Floral Three Tier Cake – GBBO Showstopper Challenge (Week 6)

img_4841Week 6! Botanicals Week?

The first ‘botanicals’ week on GBBO saw the bakers making things with floral flavours and just ‘anything that GROWS’, as star baker Tom bluntly put it.

The episode started with a citrus meringue pie signature bake, followed by a fougasse (basically a French focaccia), and finally ended with the bakers making a 3 tier botanical cake to the following criteria:

  • 3 tiers
  • must contain flowers in/on
  • 4 hours

A BLOOMIN’ THREE TIER CAKE! *unamused face emoji*

From the moment I saw the episode preview, and realised what I had to make next, I was already dreading how much effort this was going to involve. I even considered cheating and just posting a picture of the 3 tier wedding cake I made for my best friend Sonia last year and saying ‘DID IT!’ instead!

img_5114
I mean, it did have sugar flowers so teeeechnically ‘botanical’!

Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOVE baking and will happily bake a MASSIVE cake if asked/needed, but to spend all that time and money just because I’d set myself some silly little personal challenge? Hurr.

However, that all changed when I started planning.

img_9931In true Ang style, I got out my ProMarkers and started drawing possible ideas. This is when the challenge suddenly changed from simply baking a massive cake, to constructing an arty masterpiece… and then I got excited about it.

img_4863I knew I wanted to have 3 different flavours of cake, and to somehow include said flavours to the decoration too. (Because Mary Berry always says she likes it when a cake is decorated to reflect the flavours inside! And because I’m a little suck up.) I knew I wanted to include lemon peel ‘roses’, so decided on a Lemon & Rosemary cake for the bottom layer. I then figured since I’m making roses I should probably use that too, so for the middle layer I decided on a Rose, Cardamom and Pistachio cake. Then I thought I’d challenge myself with a floral flavour that’s notoriously difficult to balance (and one I’m not usually the biggest fan of)… lavender. So, for my final top layer I decided I’d make an Earl Grey & Lavender cake. Because tea.

Speaking of which, I’d probably make a brew if I were you, this is going to be a long one…

img_4735For all 3 cakes I started by creaming together the softened butter and the caster sugar until pale and fluffy.

img_4740img_4753I then added each egg, one by one, beating it into the mixture before adding the next.

This is then when I changed things up for each cake…

img_4741For the Lemon & Rosemary cake, I sifted in the plain flour and baking powder, as well as adding the finely chopped rosemary and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. I folded this all into the mixture.

img_4742img_4746img_4749I tipped the cake batter into a 10″ round cake tin lined with baking paper and levelled the top with a spoon. I baked this at 180°C for 1hr 15mins until the top was a golden brown, and a cake tester came out clean from the centre.

img_4780Whilst the cake was baking I made a lemon & rosemary syrup to pour over the cake. I first cut the peel off of 2 lemons using a peeler, making sure to get one continuous spiral (this was to make the citrus peel roses for decoration, but you could just zest it instead). I then added the peel, sugar, the juice of the 2 lemons, and two sprigs of rosemary to a small saucepan. I placed this on a medium heat and left to bubble until the sugar had dissolved. I then removed this from the heat and left to cool on the side as the cake continued to bake.

img_4786img_4784Once baked, I immediately poked holes all over the cake with my cake tester.

img_4788I then removed the lemon peel and rosemary from the syrup and poured all over the cake, allowing it to sink into the holes so the cake would drink it all up! I left the cake in the tin to cool completely.

img_4760For the Rose, Cardamom & Pistachio cake, (once I’d beaten in the eggs as before) I added the the plain flour, baking powder, bicarb, freshly ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground pistachios, and the rosewater. I then folded this all together.

img_4762img_4763I spooned this cake batter into an 8″ round cake tin lined with baking paper and levelled the top. I then baked this at 180°C for 1hr until golden brown and a cake tester came out clean from the centre. I then left this to cool completely.

img_4768For the Earl Grey & Lavender cake, I first emptied the contents of 1 tea bag into a pestle and mortar, along with a pinch of dried lavender, then ground this to a fine powder.

img_4772I then sifted the plain flour, baking powder and ground tea/lavender into the cake batter and folded this through.

