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Earl Grey Blackberry Cake with Torched Meringue

By: Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land
Makes: 12 slices

ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries, chopped into smaller pieces

For the Earl Grey Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

For the meringue

  • 1/4 cup (75 ml) egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar

For the caramel and fillings

  • For the fillings, I used store-bought blackberry jam and store-bought lemon curd.
  • You could also use store-bought caramel or dulce de leche; simply warm it up slightly to loosen it so it “drips.”

instructions

Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 7×2 inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray and parchment paper rounds.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
  • Add the pure vanilla extract.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the whole milk, ending with the flour mixture.
  • Mix until incorporated into a batter, about 30 seconds – do not over mix!
  • Fold in half of the chopped blackberries; divide the other half into three equal portions.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans; use an offset spatula to level the batter.
  • Sprinkle each batter-filled pan with the remaining blackberries, pressing in lightly.
  • Bake on the centre rack for 23-25 minutes, turning pans halfway to ensure even baking. Cake is baked when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Make the buttercream

  • Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for another 5 minutes.
  • Strain the butter through a fine-mesh-sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate until it reaches softened butter consistency – 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisking to combine.
  • Fill a medium saucepan with water and place it over medium-high heat.
  • Place the stand mixer bowl on top, creating a double-boiler effect (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water.)
  • Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) on a candy thermometer.
  • Carefully move the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.
  • Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed for about 8-10 minutes until it reaches medium-stiff peaks. The mixture should have cooled down now to room temperature.
  • Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla paste, tea infused butter and remaining 1 cup of butter about a tablespoon at a time.
  • Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until buttercream is thick and lustrous.
  • (If your swiss meringue buttercream “breaks” apart, your butter might have been too cold – place the stand mixer bowl back onto the water filled saucepan and gently heat up for a minute or so, then try beating the mixture again. You’d be amazed at how something can go from curdled soup to fluffy perfect buttercream. See this post for more troubleshooting tips!)

Make the meringue

  • Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisking to combine.
  • Fill a medium saucepan with water and place it over medium-high heat.
  • Place the stand mixer bowl on top, creating a double-boiler effect (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water.)
  • Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) on a candy thermometer.
  • Carefully move the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.
  • Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed for about 8-10 minutes until it reaches medium-stiff peaks, glossy and fluffy.

Assemble the cake

  • Using a serrated knife, level off your cake layers, reserving trimmings for chowing down on later.
  • Place a dab of buttercream on a cake board or large plate and put the first cake layer on top.
  • Using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe a generous buttercream dam on the top far edge of the cake layer.
  • Fill the center area with blackberry jam.
  • Place the second cake layer cut-side-down on top of the first.
  • Pipe another generous buttercream dam on top of the second layer.
  • Fill the center area of the second layer with lemon curd.
  • Place the final cake layer cut-side-down on top, pressing in lightly to adhere. Slightly adjust your layers as needed.
  • Using an offset spatula, frost the entire cake with a crumb coat, using a cake bench scraper to smoothe as needed.
  • Place the cake in the freezer to set up, about 12 minutes, or in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Remove cake from the freezer; using your offset spatula, frost a second layer of buttercream, smoothing with cake bench scraper.
  • Place the cake back into the freezer for about 12 minutes.
  • Remove cake from the freezer. Using a small spoon, add drips of caramel.
  • Using a large spoon, dollop a generous amount of meringue on top of the cake. Using your spoon (but without touching the cake), spread the meringue into an artful “swath”, going across the center of the cake and going down one side.
  • Get your blowtorch ready! In a safe uncluttered area of your kitchen, torch the meringue in little bursts to avoid melting away your buttercream. (freezing it beforehand as above will help here too); torch until you’re satisfied with the toasted-level of your meringue.
  • Finally, decorate with blackberries, fresh fruit and/or edible flowers!

notes

Earl Grey Buttercream recipe from the wonderful cake book Layered by Tessa Huff
For the Caramel and Fillings, I used leftover caramel from a previous cake, made from this recipe by Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog!