Orange Thyme Cake


Another episode of distant kitchens! We decided to go with cake this time! I'm so, so excited to continue on with this wee collab with Stacy and see what it brings us. Yet again we managed to come up with totally different things to each other - I had one big cake whereas Stacy had an entire entourage of baby ones! 

What better place to get a cake recipe than Tessa Huff's book 'Layered'. I have had the book for a while, and was so excited to finally make something from it! It is the most incredible book, and Tessa is not only super lovely, but INSANELY talented! If you haven't checked the book out already I really can't recommend it enough, it has one of everything - you will always be able to find a cake for every occasion in there! 

We chose an Orange and Thyme cake. And we chose well! I would never have thought to put thyme in a cake, but it just goes so well with the orange. The cake is comprised of a brown sugar buttermilk cake, brushed with orange and thyme syrup, filled with a raspberry buttercream, and finished with an orange glaze. The original recipe called for blood oranges but as they are not in season at the moment, both Stacy and I subbed regular oranges. I also added a little raspberry juice to the glaze to give it the lovely pink colour. 

The original recipe called for a swiss meringue buttercream, but I just so happened to have a batch of German buttercream (which is based on a pastry cream and is a little less common than our friend swiss buttercream) in the fridge, so I used that instead, and it seemed to work beautifully! I am a huge fan of German buttercream, as it isn't too intensely buttery, and it stands up super well to heat! We used it for our wedding cake and I am so glad we did! Zero meltage. I added raspberry puree to most of the buttercream and used that to fill the cake, then reserved some unflavoured white buttercream to use on the outside of the cake. If you prefer to use a swiss buttercream, you can find Tessa's recipe here, or the one that Stacy used on her blog.

A quick tip - when making the glaze for the top of the cake, make sure that you make it a lot thicker than you think you will need! It runs a lot further than you would think, particularly if it is a warm day. 

The buttercream recipe makes a fair amount so you will likely have a little left over depending on how thickly you frost your cake (I had about a cup and a half) - however it freezes amazingly so I always like to keep some in the freezer for another time. I like to make the pastry cream for the buttercream while the cake is cooking so that they both have time to cool.

A wee note about leftovers - the syrup is AMAZING as a drink in a little soda water. 

Enjoy! And please don't forget, if you give this a go to use the hashtag #distantkitchens when you share your creation! 




Orange and Thyme cake
- Makes one three layer six inch cake-

Adapted from 'layered'

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake
2 1/4 (295g) Cake Flour (I made my own using this)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cups (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (190g) Packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (210ml) buttermilk (I made my own with milk and 3/4 tsp lemon juice)

Thyme Syrup
1/2 cup (120ml) Freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
Small handful of fresh thyme

Raspberry German buttercream
3/4 cup (90g) fresh raspberries
2 tsp sugar
1 cup (240ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 Tbsp Corn starch
1 egg
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2 cups (450g) butter, cubed, at room temperature

Orange Glaze
1 1/4 cup (155g) sifted powdered sugar, plus more as needed to thicken the glaze
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp (20ml) fresh orange juice
Small amount of raspberry juice, or a few drops of pink food colouring

To Garnish
1/2 a pint/6 oz/170g Raspberries
Thyme Sprigs



Preheat oven to 350f/180c. Grease and flour three six inch cake tins. If making your own buttermilk, add the acid to the milk and set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add the orange zest and vanilla and beat until incorporated. 

While the butter is creaming, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Scrape down the bowl of the mixer. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 

With the mixer running on low, add a third of the flour, alternating with half of the buttermilk. Ensure that you begin and end with the flour. Mix until just combined. 

Divide the batter between three cake tins. Place a small ramekin of water in the oven to help reduce doming. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in their tins before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. 


In a bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk 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. 

In a food processor or blender, combine the raspberries and 2 tsp sugar into a puree. If you would like it smooth, press it through a sieve over a bowl and discard the seeds. I chose to keep the seeds in as it looks more rustic. 

Reserve about a cup of the buttercream for the white outside of the cake. Combine the rest of the buttercream with the raspberry mixture.


In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and orange juice. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for approx 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain to remove the thyme


If you are wanting to use a turn table to help assemble the cakes, remember that for the final glaze, you will need to transfer the cake to the dish that you will be serving it on, as the glaze will drip down onto the plate, so ice the cake, then transfer it if needed before glazing.

Level off the cakes. Place the bottom layer on a turntable or cake plate, and brush liberally with the thyme syrup. Using an offset spatula, spread on approx. 3/4 cup of the raspberry german buttercream. Smooth down, and place the second layer on top. Repeat the process, brushing syrup on every layer, until the cake is stacked. Use your offset spatula to fill in the gaps between the layers with extra buttercream. Place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Remove and roughly coat the outside of the cake with the white buttercream, either using a cake scraper or an offset spatula to smooth. 

Transfer the cake to the plate that you will be serving it on. To make the glaze, mix the orange juice and powdered sugar together to form a runny paste. If you would like the glaze to be pink, add either a drop of pink food colouring, or push a few raspberries through a sieve, adding the juice to the glaze. Add more icing sugar if necessary, to reach the desired consistency. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, coaxing it to drip down the sides a little. Decorate the top of the cake with Raspberries, and additional Thyme.

Head over to Stacys blog to see her finished product and process!