Tangled up in Blue, High Rise Cake

Wednesday, July 30

blueberry basil cake with blueberry thyme mascarpone German buttercream | une gamine dans la cuisine
tangled up in blue, High Rise cake | une gamine dans la cuisine


An innocent, dulcet confection; this cake is not a New Orleans-bound wayfarer, nor is it distraught enough to weave its way into a visceral novel. It is, however, a chaos of blueberries and, compared to my previous (cockeyed) layer cakes, quite lofty. My blog turned five last April, but she's reticent and surreptitious and insisted on waiting for a berry-steeped muse before marking the sylvan anniversary. This summer I have been living on berries, literally. My laurel green colander is almost always overflowing with bleeding, edible shades of blue, red, and purple.

Admittedly, I was slightly hesitant to proclaim une gamine had been spilling out recipes since 2009. After five years I feel as though I should offer lush paragraphs of things I've learned or unearth a poem or two; but lately I can't seem to say exactly what I mean. Maybe it's the warm lethargy of summer that makes my words tumble out upside-down. Speaking is easy, when it comes to writing...it's as if my mind is split in half and my fluent self hides behind the safety of metaphors and a tapestry of embroidered words. Hemingway would scoff, I'm certain. But I would offer him cake and gin and, ideally, he would advise me on how to stop thinking about how much I think about ovethinking. Yes, lots and lots of gin & cake, and, after re-reading Ann Rice's The Witching Hour, a much needed visit to the Garden District. Unlike my folksy cake, I'm a vagabond at heart; it's been far too long since I've traveled far.


blueberry basil cake with blueberry thyme mascarpone German buttercream | une gamine dans la cuisine


I always tiptoe around layer cakes - they tend to break apart, sink, cling to the pan, or blatantly refuse to rise in the oven. I'm elated to say this recipe was an effervescent success! The cake is soft, tender and just exquisitely Perfect. Blueberries arrive in two incarnations; fresh + loose leaf blueberry tea steeped in cream. To give the cake an ethereal herbal vibe, I rubbed fresh, bruised basil into the sugar. My kitchen smelled like morning dew and juicy-berried summerlings. {Note: if you plan on making this recipe, your cake pans should be at least 2-inches high; it actually lives up to its name.}

The German buttercream is mythological. It's galaxies above & beyond average buttercream and, thankfully, a lot less buttery than Swiss. (Thank you, Stella!) German buttercream has a silky, melt-in-your-mouth, texture but it's not "greasy." You actually taste the flavour instead of just butter and sugar. I used the cake's blueberry tea-infused cream mixture and tossed in a few thyme sprigs. *love* Mascarpone cheese takes the frosting to an almost savage depth; it's fierce. The frosting is flexible & forgivable. If you don't want to use mascarpone, feel free to go the all-butter route + blueberry infused tea can be replaced with just about anything (I added a small amount of blueberry preserves at the very end, just to give a kiss of colour).

A quick note on the buttercream; if you refrigerate the frosting before spreading, make sure you bring it to room temperature before re-whipping. Mine curdled. I panicked. Let it warm up and keep whipping, it will flower again.

blueberry basil cake with blueberry thyme mascarpone German buttercream | une gamine dans la cuisine
blueberry basil cake with blueberry thyme mascarpone German buttercream | une gamine dans la cuisine


To my readers, new and loyal, Thank You!! It's been a delicious five years and I truly appreciate everyone who stops by my tiny space in this vast universe. xo


blueberry basil cake with blueberry thyme mascarpone German buttercream | une gamine dans la cuisine


Tangled Up In Blue High Rise Cake
(aka; blueberry basil cake with blueberry & thyme mascarpone German buttercream)
makes a three layer 8-inch cake

for the cake
570g (3 cups) fresh blueberries  {Note: I didn't weigh the berries, I used 3 heaping cups}
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
181g (3/4 cup) half & half cream + about 60g (1/4 cup) extra
2 heaping Tablespoons loose leaf blueberry tea
385g (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
402g (2 cups) granulated sugar
about 2 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped and bruised
227g (1 cup, or two sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large, room temperature eggs
120g (1/2 cup) room temp. buttermilk

for the german buttercream
8 oz (1 cup) skim milk
8 oz (1 cup) half & half cream
3 heaping Tablespoons loose leaf blueberry tea
2-4 sprigs of thyme
280g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
1.5 oz cornstarch (sorry, could not find a conversion for this one.)
2 large eggs
2 yolks
16 oz (four sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp. + cut into 1-inch cubes
16  oz mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt

method
Prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans. {note: pans should be at least 2-inches deep.} Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment and dust with flour.

