Today was my sister-in-law's birthday. When I told my daughters that we were going over for her birthday party, my three-year-old informed me that we needed to make a birthday cake. So we decided to make a light, seasonal birthday cake. My girls had a great time helping me to measure, stir, and taste-test.
Lavender has been one of my favourite ingredients this sugar (look for a separate blog post about lavender sugar). Blackberries are in season right now and delicious. I love how they seem to grow everywhere and you can just pick a few and eat them still warm from the sun. I decided to combine these two seasonal flavours and make a blackberry and lavender cake.
I made two thin round cakes in sandwich tins. The cake itself was lavender flavoured. For the basic cake recipe, click here. To make the cake extra fluffy, I used half plain flour and half self-raising flour. After making the dough, I folded in fresh blackberries (about a cup picked fresh from the garden).
When the cakes were baked and cooled, I spread a layer of blackberry and lavender compote in the middle and then sandwiched the cakes together. I had made the blackberry and lavender compote previously, but you could make it while the cakes are baking. I didn't follow an exact recipe because I was making it up as I went, but basically I cooked down blackberries with a little water. When the fruit was soft, I added some lavender sugar and a little caster sugar, as well as a few drops of vanilla. I'm not giving exact amounts because I didn't measure anything. Just taste it as you go. It should taste predominantly of fruit with a just a hint of floral sweetness. Cook until it is compote consistency--not as set as jam, but not too liquidy either. I like to have pieces of fruit still in mine, but you can mush it down if you want a smoother compote.
Then I made a frosting (a mixture of buttercream and cream cheese frosting with some red and blue food colouring added) and covered the cake.
Decorating this cake was really fun. As it was a blackberry cake, I decided to use blackberries in the decorating. I picked some berries--including some still on the branch with the leaves attached. I stuck the leaves into the cake, and then piled the extra berries around the base. As my sister-in-law often goes by 'Bea' and so likes anything with bees, I added a cute little bumblebee to it. To make him, I painted with yellow and black food colouring on edible wafer paper, and then cut out around him. Finally, I wrote 'Happy Birthday' on with green icing.
The cake turned out to be a big hit. She loved the bumblebee theme, and everybody enjoyed eating it. The end cake was light, fluffy, fruity, and completely seasonal.