Well… I’m officially 16!
I started this blog when I was 13 years old and I have to say, it’s been a super cool way of documenting my progress and growth as a blogger, baker, photographer, writer, and person. It’s also been so much fun getting to interact with people through comments, fun food bloggy things like the cookie swap I participated in earlier this year, and through social media. Thanks for making this such a pleasure and for sticking with me!
For my birthday this year, I took inspiration from Megan at Hint of Vanilla and decided to make, or attempt to make, a three-tiered drippy masterpiece. I actually got the idea for this flavor combo from an ice cream I had at SoCo Creamery while I was in Massachusetts a few months back. A layer cake seemed like a nice vehicle for those flavors, so I went with a lavender cake and a blueberry honey Italian buttercream.
The cake is light and fluffy thanks to a ton of egg whites in the batter, and the buttercream tastes like a dream–smooth and silky, with a hint of honey and a nice punch of blueberry. It’s made with an Italian meringue, which then gets whipped with a lot of butter. Hey, I guess they don’t call it buttercream for nothing.
Rather than deal with slicing layers of cake in half, I took Megan’s advice and used 3 individual 6-inch cakes. That way, the only part of this process that was reliant on my sub-par leveling skills was the trimming of the cake tops… And I was able to fix any errors made there pretty easily with the help of the buttercream.
This cake was a bit of a process, but that was probably mostly because I had to also photograph the whole ordeal. But because I split it into two days, this project was definitely manageable. Maybe even more so than last year’s Momofuku birthday cake!
If you want to replicate the flavors in this cake but don’t want to devote quite as much time to it, just leave out the decorations, drips, and ombré effect and you’ll still have yourself a very yummy layer cake! You could also go with cupcakes and frost them with the buttercream. The possibilities with cake are endless.
Oh, and before I give you the recipe: I leave to be a camp counselor-in-training on Thursday! I
have written am in the process of writing a bunch of posts for you guys to read while I’m gone, but if I’m not replying to comments that would be why. I’ll be sure to catch up on everything on days off and when I get home!
Lavender Layer Cake with Blueberry Honey Buttercream
Makes 1 6-inch tall layer cake
For the lavender cake:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
- 1 1/2-2 teaspoons dried lavender buds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 6 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the blueberry honey buttercream:
- 100 g (equal to approximately 2 1/2-3) egg whites
- 150 g (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 340 g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 11 g (3 tablespoons) freeze-dried blueberry powder (this can be made by grinding freeze-dried blueberries in a food processor)
For the blueberry meringues:
- 50 g (about 1 1/2) egg whites
- 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 5 g (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) freeze-dried blueberry powder
For the decorations:
- Blueberry meringues
- White chocolate ganache (made by pouring 25g hot heavy cream over 60g white chocolate)
- Lavender flowers
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 3 6-inch cake pans.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Place 1 1/4 cups of sugar and the lavender in a food processor and pulse until the lavender is broken up a bit (no need to pulverize it).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the lavender sugar and butter until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Add half of the milk and mix to combine. Repeat, alternating the two more additions of flour and one more addition of milk.
- Transfer the batter to a large bowl and clean and dry the bowl of the stand mixer thoroughly. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the stand mixer bowl and whip on medium speed using the whisk attachment until frothy.
- Raise the mixer speed to medium and whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the last 1/2 cup of sugar and ship until you get medium peaks. ]
- Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the batter and fold until combined. Don’t worry about folding too carefully for this step, as this first addition of egg whites is meant to loosen up the batter and make the folding easier.
- Fold in the remaining egg white in 2-3 additions, folding more carefully this time so as not to deflate the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then invert the cakes and cool completely.
For the buttercream:
- Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a pot of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 60 C/140 F and is no longer gritty when rubbed between your fingers.
- Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and whip on medium high using the whisk attachment until the mixture holds glossy peaks, about 6 minutes.
- With the mixer still on, add the butter a few pieces at a time. If at any point the mixture appears grainy and broken, turn the speed to high until it is re-emulsified.
- Add in the honey and whip to combine.
- Set aside about 200g of the buttercream (a little under 2 cups will do) and fold the blueberry powder into the remaining buttercream.
For the meringues:
- Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
- Heat the egg whites and sugar over simmering water just as described above, then whip until the mixture holds fairly stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in the blueberry powder.
- Load the mixture into a piping bag and pipe out meringue kisses in varying sizes onto the prepared baking sheet. You can pipe them close together. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the meringues are dry.
- Trim the tops of the cakes so that they are flat and even. Place one layer on a cake turntable and spread on 1/3 of the blueberry buttercream. Top with a second cake and spread on half of the remaining buttercream. Place the last layer on top flat-side up, so that the top of the cake is nice and even. Patch any uneven sides with some of the remaining buttercream, but make sure to save a bit to use for smearing. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, or until the buttercream is firm.
- Return the cake to the turntable and, using an offset spatula, coat it with a very thin layer of honey buttercream. This layer is just meant to catch any loose crumbs so that they don’t show in the finished cake. Chill the cake until firm, another 15 minutes.
- Spread 3/4 of the remaining honey buttercream onto the cake. I like to start at the top with a copious amount, then spread it down onto the sides. Once the cake is covered, run your spatula under hot water and dry it off. Use the hot spatula to smooth the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate another 10 minutes.
- Use the rest of the blueberry frosting to create an ombré effect. Start with a generous amount of frosting at the bottom of the cake and smear it until you’re satisfied with the look. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Spoon the white chocolate ganache over the top of the cake (don’t pour it all on at once), using the spoon to push drops of ganache over the edge so they drip down. Once there are drips all around, chill for another 20 minutes to help set the chocolate.
- Decorate with meringues, blueberries, buttercream and lavender!