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.

 

Daruma Cake

Have you seen a Japanese daruma doll before?  I’m obsessed with them, and guilty of having quite a few nestled here and there in my apartment.  When you first become the proud owner of a daruma, you fill in one of its eyes and set a goal for yourself.  When the goal or wish is fulfilled, you fill in the second eye.  You’ll be motivated to make  that wish come true, if only so that the little guy can see again!

This is a three layer tahini cake with tart citrus curd.  Tahini, made from toasted ground sesame seeds, has a mild, nutty taste which is a dream pairing with the tangy mingling of lemon and grapefruit flavors.  Add a cloak of tahini cream cheese frosting, and this cake makes wishes come true.  As someone who likes their cake not on the supersweet side of the spectrum, this was the ideal treat for me.  To create the daruma design, I used strawberries, chocolate shortbread cookies, and edible copper glitter.

This cake is ideal for serving at any occasion… it signifies the mouthwatering beginning of a new wish or goal.  It’s perfect for the new year, a wedding, or really any new phase of life that you want to celebrate.  What better time for an uplifting baking project than the beginning of 2018?

Scroll down for the recipe!

Daruma Cake

For the Tahini Cake (I used Molly Yeh’s tahini sheet cake recipe, but divided it between two round 6 inch cake pans)

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c flavorless oil, like canola
  • 1 c tahini
  • 1 1/2 tb vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 6 inch cake pans with parchment and nonstick cooking oil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, buttermilk, oil, tahini, vanilla extract, and water.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well-combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking the cake after 30 minutes.
  4. Let cakes cool.  Torte both cakes into two separate discs.  Use to make a three or four layer cake.

Fort the Lemon Grapefruit Curd

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/4 cup grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Instructions:

  1. Combine the grapefruit and lemon juices in a saucepan. Simmer until reduced by about half, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a different container, add the grapefruit zest and let the juice cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. In the same saucepan, whisk together sugar, egg yolks, and whole egg. Add the citrus juice and whisk again to combine.
  3. Place the pan over a double boiler and cook, whisking frequently until the mixture thickens and a few large bubbles break the surface.
  4. Immediately remove from heat, add butter, and stir until melted.
  5. Strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours.
  6. When assembling the cake, use a piping bag to distribute between layers.

For the Tahini Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 c unsalted butter
  • 1 c cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tb vanilla
  • 1/4 cup tahini

Instructions:

  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until combined.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar, salt, tahini, and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.