img_4765I also infused some milk by pouring it into a small saucepan, along with 2 tea bags and 1 tbsp of dried lavender. I brought this to the boil, then removed from the heat, but allowed the tea to steep as it cooled.

img_4775Once cooled, I strained the milk and added to the cake batter. You could absolutely do this before making the cake batter so it can cool in the meantime… but that was obviously far too efficient for me.

img_4777I then spooned this cake batter into a 6″ round tin lined with baking paper and levelled the top. This baked at 180°C for a total of 50 mins until golden brown. I left this to cool completely.

img_4800I decided to use a Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost the cake because it has a much lighter texture than regular buttercream which makes it a dream to spread over a cake. Also, it’s not as sickly sweet! To do this I added egg whites to a heatproof bowl, along with double the weight of sugar. (I use the boxed carton egg whites when making Swiss buttercream because I usually make a large quantity, and then that way I’m not wasting like 20 egg yolks!)

img_4804I placed the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl wasn’t touching the water!) and whisked till the sugar dissolved. Heating the egg whites this way also ensures it’s safe to eat. (You can check the sugar has dissolved by rubbing the mixture between two fingers to feel for sugar crystals. Also, make sure to catch any sugar granules from around the top of the bowl!)

img_4806Once dissolved, I transferred the the egg whites to a stand mixer and whisked for a good 8-10 minutes until a stiff, glossy meringue had formed.

img_4810I then switched to the paddle attachment. Continually mixing, I added a small piece of softened butter to the mixture, making sure it was completely incorporated before adding the next. It will look like a silky liquid-y mess for aaaages, but I swear as soon as you add that last piece of softened butter it miraculously turns into a smooth buttercream! It’s magic!

img_4812I then added some vanilla bean paste (or you could use extract, never essence!) and folded that in on a low speed for a minute or so. (That’s just to help knock out the air for a smooth buttercream.

I then filled, crumb-coated, let chill for 30 minutes, then frosted each cake before stacking the tiers. I could go into detail on this, but I think I’ll save that for a future post! 😉

img_4815Though! For the lemon & rosemary cake, I did make sure to pipe a single line of buttercream around the bottom cake layer so I could fill it with lemon curd before placing the second cake on top.

img_4795For the citrus peel roses I simply rolled up the strips of softened, candied peel and set aside. (I also candied some orange peel when making a rose & cardamom syrup for the rose cake, but decided it didn’t need it!)

img_4834img_4820For the buttercream roses I took a couple spoonfuls of the buttercream and dyed it pink with food colouring, before spooning into a piping bag fitted with a petal piping tip. I then piped 5 roses of different sizes onto pieces of baking paper and froze for a couple minutes just so they were set enough to pick up to place on the cake.

img_4835I also rolled a few blackberries in some edible gold dust to almost look like little pine cones. (There’s weren’t any blackberries in the cake, but I like them so they happened.)

img_4850

Overall…

How long did it take? I started at 11:15 and was out of the kitchen by 5pm… so 5 hours 45 minutes. Though, the fact that I totally underestimated how much buttercream I would need and ended up having to make another batch, and the fact that I couldn’t put my cakes in a freezer to speed up cooling/chilling of frosting probably factored into that. Also, given my extra hour for photos/washing up, I don’t think 5hrs 45 was toooo bad.

What worked? I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty chuffed with how this one turned out! *big wide grin emoji* Especially the flavours! I’m not usually a fan of floral stuff, but the Earl Grey & Lavender cake was surprisingly my fave?! I guess it helps that’s it’s basically tea IN a cake.

What didn’t work? Not necessarily ‘didn’t work’, but I feel like store bought lemon curd would probably be a cheat on GBBO… unless it could be one of those things that you’ve already made and brought in with you? If not, then meh I’d just leave it out.

Things to improve if I were to take this recipe to the tent? Maybe to save even more time (just for safety) I’d use only 2 different flavours of cake… but I wouldn’t know which I’d leave out?! I liked them all!! I’d probably also opt for the ‘all in one’ method when making the cake mixtures, as much as it would pain me to do!

