Good afternoon! Today I have a funny cake story to share with you. I baked this ridiculous cake for myself as a birthday cake this year and got in big trouble because of it! I guess I was just so curious about making this cake–a Blood Orange Thyme Cake– that my enthusiasm got the better of me. To my horror, my mom had already baked me a cake for our family birthday dinner. Big oops. What kind of nut job bakes their own birthday cake she reminded me?? Oh, I guess that’s me. I am that kind of nut job!!
So as soon as this cake came out of the oven, it went right into the freezer for future appreciation so-to-speak. A few days later, my sister and I decided to decorate the cake for ourselves anyways, and bring it to our favourite restaurant where we were celebrating our 28th birthday together “dinner-date” style. In case you don’t already know, I have a twin! So I felt a little less guilty pulling out all the bells and whistles for my own birthday cake… because it was also her birthday cake too..! OK I still went a little overboard on this one, I admit…and the other guests at the Mackenzie Room were sure to agree…
Either way, this cake was so fun to decorate. The recipe called for a buttercream, a syrup AND a glaze. (bells and whistles!!) The flavours of each decorative texture added such complexity to the dessert, and it really was worth all the effort to bring this cake to life. The fluffy raspberry buttercream was smooth and tart, the thick blood orange glaze oozed between the layers, and the crown of the cake adorned with a thyme wreath and dribbly blood orange glaze added such a dramatic touch to the cake’s overall look. (I sound like I am describing a wedding dress!) My favourite part was the cake’s sweet and savoury flavour. To me, that is the best flavour in the world.
After dinner and after downing our shared bottle of pinot noir, we decided to start eating this wonder. So hilarious.. after cutting a slice like the little proper ladies that we are, we literally decided to say heck with it and started spooning into the cake with abandon. It was all ours!! So feisty and greedy of us. Amidst all the goofy table manners, I had such a blast on my birthday this year and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my 28 years than with my twin sister, at our favourite restaurant in Vancouver and with. this.cake. Mmm. . I wish you could have been there too to dig into this cake with us. ;) (If we let you!)
Blood Orange Thyme Cake
Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake
2 1/4 cup cake flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp baking soda 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed firmly 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 1/2 tbsp finely grated blood orange zest 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 3 large eggs 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 6 inch cake pans.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugars and the orange zest. Turn mixer to medium high and mix butter until light and fluffy, 3-5 mins. Scrape down bowl and stop mixer.
4. Turn mixer to medium low and add vanilla, then eggs and egg yolk one at a time. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl.
5. Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix on medium speed for no more than 30 seconds after the last of the dries have been added.
6. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 mins before removing cakes from their pans.
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp large egg whites 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed. 2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cups fresh raspberries 2 tsp granulated sugar
1. Place egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place over medium high heat. Place th emixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom part of the pan shouldn’t touch the water.
2. Whisking intermittently, heat egg mixture until it registers 160 F on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Once hot, carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8-10 mins, until it holds medium stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the bowl should return to room temperature, and no residual heat should escape the meringue mixture through the top. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
4. With mixer on low speed, add the butter, a few tbsp at a time, then the vanilla. It is absolutely imperative that the butter is a room temperature. If you are unsure, zap the butter in the microwave for about 6 seconds. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer to medium high and beat buttercream to silky smooth, 3-5 mins.
5. Blend the raspberries and sugar together in a food processor until combined.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix buttercream until silky smooth. Add 1.4 cup of pureed raspberries and mix until combined.
7. Buttercream may be stored in an airtight container in fridge for up to 10 days or in freezer for 10 months. Bring to room temp before remixing.
Blood Orange Thyme Syrup
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice (from 2-3 oranges) 1/2 cup granulated sugar 5-8 sprigs of thyme
1. Place orange juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and add the thyme. Simmer for about 8 mins. Remove mixture from the heat and let steep until cool. Strain the syrup before use and discard thyme.
Blood Orange Glaze
1 1/4 cup icing sugar2 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh blood orange juice
1. In a small bowl, whisk the icing sugar and orange juice together until sugar has dissolved. If a thicker glaze is desired, use more sugar. Pour glaze onto centre of the top of the cake. Spread it evenly with a spatula and let it drip over the edges. Decorate the top with a crown of thyme for garnish!
To Decorate: Once cakes have cooled, make sure that they are all level. If not, use a knife and flatten tops. Generously brush the cake layers with the blood orange thyme syrup. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate and spread 3/4 cup of the buttercream on top of it with a spatula. Top the next layer in the same manner, ending with the third layer. Using any remaining buttercream, fill in any gaps between layers to give the cake a rustic look. Garnish top as described above. Enjoy!!
And that’s my funny birthday cake story this year! I hope you give this cake a try too. It was definitely a project, but a really enjoyable one to complete. Take care and have a lovely day ahead.
PS: My favourite birthday restaurant in Vancouver
PPS: A free, outdoor orchestra concert in Vancouver tomorrow! (see me on stage :)
PPPS: Stories about strangers.