On Saturday, while everyone else watched two grown men beat the crap out of each other in the Mayweather fight, I hit “submit” on my vet school applications (ahhh!) It was a pretty big moment.
Admissions essays are 50% hard as sh*t, 50% fun. I like the thoughts they prompt but I hate the pressure of answering. One of the questions asked me to describe my ideal fifteen minutes of fame. That question was pretty fun. I talked about being a guest baker on Barefoot Contessa, and I dreamed up an Earl Grey cake with honey buttercream frosting, topped with pistachios and fresh cut figs. I was salivating as I wrote about it, and I knew I’d eventually have to make it just to see what it was like, ya know? So to celebrate being finished (for now) with applications I baked it. And you. guys. oh. my. God.
I also made and photographed this cake the same day that I started the second semester of organic chemistry (yikes) so I like to think it served as a double milestone marker in a way. Maybe it celebrates the end of one phase and the beginning of another? Do we really even need cake to celebrate something? Can’t we just eat cake?
Also by the way: I’m an avid coffee drinker and that will never change but I’ve been having a little side action affair with tea lately. A lil’ chamomile before bed, some matcha mid-day, so even though this recipe only asks for about 5 tea bags I wasn’t mad about purchasing a whole box of Earl Grey Black Tea.
Anyway back to the freakin’ cake!
It was/is (we’re still eating it) delicious. Buttercream sucks to make and frost with in my opinion but this cake is so pretty it almost looks better if the frosting job is a lil’ rustic (read: sloppy) so who cares? And the sweet figs + salty pistachios on top was a flavor combo I can’t get enough of now. I’m putting that pairing on a wheel of baked brie and maybe some morning toast next.
DAMN, y’all. Just look at that. Okay now go make it!
Earl Grey Cake
What You’ll Need: > 1 cup whole milk // 5 Earl Grey tea bags w/ bergamot oil // 1 tsp vanilla extract // 3 cups all purpose flour // 2.5 tsp baking powder // 1/2 tsp salt // 4 eggs // 2 cups sugar // 1 cup butter // figs, pistachios, & honey to top (optional)
What You’ll Do: First I like to pull everything out of the fridge/cabinets and set it all up. I do this mostly because it’s easier to reach for everything, but also because the eggs and butter need to be at room temperature and I almost always forget to pull those out of the fridge in time. Best to just do it all at once.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a small saucepan combine the milk and the vanilla extract. Cook on medium heat, mixing often, until it starts to simmer. Once simmering remove the saucepan from the heat, add 4 of the 5 teabags, and cover for 20 minutes to steep. After 20 minutes, remove the tea bags and squeeze as much liquid out of them into the milk as possible. Bring mixture to room temperature. (Over the course of these 30-ish minutes your eggs and butter are coming to room temp! Yay multi-tasking!)
Meanwhile combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and the contents of the 5th tea bag in a large bowl.
In another bowl using a stand mixer, cream the room temperature butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Save the butter foil! Add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides. Now alternate adding the dry flour mixture and the milk, maybe three rounds of each. Mix until batter is well incorporated.
Now here’s a trick my mama taught me: Take your cake pan and trace a perfect circle on some wax paper. Cut out the circle. Using the butter foil wrapping, grease the sides and bottom of pan. Then put the wax paper on the bottom of the pan. Now take the foil wrapping again and grease the wax paper. Pour half of the batter on top of wax paper, pop into the oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean! Repeat with other half of batter*.
Pop cakes out of pan(s) and set on cooling rack for at least an hour. Buttercream will melt all over the damn place if you try to frost a warm cake. It’s gross and not cute.
*If you have two cake pans it will be so much easier on you. I only have one so I have to make one layer and then clean the pan and then make another. A true labor of love.
Honey Buttercream Frosting
What You’ll Need: 3 cups powdered sugar // 1/3rd cup honey // 2 cups unsalted butter // 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
What You’ll Do: Listen to this because it’s pretty hard to follow: Add all ingredients to stand mixer bowl. Mix for 8 minutes on medium-high. Put in fridge until ready to frost.
Now frost the cake, cut your figs into fours, lay them however you damn well please, drizzle some honey on top of the cake and down the sides, and sprinkle some toasted pistachios. Boom. You’re ready.
Okay, now I really have to start studying for my quiz tomorrow. Organic reactions won’t just learn themselves, ya know. Love you all, thanks for reading!