We made it to New Zealand! I have been eating ALL of the food, and visiting all of the supermarkets. So much fun! So much amazing weather too. Every time I come home I forget how much I have missed it. I'm already dreading leaving, particularly with all the shit that is going on in the States right now. It is our job to stand up and fight, but my goodness it is tempting to just hide in my safe little country forever.
This cake always reminds me of home - It was the top tier of our wedding cake (which was a monster, and was my first ever stacked cake! I made it out only mildly traumatised), so holds a very special place in my heart. I always pair it with german buttercream, which in my opinion is the perfect buttercream - not intensely butter tasting, and you can infuse it with anything because it is custard based, so you can steep the milk with whatever you like before turning it into pastry cream. I went with an ombre finish on the cake, which is actually way way easier than it looks - you just crumb coat the cake, then spread lots of one colour at the top, lots of another at the bottom and then a mixture in between, then smooth it out and you are good to go! You can do whatever colour you like, and if you aren't happy with the finish, it is super easy to just spread on more colour where needed and re smooth!
I finished it off with a ganache drip, which I infused with more lavender. I love drip cakes but somehow never get around to doing them. I find that making sure the cake is very well chilled and the ganache a little more set than you think it needs to be always helps. Allow a good two hours to set your cake before you add the ganache drip, or under-compensate when you are adding them, because they will drip further down than you expect!
I added a little baby's breath on the top becuase I am a sucker for fresh flowers, but you could totally sub these for your favourite flower, or leave them out. Just ensure that if necessary, the ends of the stems are well taped before touching the cake.
Honey Lavender cake with Vanilla german buttercream and lavender ganache drip
- Makes one 6 inch layer cake-
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Honey Lavender Cake
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (90ml) liquid honey
1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) lavender extract (optional)
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp culinary lavender, finely ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
1 cup (240ml) whole milk
Vanilla german buttercream
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste, extract, or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (255g) sugar
3 Tbsp (24g) corn starch
2 egg yolks
3 cups (675g, or 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
pinch of salt
Gel food colouring in your chosen colour
Lavender milk chocolate ganache
200g (7oz) milk chocolate
100g (100ml) heavy cream
1 Tbsp culinary grade lavender
- PROCESS -
LAVENDER HONEY CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350f/180c. Grease and flour three 6 inch cake pans
Using an electric beater, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until pale. Add sugar and beat for another five minutes or until light and fluffy. Add honey, vanilla, and lavender extract, and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and dried lavender.
Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add flour and milk to the batter, and mix until well incorporated.
Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.
VANILLA GERMAN BUTTERCREAM
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.
Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.
Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat for a few minutes until smooth and silky.
LAVENDER CHOCOLATE GANACHE
NOTE: do not prepare ganache until ready to use - the cake requires 1-2 hours to cool so ensure to allow enough time for this.
In a medium pot over low heat, heat the cream until almost boiling. Add culinary lavender and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and top up to 100G if necessary. Return the strained cream to the stove and heat again until hot and just beginning to boil.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly.
Level off the cakes. Place the bottom layer on a turntable or cake plate, securing with a small amount of buttercream underneath. Place a generous amount of buttercream on the cake, smooth out, and place the second layer carefully on top, ensuring that it is level. Repeat the process until the cake is stacked. Give the cake a thin layer of buttercream on the top and outside of the cake to act as the 'crumb coat', and allow to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes until set.
While the cake is resting, transfer a small amount of buttercream (about 3/4-1cup) to a separate bowl, and dye your desired shade of purple using gel food colouring. Keep the remainder of the buttercream white.
Remove the cake from the fridge. Using an offset spatula, apply a solid band of purple around the base of the cake, and a solid band of white around the top of the cake. Apply both purple and white buttercream to the middle of the cake to create an ombre effect until the cake is fully covered (see photos for a guide). Using a bench scraper or icing scraper, smooth the edges of the cake. Fill in any holes or bare spots and re-smooth. Keep the top of the cake white. Rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until cold - this will help stop the ganache from running.
Remove the cake from the fridge and using a teaspoon, carefully spoon the ganache onto the cake a small amount at a time, coaxing it toward the edge so that it drips down the sides of the cake. You can make the drips as close together or far apart as you like. Begin with a small amount of ganache on your spoon and do a 'test drip' to see how far down the cake it will travel before adding the rest of the drips. Once you have added drips all around the cake, add more ganache to the top of the cake using the spoon, smoothing it with the back of the spoon to create a smooth top.
Rest in the fridge to allow the ganache to set, then decorate with your choice of flowers.