Mixed Berry Earl Grey Cake

TasteTea Earl Grey Mixed Berries Cake

An entry for IMBB #17 by Renée

 

Adapted from the Peach Blueberry Cake in the August 2005 issue of Gourmet

 

Finally persuaded into participating in an online food blog event, I chose to meld a tasty (pun intended) looking cake on this month’s issue of Gourmet with an item I own way too many blends of. I felt this experiment fitting as I had some strawberries, blueberries and black raspberries from the local Farmer’s Market that I had to use up while fresh. So I also decided to forgo the peaches, or even apricots, and fill the cake with the berries instead. Apparently the “moderate temperature” used to bake this cake helps keep the ripe fruit from bursting and releasing its juices, and as I was planning to have a cake filled with only berries, I took this word of advice to heart and didn’t question the long baking time. What intrigued me most was that Gourmet noted that the pastry is moist and crumby, similar to both a biscuit and a cake. This I had to try! In keeping with the theme of IMBB#17, I chose to use the fantastic taste of Earl Grey tea (in this case Monk’s Blend Earl Grey), as I really enjoy its aroma in Earl Grey Shortbread Sandwich cookies that I make from time to time (which I love to fill with Brandied Apricot Preserves).

 

The pastry portion of the cake along tea choice was the highlight of the dessert, as the scent emanating from the cake was still apparent the next day, when relatively few slices remained. Surprisingly, the cake “crust” remained loosely short and dry despite moist the fruit filling. In addition, I have no idea how Gourmet was able to fit the pastry crust lining a whole 9-inch springform pan; I needed to use my 7-inch pan to have the crust reach the top of the pan’s lip. In retrospect, I should have pressed the pastry crust into a 9-inch springform pan and had the edges only go halfway up the pan to make the cake more of a flat fruit tart like presentation.

 

Clement also knows I’m not one for super sweet, goopy or greasy foods (he holds the butter and fat crown), * so I reduced the amounts used in my version of this cake. As I like the way whole strawberries look when you slice into them in classic Herme creations, I decided to keep my strawberries whole, and set them up as a foundation layer in the cake, where the smaller blueberries and raspberries would cook and cascade down their glorious sides. However, when the cake was cut, everything pretty much cooked into each other as a big purple crater ridden molten mess. To salvage the look of my cake, I scattered some toasted sliced almonds on top of the berry mound, and finished things off with a dusting of icing sugar (a “Renee Signature” if all else fails!), and voila, my own summery TasteTea masterpiece!

 

Serves 6-8 people

 

For the cake/pastry:

1 ½ C all-purpose flour (I used organic)

1/3 C sugar

2 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves, finely ground and sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ C cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

2 large egg whites (or 1 large egg)

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

For the filling:

1/3 C sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca

1 C blueberries

1 1/3 C strawberries, stems removed

½ C raspberries (I used black raspberries)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, optional

 

Topping:

¼ C sliced almonds, lightly toasted

icing sugar for dusting

Berries/mint sprig for decoration

 

Freshly whipped cream, optional

 

Pastry Instructions:

1) In a food processor (or in a big bowl, as in my case) sift together flour, sugar, tea powder, baking powder, and salt.

2) Add butter and pulse (or cut with a pastry blender) until mixture resembles course meal and contains some pea-sized butter lumps.

3) Add eggs and vanilla and pulse/mix until dough until it starts to clump together and form a ball.

4) Press the dough onto the bottom and up the entire side of the springform pan in an even ¼-inch thick layer.

5) Chill the pastry in the pan until it is firm, at least 10 minutes to overnight.

 

Filling Instructions:

6) Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

7) Gind together 2 tablespoons of sugar with the flour and tapioca until powdery, then transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining sugar, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, lemon juice and rind; toss to coat well.

8) Pick out the strawberries and stand them, top side (where the stew was removed) down on to the base of the pastry, covering entire base of pastry. Spoon remaining berries and filling over the strawberry base.

9) Loosely cover the cake with a sheet of foil and bake, until filling is bubbling in the center and the crust is golden, about 1 ¾ hours.

10) Transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and allow cake to cool uncovered for 20 minutes.

11) Toast almonds in an oven until slightly golden. Allow to cool. Then toss with some icing sugar; set aside.

12) Run a knife between the pan and the pastry and carefully remove the sides of the pan.

13) Allow cake to cool to room temperature, sprinkle on the toasted almond and icing sugar mixture, then dust cake top generously with icing sugar. Top with a few fresh berries or mint sprig. Cut cake into thick wedges with a sharp knife before serving. And serve with whipped cream.

 

* Let me quote verbatim a conversation we had recently in defence of my statement.

Clement says: basically I think everything should melt in your mouth.

Renka says: like fat FAT FAT FAT

Clement says: hahaha. if that's what melt in your mouth means to you. then I guess so.

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Taken on July 26, 2005
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