Toss blueberries with 3 Tablespoons of flour; set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan, combine cream and loose leaf tea. Bring to just a simmer, remove from heat and cover. Let tea steep for about 5 minutes. Strain cream into a bowl, squeezing out as much as possible (you should be left with 118g of cream). Set strained cream aside to cool. Discard tea leaves. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the room temp. cream/tea mixture & buttermilk; set aside. {note: make sure the cream has cooled completely before mixing with buttermilk.}

In a large bowl, combine about 1 cup of the sugar with crushed basil. Use your finger to rub the basil into sugar until aromatic; whisk in remaining cup of sugar and set aside. In stand mixer bowl, fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter on medium speed until light & fluffy; about 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating for about 3 more minutes. Scrape down the edges of the bowl, add eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Once all eggs have been incorporated, beat batter on med-high speed until light and voluminous (about 4-5 minutes).

Switch over to a large rubber spatula. Fold in flour & buttermilk/cream mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with flour. Add blueberries and gently fold into batter till evenly dispersed.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until center is set and a thin knife comes out with a *slight* amount of crumb. {note: rotate pans half-way through baking time.}

Remove pans from oven and place onto cooling rack. Cool cakes for about 20 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting. {note: cakes can be made three day ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.}

Prepare the frosting:
In a medium size saucepan, combine the milk, cream loose leaf tea and thyme. Bring to just a simmer, cover, and steep for about five minutes. Strain into a bowl, squeezing out as much cream as possible (don't worry about having an exact measurement). Discard tea leaves and thyme sprigs.

In a large heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and yolks; set aside.

In a large saucepan, return the cream mixture to a slow simmer. Whisking constantly, slowly stream a small amount (about 1/2 cup) into the egg mixture. Stream in about another 1/2 cup, whisking constantly - this will temper the eggs so they won't scramble. Pour the warm, tempered, egg mixture into hot cream. Whisking constantly, simmer until thick and sluggishly bubbly; then cook for about 1 minute more - just to make certain the cornstarch is completely cooked out.

Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl. {note: if your eggs scrambled up a bit, no worries. Use a strainer to catch any mishaps.}  Using the whisk attachment, set the mixer to low-medium speed until the bowl is room temperature and mixture is completely cool to the touch. This can take up to 20 minutes. Do not rush the process; mixture must be cool before continuing. If you have extra time, cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to proceed - the stand mixer method is much faster.

When pastry cream is completely cool, begin adding the room temp. butter cubes; about 1 Tablespoon at a time, with the mixer set on med-high. Once the butter has been added, repeat process with mascarpone cheese, adding about 1 Tablespoon at a time. {note: the mixture may appear to curdle halfway through adding butter, don't fret, keep mixing + adding...it will smooth out eventually.}

Once all the butter and cheese has been incorporated, add the salt and whip until thoroughly combined. {note: at this point I added about 1/4 cup of blueberry preserves for colour.} You may use the frosting immediately or cover the bowl and refrigerate until needed. If you refrigerate the frosting, bring it to room temperature, then re-whip in stand mixer (using whisk attachment). If frosting is too cold, it will curdle - make sure it's completely reached room temp. before whipping.

Don't be shy when frosting the cake layers; this recipe makes a lot of buttercream! You will more than likely have leftover frosting - which is fabulous on cookies, waffles, and toast! Please note: the frosting is temperature sensitive. If your house is humid, keep the cake in fridge until ready to serve.

German buttercream  inspired by BraveTart

blueberry basil cake with blueberry thyme mascarpone German buttercream | une gamine dans la cuisine

47 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous cake! And happy 5 years of blogging. :)

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  2. Yay Valerie!!! Happy happy five years to you and your gorgeous blog! And what a perfect cake to ring in the anniversary with! It is an absolute masterpiece. Those rich dots of blueberries are so vibrant, and the way that you've described German buttercream -- are you sure your fluent self is hiding?! This makes me want to eat nothing but German buttercream for the rest of my days. I love it. (P.S. I also love your new layout!! Though sorry if I'm way late in noticing!)

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    1. I could easily inhale German buttercream for the rest of my days! :D The layout is new - I'm glad you like it; changing a theme feels like getting a new haircut...I'm never sure how people are going to react.

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  3. Cheers to 5 years, and what a stunning cake to celebrate with! I'm in love with those swirls of buttercream, and blueberries with basil sounds positively ethereal. A show stopper, indeed!

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  4. I absolutely love the line "a chaos of blueberries" - so beautifully written! And let's be honest, the cake itself is absolutely STUNNING!