*****

Floral Three Tier Cake – GBBO Showstopper Challenge (Week 6)
Author: Acorns & Custard
Ingredients
  • For the Lemon & Rosemary Cake:
  • 450g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 450g plain flour
  • 2tbsp baking powder
  • 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • jar of lemon curd
  • For the Lemon Drizzle:
  • juice and peel of two lemons
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • For the Rose, Cardamom & Pistachio Cake:
  • 340g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1½tbsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g ground pistachios
  • 1tsp ground cardamom (about 6-7 green cardamom pods)
  • ½tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp rosewater
  • For the Earl Grey & Lavender Cake:
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1tbsp dried lavender, and a pinch extra
  • 50ml milk
  • For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (x3):
  • 170g egg whites
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 450g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
Instructions
For the Lemon & Rosemary Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
  3. Crack in the eggs one at a time, beating each in well before adding the next.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, finely chopped rosemary, lemon zest and juice.
  5. Fold together until fully incorporated.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a 10” round cake tin lined with baking paper and level the top with a spoon. Bake for 1hr – 1hr15mins until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed, or when a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Whilst the cake is in the oven, make the lemon drizzle by heating the sugar, lemon peel and juice, and rosemary sprigs in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside and allow the rosemary to steep as it cools.
  8. Once the cake is baked, poke holes all over the cake with a skewer. Remove the lemon peel and sprigs of rosemary from the drizzle before pouring the syrup all over the cake to allow it to soak up. Leave in the cake tin to cool completely.
For the Rose, Cardamom & Pistachio Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
  3. Crack in the eggs one at a time, beating each in well before adding the next.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarb, ground pistachios, cardamom, cinnamon and rosewater.
  5. Fold together until fully incorporated.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a 8” round cake tin lined with baking paper and level the top with a spoon. Bake for 50mins – 1hr until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed, or when a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the cake tin to cool.
For the Earl Grey, Orange & Lavender Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Pour the milk, 2 tea bags and 1tbsp of dried lavender into a small saucepan. Bring this to the boil then remove from the heat and allow to steep whilst you make the cake.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
  4. Crack in the eggs one at a time, beating each in well before adding the next.
  5. Empty the contents of the remaining two tea bags into a pestle and mortar along with a pinch of dried lavender. Grind to a fine powder.
  6. Add the flour, baking powder, and ground tea to the cake mixture and fold in.
  7. Strain the infused milk and stir into the cake batter.
  8. Spoon the mixture into a 6” round cake tin lined with baking paper and level the top with a spoon. Bake for 45-50mins until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed, or when a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the cake tin to cool.
For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  1. Add the egg whites and sugar to a large heatproof bowl, and place on top of a pan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk over the heat until the sugar dissolves. (You can test this by rubbing it between two fingers to feel for sugar crystals.) Remove from the heat.
  3. Whisk on a high speed for about 8 minutes until the mixture has cooled and you get a stiff, glossy meringue.
  4. Switch to a paddle attachment (if using a stand mixer), and whilst mixing, add a small amount of the softened butter to the meringue.
  5. Continue to add small amounts of butter until finished and fully incorporated.
  6. Finally add the vanilla bean paste (or extract if you prefer!) and mix through on a low speed to help get rid of air bubbles.
For Cake Construction:
  1. To construct each cake, level the top with a serrated knife, then slice in half.
  2. Place one half of the cake onto a cake board of the same size.
  3. Spread or pipe a thin, even layer of the buttercream on top of the cake, before placing the second half on top. (When assembling the lemon & rosemary cake, cut it in half and pipe a circle of buttercream around the edge of the bottom cake, then spread a layer of lemon curd in the middle before placing the second cake on top.)
  4. Roughly frost the entire cake to seal in all the crumbs (‘the crumb coat’), then place in the fridge to chill and firm up for approx. 30 minutes.
  5. Once firm, frost the entire cake again with a slightly thicker layer of buttercream. Leave in the fridge to set up for a further 30 minutes before decorating as you wish.
Notes
Decoration Ideas: [br]- blackberries dusted in edible gold dust[br]- lemon/orange peel rolled up to look like roses[br]- dried rose petals[br]- fresh rosemary/organic lavender[br]- buttercream flowers (piped and frozen beforehand)

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