Thursday, 15 September 2011
As I'm currently finding a new home in London and moving, I asked two of my favourite bloggers to write me a guest post. This is the first - the lovely Steph from Sydney...
Hello! I'm Steph from raspberri cupcakes and when Emma asked me if I could write a guest post for her I jumped at the chance. I've been a huge fan of her gorgeous blog and wonderful recipes for a long time now, and we share a deep love of scones. There was no way I could say no!
So I thought I would share these lovely Mixed Berry & Vanilla Bean Cakes covered in Lemon Cream Cheese Icing. It just so happened that when Emma asked me I was in the process of brainstorming birthday baking ideas for my fiance's Mum. It's always an interesting challenge because of all the things she is unable to eat or drink; chocolate, orange, banana, nuts & alcohol. Eep. What does that leave me with? Plenty!
Spring is just upon us in Australia, so I wanted to make something that screamed springtime with lots of berries and a tinge of citrus. One of the most delicious cakes I have ever made was a Strawberry Cake from Martha Stewart covered in Pink Champagne buttercream, so I thought I might adapt that recipe with lots of different berries and a different icing. This cake is insanely delicious. The smells that filled my kitchen while this was baking were so inviting and mouth-watering that I very nearly gave up on the idea of the icing because I knew the cake was going to taste so good already.
I decided to use a mixture of vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract in the cake batter because I sometimes find the flavour from vanilla beans quite mild and I didn't want the vanilla to be drowned out by the berries and lemon cream cheese flavours. The combination of the two worked fantastically, you get the beautiful dots of vanilla bean as well as a noticeable vanilla flavour.
To be completely honest, the cake really does taste great on its own and you could skip the icing, but I decided to go ahead with sandwiching and covering the cakes with a generous amount of icing, because I was stuck on the idea of presenting them as you see them. The icing of the cakes took quite a long time, and I eventually gave up trying to get them super smooth and went for the more 'rustic' look, but I am pretty happy with their overall look. The icing is so smooth and fluffy, with just the lightest hint of sour lemon. You could add the lemon zest to the icing to give it a stronger hit of citrus, but I decided not to as I wanted the icing to be velvety and smooth.
I ended up with 6 medium-sized cakes, far too large to serve to a single person and with a tad too much icing for each cake because of the way they were decorated. I think if I was to make it again I might consider making them as cupcakes with a blob of the cream cheese icing on top, so feel free to adapt the recipe to do that. Or just make the cake on its own, with whatever berries you can get your hands on, its a great afternoon tea treat.
Thanks so much to Emma for inviting me to share this with you, I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Mixed Berry Cakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
(makes 6 medium cakes or 12 mini cakes, adapted from this recipe from raspberri cupcakes)
For the cake:
85g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (about 230g) plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (about 220g) plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste + 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (if you one of these is unavailable you can just use a full tsp of either)
450g (1 pound) mixed berries, I used frozen raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and hulled and halved strawberries
For the icing:
250g cream cheese, softened
250g unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp of lemon, or adjust to taste (you can also add the zest of one lemon if you wish)
6 cups (about 750g) icing sugar, sifted
Optional: Fresh berries to decorate
Grease and line with baking paper a 24x32cm rectangular cake tin, or two 20cm square cake tins and preheat oven to 180C (350F). Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (regular beaters will also do). Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.
Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Pour mixture into prepared tin and smooth top with a spatula. Arrange berries on top of batter, (cut sides down for the strawberries) and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries. Bake until cakes are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 45-50 mins. Let cool in tin on a wire rack, then carefully turn out. Chill cake while preparing the icing. Can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in clingfilm for a day or so before icing.
Prepare the cream cheese icing; place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until smooth and fluffy. Add lemon and icing sugar, one cup and a time, and beat until smooth. You may need to adjust the amount of icing sugar to obtain the right consistency, it should be spreadable but not runny. Slice cake into 12 equal portions for medium cakes or 24 equal portions for mini cakes. Spread icing over the top of half the cake pieces and sandwich with the other half of the cake pieces (the berry-covered side facing inwards). At this point you can just spread a bit more extra icing on the top of each cake. However if you want to cover them entirely as shown in the photos, crumb coat each individual cake with icing. It helps to place each finished one to chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the others. Thinly cover each cake with more cream cheese icing using a spatula and chill until set. I iced each cake on square of baking paper to make it easy to transfer the cake around. Top with fresh berries and serve.