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.

 

Pineapple Rightside-Up Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down cake is so last summer… make my Pineapple Rightside-Up Cake instead!  If you’re in need of a summer-y dessert recipe just in time for Father’s Day, look no further.

This ombré style cake contains three layers of thick pineapple cake, two layers of caramelized pineapple, and a light vanilla buttercream frosting.  The cake is tangy with a satisfying chewiness; I wanted to mimic the toothsome decadence of biting into a Taiwanese pineapple cake.

To accompany my shoot, I found an African mini pineapple at my local supermarket.  I couldn’t separate it from its cake mother… don’t they look cute together?

Scroll down for the recipe!

Pineapple Rightside-Up Cake

For the cake (from She Wears Many Hats):

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/4 cup crushed pineapple with juice (canned)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, whites and yolks separated

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 5 inch cake pans.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks.  Beat until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla extract to pineapple mixture.
  5. Alternate adding the sifted ingredients and the pineapple to the butter/sugar mixture until fully incorporated.  Beat until smooth.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cups of sugar, and beat until fully combined.
  7. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.
  8. Divide cake batter between the two pans.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool before cutting or frosting.

For the caramelized pineapple:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canned pineapple
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir mixture until it begins to brown.  Take off heat immediately.

For the buttercream frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • yellow food coloring

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar.  Gradually incorporate into butter mixture.
  3. Add vanilla extract.  Separate frosting into three bowls.
  4. Add 3 drops of yellow food coloring to one bowl.  Add one drop to another bowl.

To Assemble: Torte the two pineapple cakes into four equal rounds.  Use three of these rounds to build the cake.  Spread a thin layer of caramelized pineapple between each layer.  Frost with buttercream.  Apply dark yellow buttercream to the bottom of the cake, light yellow to the middle of the cake, and white to the top of the cake.  Achieve a smooth finish by using a bench scraper tool to blend the colors.