When you have a raspberry farm you seek out raspberry recipes. This one is a gem. The thyme and orange flavours add a lovely sharp counterpoint to the rich brown sugar buttermilk cake with raspberry filling. The only downside, it only uses a scant half cup of berries!
Orange thyme syrup
- 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice…use blood oranges if you can find them
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
Combine the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the thyme. Simmer for 8 or 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep until cool. Strain the syrup and discard the thyme. You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate if you are organized.
Brown sugar buttermilk cake
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup room temp. unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 3 large farm-fresh organic eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and set aside.
In the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and orange zest. Turn the mixer to medium-high and mix until the butter is light and fluffy (5 minutes or so). Stop mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix on medium for 30 seconds.
Evenly divide the batter in the three prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on wire racks for 15 minutes before removing from pans.
Raspberry Buttercream (Makes a bit over three cups…you will need 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature cubed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of fresh raspberries from your local farmer
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Make the buttercream
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Make a double boiler by filling a medium pot filled with water over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the pot. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.
Whisk intermittently and heat the egg mixture to 160F (candy thermometer) or until it is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer and whip with the wire attachment on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. The bowl should be back to room temperature at this point. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
With the mixer on low, add the cubed butter, a few tablespoons at a time then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Make the raspberry puree
Blend the raspberries and 2 teaspoons of sugar together in a food processor until combined. Strain to remove seeds through a mesh sieve set up over a bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of this pureed mixture to 2 cups of the buttercream (you will have extra buttercream) until combined.
Some assembly required
Once the cakes have cooled, level them and choose which one will be at the bottom. Generously brush the cake layers with the orange thyme syrup. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate and spread on 3/4 cup of the raspberry buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the buttercream, ending with the third layer. Use the remaining buttercream to fill in any gaps between layers and give the cake a rustic coat of icing.
Make the orange glaze
- 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice (blood orange juice works well here if you can find it as gives the icing a nice colour)
In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice together until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the glaze onto the centre of the top of the cake and spread it evenly letting it drip over the edges.
Top with a thyme crown.