Lemon and Spiced Hibiscus Cake

“Perhaps very late, our dreams joined, at the top or at the bottom, up above like branches moved by a common wind, down below like red roots that touch.”  -Night on the Island, Pablo Neruda

Need a dreamy show-stopper for your upcoming Galentine’s Day celebration?

Last week’s burst of warm January weather triggered all sorts of ideas, and because my baking is in step with my thinking, I came up with this!

This blooming beauty is anchored by two layers of lemon cake with lemon curd sandwiched in between.  The real zing to this fling is the spiced hibiscus buttercream that I whipped up using a marvelous spiced hibiscus jam produced by Stagg Jam & Marmalade!  The borderline fruity/floral subtlety of hibiscus provides the alluring antidote that balances the tart bite of all that lemon. Don’t take this jam at face value; spicy notes of cinnamon, clove, and bay leaf are swimming just beneath the surface flavor.    I am super excited that I was given the opportunity to collaborate with a brand that generates such a nuanced specialty.

I used dry hibiscus petals found in a hibiscus tea to decorate the top of the cake.  I recommend the brand Teapigs (for the biggest petals!).

I’ve been hyper focused on the world of food this past year, and I’ve found that it’s easy to start feeling one dimensional toward your craft.  One of my goals for 2018 is to infuse more contemplative depth into my culinary creations.  A bite of this lemon hibiscus cake is like taking a bite out of a summery poem that melts on your tongue.  What books, music, or other types of art inform your baking?

Scroll down for the recipe!

Lemon Hibiscus Cake

For the Cake: (Originally seen on Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour one 6 inch round cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  4. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until just combined.
  5. Pour batter in pan; smooth the top. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, around 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.  When cool, torte the cake into two separate layers.

For the Buttercream:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Spiced Hibiscus jam from Stagg Jam & Marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter in an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar.
  3. Add hibiscus jam and vanilla to taste.
  4. One batch covers a 6 inch naked style cake.  Consider doubling the batch if you don’t want to see any cake peeking through on the sides.

 

White Russian Cake Truffles

Hey gang, how’s your new year going so far?

I’ve been focusing on a couple of new brand-collaboration projects that I’m super excited about.  One is with socially conscious Peanut Butter Americano, and another is with Brooklyn-based Stagg Jam & Marmalade.  It’s personal projects like these that glue together the days that I’m freelancing as an assistant food stylist.  I’m still not quite accustomed with the freelance lifestyle, even though I’ve been at it for almost a year.  I’m the kind of person that likes to know exactly what I’ll be doing next week at this time.  While a freelance lifestyle seemingly offers more control because you can turn jobs down, I’m still in the skills-absorption phase and I really don’t want to say no to any new experience.

As always, getting me through this learning process demands the occasional sugary pick-me-up.  Take a look at these White Russian cake truffles!

If you’ve ever been to a bar with me, you know that I always go for the sweetest drink on the menu. White Russians have been my favorite cocktail for as long as I can remember.

If a dessert could be a winter puffy jacket, it might look (and taste) something like this.

These cake truffles are SUPER easy to make and look classy as can be.  It’s never too late for New Year’s cheers, especially when they’re in cake truffle form.  These guys also make for a perfect Valentine’s Day offering for your sweetie…

Scroll down for the recipe!

White Russian Cake Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup and 1/3 cup Kahlua
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • two 12 oz containers of vanilla frosting
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. Bake the cake mix according to box instructions, but also add 1/4 cups Kahlua and 1/4 cups vodka.  Allow to cool.
  2. Crumble cake and mix with your hands.  Incorporated the frosting.
  3. Add another 1/3 cup Kahlua and mix well.
  4. Form into balls, about a half of a tablespoon each.  Place on a parchment lined tray and put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Pull truffles out and reshape them into balls.  They are easier to shape when they’re frozen.
  6. Warm up 1/2 cup of white chocolate until liquid form.  Dunk each truffle in the hot chocolate.  Allow to drip over the bowl, so that the truffles don’t form feet.
  7. Add sprinkles immediately before the chocolate cools.

You can also use this cake truffle technique with cakes that you’ve made from scratch.  It’s a great way to use up leftover cake from your other layered cake projects.

One of my favorite brands to order sprinkles from is Fancy Sprinkles.  They have some super cute Valentine’s Day mixes!  And they make vegan sprinkles too.