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Earl Grey Blackberry Cake

by Rachel Gaewski and Karlee Rotoly

Ingredients

for 12 servings

Cake

  • nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • 2 cups
    whole milk (480 mL)
  • 3 tablespoons
    earl grey tea, divided
  • 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup
    honey (335 g)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups
    all purpose flour (375 g)
  • 2 teaspoons
    baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon
    baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon
    kosher salt
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped

Frosting

  • 6 oz
    blackberry (170 g)
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • 3 cups
    powdered sugar (360 g)

Assembly

  • 18 oz
    blackberry, halved lengthwise, plus 6 ounces (170 G) whole and halved, divided (540 g)
  • 10 edible flowers, such as purple and white pansies
  • earl grey tea, for garnish

Special Equipment

  • cake turntable
  • parchment paper round, 9 in (22 cm)
  • offset spatula
  • bench scraper

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Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease 3 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Make the cake: In a small pot over medium heat, combine the milk and 2 tablespoons of Earl Grey tea. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to steep for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.
  3. Strain the steeped milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and discard the tea leaves. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the honey and beat to combine. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating to incorporate before adding the next. The mixture will look curdled at this point, but will come together. Sift in half of the flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat just until combined. Add the steeped milk and beat to incorporate. Sift in the remaining flour and beat until just combined. Add the vanilla bean seeds and remaining tablespoon of Earl Grey tea and beat to incorporate. The batter will be relatively thick.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
  6. Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes, until safe to handle. Turn the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely on the wire rack, 25-30 minutes.
  7. Make the frosting: In a small food processor, blend the blackberries into a smooth puree, about 30 seconds. Strain the blackberry puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula to push the mixture through. Discard the seeds and set the puree aside.
  8. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Sift in the powdered sugar, 1 cup (120 G) at a time, and beat to incorporate. Mix in the blackberry puree.
  9. Assemble the cake: Place the cardboard round on the cake turntable. Spread a dab of frosting in the middle and center 1 of the cakes on the round. Using an offset spatula, spread about 1 cup (115 G) of frosting evenly over the top of the cake. Spread evenly into a layer about ½-inch (1 ¼ cm) thick. Arrange half of the halved blackberries, cut sides down, on top of the frosting, pressing down gently into the frosting. Place another cake layer on top and repeat frosting with another cup of frosting and filling with the remaining halved blackberries.
  10. Top with the remaining cake layer. Dollop 1-1½ cups (115 G) of frosting on top. Using the offset spatula, spread the frosting in an even layer across the top, starting from the center and working toward the outer edge. Cover the sides of the cake with more frosting, working from top to bottom down the sides. Remove and reserve any excess frosting. Holding a bench scraper against the side of the cake, slowly spin the turntable to help spread the frosting into a thin “naked” layer. Remove excess frosting from the bench scraper as necessary. Use the offset spatula to add more frosting to the sides to cover up any particularly bare spots and to smooth out the top and edges of the cake. Refrigerate cake for 20 minutes, until the frosting is set.
  11. Pile the whole and halved blackberries in the center of the cake and decorate with the edible flowers. Sprinkle lightly with loose Earl Grey tea leaves.
  12. Slice and serve.
  13. Enjoy!
 

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