amount of buttercream on a flower nail and secure a square of parchment on top. Fill piping bags fitted with various piping tips with the tinted buttercream (I like to use a coupler so that I can switch out the tips). I used a petal Wilton #103 and #104 tip, a Wilton #81 tip for the Mum flower, and a small round tip for the little blobby flowers. Tessa has a great tutorial , and there are lots online!
- Pipe various buttercream flowers on top of the parchment squares, then transfer the flowers to a baking sheet or cutting board. Chill the piped flowers in the fridge until firm, at least 15 minutes.
- To create the flower crown, pipe a ring of buttercream around the top of the cake, about 1 inch (2.5cm) from the edge. Carefully peel the chilled flowers off their parchment squares and use a small offset spatula to arrange them on the ring of buttercream, angling them slightly in and away from the center of the cake.
- Fill a piping bag with a leaf tip with the green buttercream and pipe leaves to fill in any gaps between the flowers.
- Chill in the fridge until 30 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Reprinted with permission from ‘Icing on the Cake’ by Tessa Huff