Ugly Cakes: Earl G Cake with Buttercream and White Chocolate Ganache

Okay, to be honest, I follow recipes only mostly.  I always get halfway through baking something when I either realize I forgot an ingredient or I think I have a better idea.  On Sunday, I was cheerfully baking up an Earl Grey cake when I realized I didn’t have several key ingredients for the icing and was missing one cake ingredient.  Hence, this ugly cake with some buttercream and a white chocolate ganache was born.

Look, in my head this thing was going to be beautiful.  It was going to look and taste as sweet as can be.  Unfortunately, some things went wrong during its conception… and this is just not a cute cake.  It tastes 100, but it looks maybe… 35.  There’s something refreshing about an ugly cake, though – it means so well and it just wants you to be happy.  I love it, and frankly I think that you, too, should make  this ugly cake.

The cake is pretty straight forward.  Collect the following ingredients:

  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  3. 4 bags Earl Grey tea
  4. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  5. 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (optional)
  7. ½ teaspoon salt
  8. 1 cup unsalted butter
  9. 2 cups white sugar
  10. 4 large eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 350 f, then do as follows:

  1. Heat up the milk to a simmer and then add the teabags – I just used a pan and then poured it into a mug over the teabags.  Cover and let steep.
  2. In your second favourite mixing bowl, combine the flour, the salt, the finely ground tea leaves, and the baking powder.  All the tea leaves do is add a pleasant speckliness to your cake – so leave ’em out if you don’t have loose tea kicking around.
  3. In your favourite mixing bowl, combine the softened (but not melty) butter with the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating as you go.
  4. Back to your steeping tea-y milk.  Squeeze all the liquid out of the teabags and huck ’em in the compost.  Measure the milk again – if it’s no longer a cup, top it up with fresh milk.
  5. Add the milk and the flour to your butter/sugar mixture in three dumps, alternating a splash of milk with a big scoop of the dry stuff.
  6. Beat until just combined and pour into two (buttered and floured) round pans.
  7. Bake at 350 for forty minutes, rotating the pans half-way through.

Icing and Ganache:

Okay, my critical error was realizing I don’t have enough icing sugar for a whole batch of buttercream.  Instead, I made a little batch and tinted it grey-purple with two drops of blue and one drop of red.  Set aside until your cake is completely cool, you impatient goof.

The white chocolate ganache was a last minute improvisation – Dani had bought herself white chocolate chips to eat as a snack and I swooped in when I realized my icing-sugar error and snatched them out of her hot little hands.  Beyond the fact that chocolate chips are frankly not an appropriate snack, they’re much better when mixed with 3/4 cup of hot whipping cream (not whipped, obviously – just the cream) and melted into a creamy ganache.

I used my purple-grey icing between cake layers and across the top of the cake.  I then poured the ganache over the top and let it drip down the sides of the cake.  Maybe this is where the critical error of uncuteness really comes in hot – dishwater grey glaze + insufficient icing + no cake stand… really, the horrors I suffer through.

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