What is your favourite bubble tea? We very recently put on masks and scarily hit up THE MALL to get bubble tea at Chatime with Teddy’s cousins. Everything with Horrible Covid feels terrifying until you do it. The first time I went grocery shopping in March, I had so much anxiety. Now, wearing masks in stores and sanitizing your hands constantly is this terrible new norm. The mall was fairly sparse, most people were wearing masks and staying far apart from each other. We parked right by the food fair entrance and whisked in to pick up our taro slushes with pearls and banana milk teas with pearls… little hits of normalcy, my first bubble tea in many months! It also reminded me… that I never posted this DEEEELICIOUS Yuanyang coffee milk tea cake I made in the Fall! Sheesh.
I wanted to make a special cake to commemorate my sweet friend Cynthia‘s brilliant cookbook A Common Table – a drool-worthy book seriously slam-jammed with every delicious thing you want to eat, comfort food with Asian and Southern (!!) twists. Cynthia has a recipe for Hong Kong style coffee tea in her book – brewed coffee, and milky tea made with condensed milk, combined to create a caffeine blast of flavour! This cake features coffee milk tea soaked vanilla cake layers, coffee milk tea swiss meringue buttercream, crispy cute meringue kisses and fresh raspberries!
I love the little milky tea bits speckled throughout the buttercream. The buttercream has a few steps, but the tea flavour is so lovely – you steep the tea in melted butter, strain the butter and re-chill the butter until it’s roughly room temperature. It’s a butter-steeping trick I learned from the amazing Tessa of Style Sweet! Another trick I’ve discovered when making swiss meringue buttercream – swoop up a bit of the whipped meringue right before adding the butter. Pipe the meringue into kisses onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and voila – you’ll have crispy cute textural decorations for the top of your cake!
Yuanyang Coffee Milk Tea Cake
For the coffee milk tea
- 2 cups water
- 4 Ceylon or English Breakfast tea bags
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup strong coffee, hot
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
For the vanilla cake
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
For the coffee milk tea buttercream
- 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup loose ceylon or English breakfast tea leaves, or four tea bags
- 1 cup egg whites, about 7 to 8 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure coffee extract
- 2 tablespoons coffee milk tea mixture
- pinch of salt
For the decoration
- Fresh raspberries, gently washed and dried
- Meringue kisses
- Piping bag fitted with open star tip filled half way with coffee milk tea buttercream
Make the coffee milk tea sooak
- Steep tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the baking soda, then the coffee.
- Stir in the evaporated milk and the sweetened condensed milk. Add more sugar to taste, if desired.
- Let mixture cool to room temperature.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons of coffee milk tea for adding to the buttercream.
Make the cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line three 6 inch x 2 inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk to combine.
- Pour in the melted butter and oil.
- Gently stir everything together until the batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly into the three prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean with only moist crumbs attached.
- Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Make the buttercream
- In a medium sauce pan on low to medium heat, combine the butter and the loose tea leaves until the butter melts. Reduce to low heat and allow to 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.
- If making meringue kisses, fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with up to one cup of meringue. Pipe drop stars on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until dried out and crisp.
- On the stand mixer, 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, add the coffee extract, pinch of salt, then the first tablespoon of coffee milk tea and turn the mixer to medium-high and beat to combine; add the final tablespoon and beat on medium high until buttercream is thick and lustrous.
Decorate the cake
- Place a 7 inch round cake board or cake platter of your choice on a cake turntable. Add a dollop of buttercream, then place the first cake layer on top, levelling if need be. Using a pastry brush, soak the layer with coffee milk tea. You can be fairly generous with the soak – you don’t want it to soak so much that it loses structure, so start with one layer of soak, let it seep into the layer then add additional soak layers.
- Once the layer has been soaked, spread a generous amount of coffee milk tea buttercream on top. Repeat with the next two layers.
- Frost the entire exterior of the cake, using a cake bench scraper to smooth. Chill first layer of buttercream in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and add a second layer of buttercream, again using scraper to smooth, if desired.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with an open star tip with remaining buttercream (any leftovers can be used for future cupcakes!).
- Pipe drop stars on the top of the cake, nestling fresh raspberries and meringue kisses amongst the piping, in a pattern that pleases you. Reserve additional berries and meringues for serving!