Resist Conformity + Earl Grey Cake with Lavender - Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Style is the essence of individualism. I wish I had learned this sooner than I did. When I was younger, there was a time frame when I conformed to the rest of the crowd. I wanted to be seen doing what everybody else was doing. Foolishly, I assumed that this would lead to acceptance as I feared being treated differently. It didn't take long to determine the people I was trying to mimic were not real friends. The vapid, monotonous conversations we shared; their trivial interests. Nothing they did stimulated me in any way. These pseudo-friendships were quickly abandoned.
Truth: I am different. Not because I color my hair pink; or sometimes, I wear a tutu to the grocery store; nor that glitter is my favorite accessory; that I like to mix patterns and I never follow trends. Not to make a statement. Because, I just am.
When I conceived the idea of Confection Witch, it was borne out of want for having it all. A design studio that bases its ingredients on local produce, has seasonal flavor menus, isn’t a ‘one fits most’ model, but rather offers traditional gluten-based confections along with dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free options, and possesses a sense of whimsical style, customized based on personality. I wasn’t able to find this at just one bakery and the thought, the anxiety, of entering a bakery to be shown a portfolio of cakes that were created for other clients and the Pantone color of the year brochure: Barf. I just wanted something different, something I can offer to others that doesn’t feed into conformity.
I once awoke to a Washington DC almost entirely cloaked in white. The neighborhood buildings I’ve always known, those familiar dirty facades worn by time, were softened by drifts of snow. The memory I have taken with me was a single violet colored crocus poking up through the snow. Glimmering hope of warmth on a risk taken alone. I want every client to think about what makes them feel special; to think of a story that makes them happy; these are the inspirations that define inner style. What makes for an individual? Only you know. Tell me. This is how I will design your cake.
Earl Grey Cake + Lavender – Vanilla Bean Buttercream
When winter calls for richly colored palettes: burgundy, dark green, navy, gold and copper, break boundaries with a wedding palette in shades of lavender. An unexpected flower blooms out of textured snow drifts. A refreshing approach to go beyond the traditional and utilize beauty with an unapologetic twist. Resist conformity. Just be.
Makes a three-layer, 6" round cake or a two-layer, 8" round cake
Earl Grey | Milk
360 ml whole milk
1 Tbsp, heaping, of Earl Grey tea, loose leaf
Earl Grey | Cake
280 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Earl Grey tea, loose leaf, finely ground
3/4 tsp kosher salt
170 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300 g granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
240 mL Earl Grey milk, at room temperature
Lavender | Vanilla Bean | Buttercream
240 ml egg whites
400 g granulated sugar
675 g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
1 tsp lavender extract
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp lavender flower buds (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C).
Spray three 6" round cake pans or two 8” round cake pans with non-stick spray (containing flour). Line the pans with parchment.
Earl Grey Milk | Preparation
Add the milk and tea into a small pot over medium heat. Heat until a thermometer reads 160F (71 C). Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and steep for 10mins.
Strain and measure out 240 mL of the Earl Grey milk. Top up with whole milk, if needed.
Earl Grey Cake | Preparation
Sift the flour, baking powder, tea, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter and sugar on med-high until pale yellow and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
On low speed add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture one at a time, allowing each egg to fully incorporate before each addition. Add the vanilla paste.
Add the flour mixture and the Earl Grey milk in 5 alternating additions, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Allow each addition to fully incorporate before each new addition.
Portion the batter evenly between the cake pans.
Lavender - Vanilla Bean Buttercream | Preparation
Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk by hand until combined.
Place the bowl over a double boiler on the stove at medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 F (71 C). Wipe off any condensate that has formed on the outside of the bowl with a towel.
Place the bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the egg white/sugar mixture on high speed (approximately 10 minutes), until it holds medium-stiff peaks.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the butter, a few cubes at a time. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla bean paste and lavender extract. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is smooth and silky, approximately 5 minutes more.
Stir in the lavender flower buds, if using, into the buttercream.
Baking | Final Assembly
Bake at 325 F (165C) until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place the cakes on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to fully cool to room temperature.
Once the cakes have cooled to room temperature, place one layer of cake on a cake board. Put the cake board on a cake turntable. Reserve the other layers on a piece of parchment paper while you work on the cake.
Spread an even layer of lavender-vanilla bean buttercream. Top with a second cake round. Repeat the process for the third layer if making a 3-layer, 6” cake. Refrigerate until hardened, approximately 30 minutes.
Spread a crumb coat on the cake with the lavender-vanilla bean buttercream. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Mask the cake completely with the buttercream. Using the back of a spoon, make indentations into buttercream for a textured appearance. Refrigerate until hard, approximately 30 minutes.
Garnish with wafer paper flowers or culinary grade (not sprayed with pesticides) fresh flowers.
Serving | Storage
Serve the cake at room temperature.
The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving, for best results.
Cake recipe by The Confection Witch and Icing Troll | Photography by The Confection Witch