‘Trees full of syringa (lilacs) and fields full of wild flowers is a sign of June’
June is such a pretty month, nature is lush and at full bloom no matter where you go. I wanted lots of bohemian wildflower bouquets for my party creating that enchanted garden feeling into the house. I love the way lilac lingers in the air during hot June days, it reminds me of Finnish summer at it’s best. The last month has been incredibly warm in Helsinki, reaching almost 30 degrees every other day and I can say my little balcony garden loves the warmth. All the flowers and herbs are growing at such rapid pace and I’m loving every minute of it. Every time I go to my balcony I start to dream of an actual garden and think to myself, is it time for a transition. I can almost hear those enchanted old gardens calling my name.
When June approaches, it’s time to think cake as my birthday is on the 8th. I usually make a semi-naked cake for my birthday simply because I love the way it looks and the way it tastes. It’s a statement cake for sure, full of garnishing opportunities and they are relatively easy to make and you can play around with the flavours. It was a real hit during my party and I even gave away the leftovers to friends the following day. This time around I added cardamom into the cake layer batter because I love the way it tastes together with rhubarb.
Since rhubarb is in season, my sister-in-law gave me some stems from their countryside & I wanted to make some jam from it and use it as a cake filling. Thus the cake is a rhubarb butter cream semi-naked cake with subtle flavours of cardamom in the layers. For this cake I made 2 layers that I sliced in half; so in the end I had three layers to add filling into. I made the cake the day before the party, and I love how overnight the texture of the cake merges becoming more dense and juicy, making it extra delicious on the day of the party.
Begin by making the jam for the cake:
- 4 large rhubarb stems, chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- about 1 cup water
In a saucepan, boil 1 cup of water. Add the chopped rhubarb into the water along with the sugar and cinnamon and let it boil for about half an hour. Stir occasionally and once the rhubarb is totally soft and mushy, the jam is ready. Let the jam cool and place into the fridge.
Cake Filling recipe:
Ingredients for cake base (x2)
- 3 eggs
- 1dl sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 dl + 1 1/2 tbs flour
- 1 tablespoons vanilla powder
- 1/2 tablespoons cardamom
* oil for lining the cake tine / milk when assembling the cake
Cake Base Directions (cake tin 16cm Ø )
Baking the cake layers:
In a bowl, add together the dry ingredients (minus sugar). In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy with the help of an electric whisk. Through a sieve, combine the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar mixture. Gently fold the batter together.
Pour some oil into the cake tin so the bottom and sides are coated, pour excess out. Pour batter into the cake tin and place into the bottom part of the oven for 40 minutes at 175 °C. Check the cake by inserting a tooth pick into the centre and if it comes out clear, it is fully cooked. Cool in cake tins on a heat rack (about 10 minutes); remove cakes from tins and cool completely on wire racks for about an hour.
Repeat this process again for 2 cake layers.
Freeze Cake layers:
Freeze cakes once cooled, as this process makes the assembling much easier. Wrap each cake layer individually in plastic wrap and freeze for 4-6 hours. This part is optional but it ensures that crumbs don’t break into the icing, so if you are short in time, freeze at least for an hour. If you freeze them overnight, give them a bit of time to defrost as they are hard to cut otherwise.
When you are ready to frost the cake, remove layers from freezer and unwrap. Level the layers with a serrated knife to make sure the surfaces are straight. I removed the top half of the cake layers as they were dome-shaped. Slice your layers in half so you get 4 layers in total.
Ingredients for Butter frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Butter Frosting Directions
With a handheld mixer, whisk the butter on high-speed until a pale colour and fluffy. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula twice while beating.
Turn mixer into low-speed and gradually add the sieved sugar. When combined scrape the bowl again. Slowly drizzle in the milk and vanilla. Scrape bowl again when combined.
Whisk on high-speed for about 10 minutes until the buttercream is extremely fluffy.
Assemble the cake
Use your “ugliest cake bottom” for the base of the naked-cake. Save the prettiest bottom for the top part. Place a bit of frosting on your cake plate and place the first layer on top. This keeps it from moving. Moisten each layer with a bit of milk.
Fill each layer with buttercream frosting and rhubarb jam. I made a rim around the edges with buttercream and placed the jam in the centre to keep it sealed. Repeat this process until the top and place the last layer “with the bottom half of the layer facing the surface” so it looks flat this way. Add buttercream frosting around the edges of the cake and scrape to almost bare with a sharp knife. Place into fridge (or freezer) to set the frosting before decorating.
When working with fresh flowers
Add the garnish closer to the party, especially if you are working with flowers that don’t hold their shape for long, like lilac. For this cake, add blueberries, cherries on top, the the flowers of thyme leaves. I also added dried rose buds and babys breath. If you plan to decorate with lots of fresh flowers like roses for example, it would be best if they do not come into contact with the cake. YouTube is very helpful for this, but basically just add toothpicks to your rosebud ends and wrap the stem with a bit of gardening tape. Press this into the cake. For delicate flowers like baby’s breath, they can just be loosely set in between other garnishes. Roses, some carnations, olive branches and baby’s breath hold their form very well! Figs and herbs are an elegant choice as well.