Spring is finally here! There's rhubarb, and ramps, and peonies, and lilacs, and green things at the farmer's market, which for me is a sure sign that shitty NYC winter is gone, and shitty NYC summer is on it's way! Living the dream, I tell you. I have been spending the majority of my days smack bang in front of the kitten's cage. I just can't believe how quickly they have grown - we now have 5 energetic little pocket rockets, who all have their own personalities. I am so in love with each and every one of them, and have a strange feeling I am going to have a very, very hard time saying goodbye once they are old enough to be adopted.
Something else that is also on the way is Mother's day! Even though my own Mum lives a zillion million miles away in New Zealand, I put this one together with her in mind. It sucks being so far away on special occasions (and all occasions really, it just sucks in general). She isn't a fan of chocolate, or anything too sweet (clearly I inherited Dad's taste buds), so I went with an almond meal, lemon, and raspberry combination, with minimal amounts of buttercream. I had been keeping it in the back of my mind for a while, and then when the lovely Sarah surprised me with this beautiful pink cake plate in the mail, I knew exactly what had to go on top!
This cake tastes like spring. Layers of cake, dense from the almond meal, are lightly scented with lemon, and then offset with the tartness of a good handful of raspberries pressed into the top of each layer. I wanted the flavours to really shine, so I sandwiched the layers with a small amount of vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, and finished with more raspberries. I decided to keep things naked this time. Ayyyeeee. The overall finished product is a cake that isn't too sweet, and perfect for any celebration. The cake batter itself is fairly neutral flavoured, so I would think that it would work with berries, stone fruit, rhubarb, etc. You could probably even pop some apples in the top. I can't wait to try it with some lemon curd between the layers too! Yummmm. I have a feeling this is going to be a standard go-to when I am needing a non-chocolate cake.
A few wee things:
- I made this in 3 6 inch cake tins. It resulted in three quite tall layers, so therefore a fairly high cake once it was stacked with buttercream. It could definitely be made in two 8 inch layers, and stacked up to make a shorter cake - just make sure to adjust the baking time.
- I went with a naked finish which uses a fairly small amount of buttercream. If you were wanting to frost this on the outside of the cake, increase the ratios of ingredients in the buttercream to 140g egg whites, 140g sugar, and 4 sticks (450g) butter.
- If fresh raspberries aren't in season, frozen work just as well in the top of the cake, and you can either leave them out between the layers, or use frozen, although be aware that they will bleed when they defrost.
- I initially decorated this with baby's breath, but was slightly unsure on the look, so went with a pile of raspberries instead, which are great for adding a little freshness when serving. I popped a photo of the baby's breath version down below for you to see too though!
Raspberry and almond cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
- Makes one six inch, three layered cake -
Cake recipe adapted from The Caker
Raspberry, lemon and Almond Cake
340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp) sugar
150g (1/2 cup) maple syrup
6 eggs, at room temperature
200g (2 1/2 cups) almond meal
200g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
225g (8oz) fresh or frozen Raspberries
Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream
105g (3.7oz) egg whites
105g (3.7oz) sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
3 sticks (340g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To Garnish (optional)
225g (8oz) Fresh Raspberries
- PROCESS -
RASPBERRY, LEMON AND ALMOND CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350f/180c. Grease and flour three 6-inch baking tins and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and maple syrup and beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and almond meal, and mix briefly to combine. Add the lemon juice and zest, and mix until combined.
Divide the batter between the three tins, spreading out using the back of a spoon to flatten. Divide the raspberries between the three cakes, sprinkling over the surface of the cake, and pressing down lightly.
Bake the cakes for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake springs back lightly to the touch, and a cake tester or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in the tin. Turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
In the bowl of stand mixer, combine egg whites, vanilla, and sugar. Whisk briefly until combined. Place the bowl of the mixer over a small saucepan of water, taking care that the water does not touch the bowl. Turn the heat to medium.
Whisking occasionally to prevent the egg white cooking, bring the egg mixture to 150f/65c. Place the bowl back onto the mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume and is completely cool. Feel the outside of the bowl with your hands - there should be no trace of heat left (this is especially important for the next step to ensure that the butter does not melt when you add it). Cooling may take up to 20 minutes.
Once the bowl is cool, with the motor running, add the butter one chunk at a time, incorporating well between each addition. If the mixture looks curdled/melted, do not worry, just continue whipping and it will come together. Whip until the buttercream is smooth and silky. Switch to the paddle attachment and whip on low for a few minutes to help eliminate any large air bubbles.
If necessary, level off the cakes using a bread knife. Fit a piping bag with a large open star tip (I used an Ateco 827 tip), and fill with buttercream. Place the first layer of cake on a turntable or cake stand. Pipe a layer of 'blobs' onto the first layer. Top with a small handful of raspberries. Place the second layer of cake on the first, and repeat the process with the buttercream and raspberries. Place the final layer on top, and smooth a thin layer of buttercream over the top of the cake using an offset spatula. Top with fresh raspberries, fresh raspberries and flowers, or your choice of decoration. Store in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 1 hour before serving.