Delicate Honey + Floral Layer Cake
It's almost Mother's Day, everyone! I know it's a bit of a Hallmark holiday, but I can't deny that I'm a little excited about it since I'll finally be celebrating it as a new mom. My little goose is just over two months old, and I couldn't love him more. We're finally starting to see his personality, and it turns out he's a lovable grouch. We rarely get big, goofy smiles, but we do get frequent brow furrowing and wry grins. He's the perfect combination of his parents - he looks just like me and acts just like his father.
He fits right in.
Anyway, with Mother's Day comes Mother's Day gifts, and that got me thinking - I really love flowers, but I love eating more. So how about combining flowers and food? Enter the Honey + Floral Layer Cake. I originally made this cake last year for The School of Styling, but now I'm happy to share the recipe with you.
To make the honey-sweetened cake layers pancake thin, I baked them in a sheet pan and then cut them to size. But I altered the recipe in order to make less waste; now you just need to bake the cake in two 6-inch pans and slice them thinly. Then I stacked the layers with fresh violet jam and silky rose buttercream and decorated the whole cake with the tiniest buds. Apart from the wax flowers, they'r all edible - the mini marigolds, micro orchids, star flowers, buzz buttons, and chamomile. You can have them shipped overnight through Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.
I love how bright and cheerful this cake is, inside and out. It was fun to put together, and it's the perfect spring treat to share with someone you love. Enjoy, and happy Mother's Day!
Delicate Honey + Floral Layer Cake
Yields one 6-inch layer cake
1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpouse flour*
1 tablespoon cornstarch (see Note 1)
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup honey
½ cup (4 ounces; 1 stick) butter, room temperature*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
*Additonal flour and butter needed for coating the cake pans
Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces; 2 5/8 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoons rose extract (to taste)
Filling & Assembly
1/2 cup violet jelly (available online)
Optional: edible micro flowers
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 6-inch cake pans by first coating them with additional softened butter. Then cover the bottom interior of each pan with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit. Then coat the parchment paper with more butter and finish by coating the entire interior with flour. Tap out the excess and set aside. Alternatively, you could use non-stick baking spray and parchment paper, but the paper may not adhere as well.
In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt (see Note 1). Set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium high for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on high speed for a minute between each. Then add the honey and beat for another minute. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Next, alternately stir in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk, and so forth until all of the flour and milk have been added to the batter. Be sure to stir on low speed until just combined between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to pick up any left-over ingredients. Evenly distribute the batter in the prepared cake pans and bake on the center rack for about 25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges of the cake are pulling away from the pan).
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 15 minutes inside the pans. Then carefully invert the pans over a cooling rack to remove the cakes, peel off the parchment paper, flip them right-side up, and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Whisk the sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar together in the metal bowl of an electric stand mixer (or in the top of a double boiler) over a pot of simmering water. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Whisk until the sugar completely dissolves, then clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the bowl. Continue to whisk and heat the mixture until it reaches 160°F using a candy thermometer. This may take 5-7 minutes.
Once at 160°F, remove the mixing bowl from the pot of water and wipe the condensation off of the bottom. If you were using a double boiler instead, simply pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the mixing bowl to the electric stand mixer and whip on high speed until it turns glossy and stiff peaks form. Then stir on low speed to cool the mixture down until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature. This could take 15 minutes. Once at room temperature, switch to the paddle attachment and add the softened butter to the meringue a couple tablespoons at a time, mixing constantly on medium speed.
Once all of the butter has been added, increase to medium high speed and continue to whip until smooth and thick. Even if the butter looks curdled, just keep whipping until it smooths out. Finally, add the rose extract, and mix on low speed to combine. Be sure to start with a small amount extract then add more to your liking. It can quickly become overpowering.
When finished, store the icing in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or store in the fridge until needed. Just be sure that it is room temperature before you try to use it.
Once you're ready to build the finished cake, carefully cut each cooled cake into four equal layers. These will be very thin and delicate, so you'll either want to use a large spatula, bench scraper, or cake lifter to move them without tearing them. A cake leveler may also help you cut the layers more evenly than just a serrated knife.
Warm the violet jelly in the microwave for about 15 seconds, just enough to loosen it up a bit. Next, spoon your buttercream into either a piping bag with no tip added or a plastic storage bag with one corner cut off. Using a large spatula or a cake lifter, place a layer of cake onto your cake plate, then pipe a thin layer of icing on top (about 1/4 inch thick). Place another layer of cake on top, then pipe a simple 3/4 inch wide border just inside the edge of that layer. This will serve as a dam for your violet jelly so that it doesn't seep out the side of the cake. Using a small offset spatula, spread some jelly on top of the cake layer and up to the edge of the icing border. Then top with another layer of cake and repeat the above until all of your cake layers have been stacked together with alternating layers of icing and jelly.
On top of the last layer of cake, apply a thick dollop of icing. Using an offset spatula, spread it to cover the top of the cake, then push the excess icing down the sides. Smooth it with the spatula as you turn the cake plate around, covering any exposed cake layers. Once the cake is fully covered, smooth out the icing to create a flat surface or use your spatula to create a pattern in the icing. Until I have the chance to post a tutorial on icing a cake, YouTube can be a great resource. Top with pesticide free, edible micro flowers and enjoy!
- The cornstarch here is just to make a poor man's cake flour. Cornstarch blended into all-purpose flour helps inhibit gluten development, which leads to a more tender cake with a fine crumb. But this isn't necessary if you don't want to take this step. Just replace the cornstarch with more all-purpose flour.