I am so excited to have finally made a cake from Tessa Huff's Layered. I've been seeing my favourite bloggers making Tessa's different cakes to celebrate the launch of her book and am happy that I finally got to taste one for myself. And it's divine!
I've been following Style Sweet CA for some time and spent a lot of time drooling over Tessa's fabulous bakes but when her new book came out I was in two minds about getting it. I've amassed quite a collection of baking books so I'm much pickier these days about buying even more. But having seen bloggers rave about her cakes and a snapshot of the beautiful photos within, I indulged!
So I arrived at the London Fog Cake. Chocolate cake is always a favourite in this house. And I was intrigued by Earl Grey Buttercream. Not completely convinced my boys would enjoy this as it's quite a unique flavour, I embarked on this bake as my first to try. As I was assembling it, the boys insisted on having a lick of the buttercream and declared it amazing. Both of them agreed -- and this is a rarity in our house!
The cake is simple to make with the more unusual ingredients (for a chocolate cake) being the almond extract and the grapeseed oil (luckily I had a bottle of grapeseed oil in the cupboard and you can buy this in health food stores). So it's simple to make but takes a little organisation before you start to get the different stages ready to go. First we sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set it aside. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Brew one cup of hot strong coffee. And measure your milk into a jug and let it stand at room temperature.
The recipe suggests using 8 inch cake tins but I used 7 inch tins for a little extra height. These should be greased and floured before you start. Then we mix the sugar and grapeseed oil in a standing mixer on medium speed for a couple of minutes. The consistency is sort of sandy but smooth, unlike that which you get when you mix butter and sugar together. We keep the mixer running and add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract -- then scrape down the sides.
We turn the mixer down low and add a third of the flour and half of the milk. Repeat and then finish with the remaining flour. It's important to keep the mixer low and mix until just combined so we don't over-toughen the batter. Scrape down the sides again to ensure that all the batter is mixed through. Finally, with the mixer on low, pour the coffee into the batter in a constant stream and mix very briefly, until just combined.
Divide the batter amongst the cake tins and bake for 25 minutes (mine took 35 minutes so do keep checking it to make sure it's baked just until the skewer comes out clean). When they're done, leave them in their tins for 10 mins and then release them and cool them on a cooling rack.
The Earl Grey Buttercream is Swiss Meringue Buttercream which is beautifully rich and smooth and less sweet than buttercream made with icing sugar. It's my favourite type but I do save it for special occasions :) We start by melting half of the butter in a saucepan with the loose Earl Grey tea and heat it until it melts, then simmering it for 5 minutes. Once it's removed from the heat, it should steep for another 5 minutes and then we strain it into a small bowl to remove the tea leaves. Some of the tea leaves will remain in there and this is okay. Then we refrigerate it for around 20-30 minutes until it becomes softened butter. Meanwhile we heat the egg whites and sugar in a bowl in the microwave until it reaches 70 degrees -- this takes around 2 minutes but should be done in 30 second bursts to ensure you don't overheat it. If you prefer, you can do this over a bain-marie on the stove (as the recipe suggests). Once it's the right temperature, pop it into a mixer and whisk on high speed for around 8-10 minutes so it cools down and forms medium-stiff peaks. Then we turn the mixer down low, change to the paddle beater and add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time. Plus the vanilla. Then mix until the buttercream is smooth (around 5 minutes).
Once the cake is cooled, it's time to build it! We put the bottom layer on a 7 inch cake board and top it with half a cup of buttercream. Then repeat and top with the final layer. And cover with the buttercream. I decided to make my cake a semi-naked cake and top it with buttercream swirls. Tessa's original recipe drizzles salted caramel on top which also sounds amazing!
What really impressed me about this cake was the chocolate cake itself. It's beautifully rich and squidgy inside and has a fantastic texture. The buttercream is kind of smokey but a very unique and pleasant flavour which compliments the cake very well. You do need to keep it refrigerated in the summer weather. I'm indulging in a piece as I write this (I have to keep taste testing it, right?!) and the buttercream is already very soft (like soft whipped cream) which is delicious but would struggle to stand up to outdoor garden parties unless whipped out of the fridge at the last minute.
This first cake was absolutely beautiful. The delicate flavours and a most delicious chocolate cake have been a huge hit in our house.
I can't wait to bake more!!
London Fog Cake
from Tessa Huff's Layered
- 315G PLAIN FLOUR
- 95G UNSWEETENED COCOA
- 2.5 TSP BAKING POWDER
- 3/4 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- 1 TSP SALT
- 150ML GRAPESEED OIL
- 400G CASTER SUGAR
- 2 LARGE EGGS
- 1 LARGE EGG YOLK
- 2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1/2 TSP ALMOND EXTRACT
- 360ML MILK
- 240ML STRONG BREWED COFFEE
Earl Grey Buttercream
- 450G UNSALTED BUTTER AT ROOM TEMP
- 12G LOOSE EARL GREY TEA
- 150ML EGG WHITES
- 250G CASTER SUGAR
- 1.5 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan)
- Grease and flour 3 x 7 inch baking tins
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and set aside
- Crack the eggs and egg yolk into a small bowl and set aside
- In a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, mix the sugar and grapeseed oil for 2 minutes
- With the mixer still on, add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts
- Once combined, scrape down the sides
- Turn the mixer down on to low speed and add 1/3 flour and 1/2 the milk
- Repeat and then finish with the final 1/3 of the flour
- Scrape down the bowl again
- Finally, turn the mixer on low and pour in the coffee in a steady stream
- Mix for 30 seconds until just combined -- you will have a very wet batter
- Divide the batter amongst the cake tins
- Bake for around 25 - 35 mins until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Once baked, leave the cakes in their tin for 10 minutes and then release and put them on a cooling rack
- Place 225g of the butter in a small saucepan with the Earl Grey tea
- Melt the butter and then let it simmer for 5 minutes
- Remove it from the heat and leave it for a further 5 minutes
- Strain the butter to remove the tea -- some tea leaves may remain which is okay
- Refrigerate for around 30 minutes until it's the consistency of soft butter
- Place the egg whites and sugar in a small bowl and microwave on 30 second bursts until it's 70 degrees celcius
- Put it in a mixer and mix on high speed for around 8-10 minutes until it's cooled down and medium-soft peaks have formed
- Turn the mixer down onto low and add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time
- Once all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back up to medium speed and mix for around 5 minutes until soft, smooth and thickened
- Once the cakes are cool, place the bottom layer on a 7 inch cake board (or plate if you don't have a board)
- Pop half a cup of buttercream on top and smooth it out, repeat and then top with the last cake
- Cover with the buttercream and scrape the sides smooth
- Place the remaining buttercream in a piping bag with your chosen nozzle and create swirls on top of the cake
- Refrigerate for 20 minutes before eating -- or keep refrigerated until you're ready to partake :)