Earl grey cake take 2. As befits a practice cake for a lesbian wedding, I covered it with rainbow sprinkles and brought it to Sierra's pride party. The cute little dino was her addition, of course, Nori and Jack's rainbow sangria was also great!
I'm really happy with the creme fraiche buttercream on this one. It's a variation on Italian buttercream, although next time I'd use a less fussy Swiss buttercream base. The creme fraiche lightens the flavor and softens the stiffness of the buttercream, while leaving it with plenty of structural integrity and sculptability.
The cake is perfectly fine, but not better than my favorite chocolate cake. And again, the Earl Grey is barely noticeable. I think I'll up my game and try bergamot oil for the next attempt.
4 earl grey tea bags steeped in 1 c hot water
1.75 c flour
2 c sugar
3/4 c cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/3 c greek yogurt
2/3 c milk
1/2 c canola
1 T vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350F and make the tea. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (yogurt through vanilla). Pour the wet ingredients and the coffee into the dry ingredients, and gently whisk until just combined. Pour into greased+parchmented pans; the recipe should do 2 8"x2" round pans, but I used 2 8"x1.5" round pans + 4 cupcakes (that's about 2.5 c batter per pan). Bake cupcakes for 18 min and layers for 30 min, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a rack for half an hour, then turn out and cool completely.
frosting (almost 1 quart):
3/4 c + 3 T sugar
1/4 c water
4 egg whites
1.5 sticks unsalted butter
8 T (1/2 c) creme fraiche
4 dashes Angostura
Place 3/4 sugar and the water in a small saucepan, and place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer. Turn the heat on medium-low under the saucepan, and turn the mixer on high.
Now here's the slightly nerve-wracking part. Watch the mixer first: when you first begin to see tracks in the white foam, sprinkle in the 3 T sugar. Take a look at the sugar syrup and give it a stir. Back to the meringue: when it's stiff, turn the mixer off. Back to the syrup: when it reaches 240F, turn it off. Turn the mixer on to low, and slowly drizzle the syrup down the side of the bowl. Keep the mixer running until the meringue cools down to 80F (this will take a while).
Turn the mixer up to medium-high, and add the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Keep mixing and have patience it will come together; this seemed to take longer than Swiss buttercream did. When the frosting looks like frosting, keep mixing and add the creme fraiche a tablespoon at a time, then add the bitters. The additions made the frosting a bit less stiff for me, but didn't break it. Keep in the fridge until half an hour or so before assembly.
Frost and top with rainbow sprinkles!