Tut tut, it looks like rain. We’ve officially entered our first fall season in our new home of Portland, OR; a place notorious for it’s rainy weather. So far, we’ve made it through October with only a few wet days, and a surprising amount of sunny, crisp weather, creating a beautiful landscape of fall foliage that would give the Vermont tourism industry a run for its money. The frosting on the cake (pun totally intended) as we enjoy this beautiful fall weather is the second wedding anniversary my hubby and I celebrated a few weeks ago. We spent the week leading up to our wedding date adventuring around our new city and having mini dates in between my study sessions for midterms. On the actual anniversary, the rains came, and we made our way to a tea room a few blocks from our house, to enjoy a tea flight and stare lovingly into each other’s eyes. That’s where the inspiration for this cake was born, using the Steven Smith Lord Bergamot tea blend, I went on the hunt for a special dessert that would impress the socks off my husband, while also embracing this crisp, snuggly time of year and one of our favorite warm beverages. Enter: the London Fog Cake.
London Fog Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream and Salted-Caramel Drizzle
I was inspired to bake this gorgeous convection by Laura at A Beautiful Plate, who adapted the recipe from the Layered cookbook by Tessa Huff. I have substituted a few ingredients from the original recipe for personal nutritional preferences. This cake is a true indulgence and you’ll do well to invite some friends to join in the celebration, whatever that may be.
- butter or nonstick cooking spray, for the pans
- parchment paper, cut to fit bottom of cake pans
- 2 1/2 c. organic sprouted spelt flour
- 1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. avocado oil
- 2 cups granulated coconut sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 1/2 c. whole milk, room temperature
- 1 c. hot, strong-brewed black tea
*Be sure that your baking soda and baking powder are fresh. Cooks Illustrated suggests tossing baking powder that’s been open for 6+ months, as it may lose its ability to produce carbon dioxide, the key to getting a nice rise out of your cakes. With a layered cake like this one, you don’t want your cake to fall short and be too dense. Leavening agents help to create or expand air bubbles in your baked goods once they hit the oven. The gases released make small air pockets that produce lighter baked goods and serve to neutralize any acidic ingredients you may have in your recipe, which in our case is primarily cocoa powder.
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 3/4 c. granulated coconut sugar
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 c. heavy cream, room temperature
- 2 tsp. diced unsalted butter
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Earl Grey Buttercream:
- 2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 c. loose Earl Grey tea
- 4 egg whites
- 1 1/4 c. granulated coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (325 F for a convection oven). Grease (3) 8-inch cake pans, place parchment paper in bottom and set aside.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, beat together the oil and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on, add the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract.
- Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk. With the mixer on low, stream in the hot tea. Mix on medium-low for 30 seconds until combined.
- Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let pans cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes. Allow to cool completely. *The cakes can be made ahead of time and stored in fridge, individually wrapped, for about 3 days.
Prepare the Salted Caramel:
- Place the sugar, maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small or saucepan. Whisk to combine.
- Heat over high heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until mixture turns a dark bronze color, 8 to 10 minutes. The sugar mixture will begin to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in color, almost looking burnt. Remove the saucepan from the heat once the bubbles start to subside.
- Slowly whisk in the room temperature heavy cream. Be careful as this mixture is very hot.
- Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the caramel into a heat-safe container and let it cool until it reaches the desired consistency or refrigerate it until ready to use. It will thicken as it cools.
*The caramel should be room temperature for cake assembly, but any leftover caramel can be stored in an air-tight glass jar in the refrigerator for up t0 10 days.
Earl Grey Buttercream:
- Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 more minutes. Strain the butter through a fine-meshed sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate until it reaches the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it is hot to the touch, but avoid scrambling the eggs by overheating. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
- With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea infused butter, and remaining 1 cup butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
Assemble the Cake:
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, level them and choose which layer will be the bottom (tip: pick the sturdiest layer).
- Place it on a cake plate and spread on 1/2 cup of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat, ending with the third layer (tip: pick a level, attractive layer for the top). Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream and refrigerate it until set, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Pour the caramel onto the top of the cake, letting it drip over the edges, beginning on the top and drizzling slowly until desired look is achieved.