My birthday is just shy of July 4th, but it has always been fun to combine birthday celebrations with 4th of July weekend getaways and BBQs. This year, still inspired by summer fruits, I made a blueberry buttermilk cake, with pastry cream custard filling and homemade raspberry-strawberry jam. The blueberry buttermilk cake is actually one that I haven’t made in a long time, but I happened to remember it when I was brainstorming and it turned out to be a great building block.
As for the decoration, I had been thinking about red, white and blue for the cake, but not necessarily a flag cake. But as I was playing with the berry milk crumbs and extra blueberries I had, I kept gravitating towards a stripe theme. To make red stripes on the side of the cake, I frosted with buttercream, chilled the cake in the freezer, and then wrapped acetate strips around the cake.
I pressed the berry milk crumbs against the exposed buttercream.
And then pulled away the acetate strips to reveal clean lines.
For the top, I piped buttercream with a star tip and placed blueberries in between. I wasn’t counting, but I believe I ended up with 47 blueberries. If I had known I was going to fit that many blueberries on the cake, I might have planned for 50 blueberries! Next time 🙂
Summer fruits offer so many baking possibilities! For Father’s Day, I made a favorite of mine, the fresh fruit tart, with a pâte sucrée crust baked with a thin layer of almond cream, and topped with custard (crème légère) and sliced fruit. A light brushing of apricot glaze seals the fruits and gives a great sheen to the tart.
But, another delicious one that I have made a couple times, thanks to plums from a colleague’s backyard, is a baked plum & almond tart. This one works with any type of crust (I used pâte sucrée since I had a big batch of dough), and is filled with almond cream and sliced plums arranged on top.
I brushed the plums with some melted butter and sprinkled with vanilla sugar, and then covered the exposed almond cream sections with sliced almonds. When baked together, the almond cream puffs up in line with the plums so that the slices look like they were pressed into the almond cream.
Depending on your oven, you can get your almonds lightly browned during the baking. Doesn’t happen in my home oven though unless I bake much longer than necessary. Still delicious in any case!
You may have noticed that our blog was pretty quiet at the start of 2016. That’s because we were working on a recent wedding — our own! I’m so excited to share some photos of the wedding cake, particularly the gumpaste flowers that were a labor of love over the first couple months of the year. (Photo credit above to the wonderful Tyler Branch Photo.)
With a color theme that spanned a gradient of dusty blues and greens, I made gumpaste succulents, silver brunia balls, dusty miller leaves, silver dollar eucalyptus leaves, and an assortment of white peonies, mums and filler flowers.
I had also made a dusty blue dahlia bundle for the surprise groom’s cake, but then forgot the flowers in the hotel room. Bummer.
Fortunately gumpaste flowers don’t die, so now we have a lovely gumpaste flower centerpiece arrangement to keep as a memento at home 🙂
The cake itself was a Napoleon, which is made of layers of homemade puff pastry with custard filling. After covering with buttercream and creating a tree bark pattern, I sprinkled the top with feuilletine flakes and dusted with powdered sugar. We only made the top tier as a cutting cake (the bottom tiers are dummies), and served our guests with Napoleon sheet cake from Porto’s Bakery which makes a delicious version.