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  5. Beautiful and extremely tempting! Those flavors are simply fantastic.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. 5 years! This is a nice number. I have problems with expressing myself lately as well. But I thing that it's an influence of pregnancy. Or at least I hope, as I want it to pass asap. Your cake looks amazing, perfect for a 5 year celebration :)

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    1. Thanks, Marta! Glad I'm not the only one who comes down with blogger's block. (At least you have a valid excuse!) :D

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  7. But I adore your embroidered tapestry of words. Your writing is scrumptious, richer than German buttercream, more layered than this cake. I revel in it and keep coming back for another helping.

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    1. Thank you, Lucia! Your compliments are always lush and sweet. :)

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  8. Congratulations on a huge milestone, your blog has always been an inspiration and a joy to visit! The cake is gorgeous, of course :)

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  9. congratulations!!! and absolutely love the new look of your blog.

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    1. Thanks, Dixya. I'm so excited by the fact that I can upload larger pics!! :D

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  10. Lovely! As always. Blueberries, thyme, mascarpone... genius.

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  11. Happy 5 years of Blogging, Valerie! My gosh, I don't think I've ever tried German butte cream frosting which means I need to soon. I also love the pairings here and you always write beautifully.

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    1. Thanks, Nik! A lot of my inspiration arrives via fellow food bloggers. :)

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  12. Happy 5 years! And what a lovely way to celebrate. This cake is gorgeous.

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  13. Happy Blogaversary! You always make such mouth watering treats! This cake is no exception! Happy Weekend!

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  14. Congrats on five years of blogging! This cake looks superb; the perfect way to celebrate this lovely space you've created.

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    1. Thank you, Sini! (Thanks for dropping by too!) xo

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  15. Congratulations on your blog-versary!

    I've never heard of German Buttercream. Thanks for sharing. And this cake? It looks seriously INCREDIBLE! Yum!

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    1. Thank you, Joyti! German buttercream took me by surprise too but it's honestly my favorite frosting (so far, at least). :D

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  16. Congrats on 5 years! This cake is stunning, it's clear how much care and detailed preparation went into it. Just beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Mary! It's deliciously wonderful to know the intricacies are appreciated (and noticed!). xo :)

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  17. I think this cake is the perfect way to celebrate your blogging milestone. Congratulations!

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  18. Congratulations on your fifth anniversary! You were my number one inspiration, and I'll never forget it. Your blog just keeps getting better and better. (I could live on berries too.)

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I think you were one of my first readers (after my mom). :D

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  19. I'm reading Anne Rice too at the moment! Interview with the Vampire for my Gothic Lit class :) Lovely photos as usual. - Ariane

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  20. Also, Congratulations! I think I've been reading your blog since back in 2010 :) The first baking blog I started following that inspired me to start my own. - Ariane

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    1. Ariane, thank you for sticking with me through the years & theme changes! :D
      (When you're finished reading Ann's vampire series, please try the witching hour...you will want to move to New Orleans too!)

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  21. Wow- 5 years. I wonder how long that is in blogger years? I've been at it longer than I like to think about, though just on a few on the latest iteration. We are getting so many blueberries from the bushes on my husband's family farm - this recipe would fit in well in my kitchen right now - thanks!

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    1. In Blogger years, methinks five is equal to 17??? At least it feels that long, sometimes. :D
      How lucky to have easy access to fresh blueberries! So many possibilities...

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  22. Your cake looks scrumptious; I look forward to trying it soon. I am wondering if it would be okay to substitute edible lavendar buds for the blueberry tea in both the cake batter and buttercream recipes?

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    1. Absolutely! Be gentle with the amount of lavender, sometimes too much can give food a 'soapy' taste.
      Please let me know how it turns out! :-)

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  23. First of all, a very belated Happy Blog Anniversary!

    Secondly, I can't believe you were disappointed in these pictures. I LOVE them. You have captured the mood I have a hard time capturing in my own pictures. Responding to your comment about the egg shells in another post, I think there were a nice touch. :)

    Thirdly, I want some of this cake.

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  24. Hi Valerie, this cake looks absolutely gorgeous and the recipe sounds perfect. I am thinking of making this into cupcakes, do you think the cake is too light or too dense for that? If so, what should I adjust?

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    1. Hi, Kristen! I *think* the recipe is cupcake friendly. The berries might fall to the bottom since cupcake tin molds are compact...I don't know if dusting the blueberries with flour will help. Also, unless you need an epic amount of cupcakes, I would divide the recipe (in half?) since it's made for three 8-inch layers.

      If you decide to tackle this, I'd love to hear how they turn out!! :-)

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  25. Thanks for the tip! I hadn't thought of that. I had thought of dividing the recipe in half, these measurements might result in an unhealthy amount of cupcakes. I'm making them Sunday, and I'll be sure to tag you if I post a pic of them to ig. Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe!

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Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie

 

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