Earl Grey, Chocolate, and Raspberry Layer Cake | Cake Decorating 101
September 30, 2018
The End of a Long Break
Happy Last Day of September Folks! Today marks the last post related to this month’s concept: Interlude. I hope you had as much as I did exploring what my definition of relaxation means.
Tomorrow, I’ve scheduled to release October’s concept, and it is one that I’m extremely excited for. Next month’s concept is a project in itself that celebrates the people, places, and communities that I grew up with. Keep your eyes open & ears peeled for the full deets!
In the meantime, I suggest you enjoy this short piece on cake icing tips to layer cake building I’ve learned over the past few weeks!
Cake Decorating 101 - The Brad & Butter Version
Be Patient | Starting off with the hardest part of the cake decorating process by far: exercising patience. Several components of this bake require time for cooling, reducing, and chilling. To reduce bake-stress, I even suggest making the chocolate ganache and raspberry compote the night before. Other than that, the process really can be a waiting game.
Coat the Crumbs | This tip is all over the web, but I can’t emphasize how crucial a crumb coat is to the cake decorating process. Make sure to coat both the sides AND the top of the cake with a thin layer of icing before moving on to your final layer. Oh, and be patient when giving the cake time to chill (yep, back to square one).
Be Generous | This cake icing tip applies to the swiss meringue buttercream or outer layer of icing . Some people prefer to pipe their buttercream, but I’m definitely more of a grab-and-go kind of guy. I say simply use your offset spatula to slather the buttercream on the cake. This gives you more room for error when you smooth the sides because you have more to work with. Of course, no matter which way you slice it, both methods will produce the desired result if done correctly.
Bench Scrapper is Queen | To be honest, trying to smooth the sides of a layer cake with a spatula is a pain no one should have to go through. Doing so requires an uncanny level of coordination between spinning the cake stand and rotating your wrist so that the flat side of the spatula is always in contact with the side of the cake. For the technologically advanced method, simply position your bench scrapper at an acute angle to the side of the cake and spin away!
Unleash the Perfectionist | And of course, a skill I have come to learn, even as a disorganized college student. When it comes to baking and icing, perfection in consistency is key. Make sure each surface of the cake is iced as smooth as a baby’s bottom. If you can’t do this yet, then practice practice practice. (Bonus tip: if you really can’t smooth out the sides or top, disguise your imperfections with garnishes such as flowers or macarons).
It’s been a while since I’ve attempted a bake with several components. From what I can remember, only my attempted entremets have as many parts as this bake does, so this was a pleasant challenge to take on.
I don’t want to reveal the story behind this bake just yet because I’m saving the story for the near-future as this bake is a huge milestone in life baking blogger career. However, I will say that this is probably my best attempt at the cake decorating process as a whole. From here on out, it’s just practice, practice, practice!
But in the meantime, I think I’ll just snack on a slice of cake.
For the Earl Grey Genoise Sponge
93.75g of granulated white sugar
93.75g of all-purpose flour
0.75 tsp. of baking powder
1 tbsp of earl grey (appx. 3 tea bags)
18g of butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
For the Earl Grey Syrup
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar
1 bag of earl grey tea
For the Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of dark baking chocolate
For the Raspberry Compote
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp. of lemon juice
For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
68g of egg whites (approximately 2 large eggs)
124g of granulated white sugar
226g of unsalted butter
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
Earl Grey Genoise Sponge
Lightly butter a tall 6-inch baking tin. Pour 1 tbsp. of flour into the baking tin and tilt so it coats the sides and bottom of the baking tin. Tap out and discard the excess flour.
Sift the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Using a spice grinder or mortar & pestle, grind the earl grey from 3 tea bags to a fine powder.
Melt the butter over medium heat until melted and stir in the ground tea powder, removing the pan from the heat. Set aside.
In a separate, empty bowl, use an hand mixer to whip the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (ribbon stage)
Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the whipped eggs in two batches until fully incorporated. Fold in the tea and butter mixture.
Bake in a preheated 180C/355F degree oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the sponge spring back when lightly prodded.
Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.
Earl Grey Syrup
Bring the water and sugar to a boil.
Remove from heat and steep the earl grey for at least 10 minutes.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Heat the heavy cream until just boiling
Pour over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.
Whisk until completely smooth. Let cool at room temperature until thick and similar in consistency to frosting. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
Lick the remaining ganache off of the whisk. Just kidding. Sort of.
Bring all ingredients to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to low and slowly reduce the mixture until thick & sticky.
Remove from heat and transfer to a container to cool to room temperature.
Don’t forget to lick the spoon.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Over a bain marie, whisk the sugar and egg whites by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is slightly hot to the touch.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk using a hand mixer until the meringue is thick and creamy and cool to the touch.
Slowly whisk in cubes of butter into the meringue, adding another addition after the previous is combined. Whisk until shiny and emulsified.
Mix in the vanilla until incorporated.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in thirds, removing the dome in the process. Brush each layer with the Earl Grey Syrup.
Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache over the first cake layer. Pipe a ganache border around the edge of the cake and pour a third of the raspbery compote in the middle. Pipie another thin layer of ganache on top of the compote and smooth out with an offset spatula. *
Repeat for the second layer. Place the final layer of cake on top and crumb coat the cake with the remaining ganache. Chill in the fridge until the ganache is firm to the touch.
Cover the entire cake with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Be generous!
Smooth the sides with a bench scraper and the top layer buttercream with an offset spatula.
Decorate with fresh or buttercream flowers!
* If you find that the ganache is too thin, chill the cake in the fridge before repeating with the next layer.