Tessa Huff’s Sweet Tea Cake from Layered

My birthday feels like it was so long ago now and yet I’ve still not posted about my birthday cake – shame on me! I’ve mentioned before about my love for Tessa Huff and her cake baking prowess, and I really ummed and ahhed about what I wanted this year for my birthday. Last year my family made me her awesome Cherry Chocolate Chip cake which has been my favorite birthday cake of all time, but I knew I’d be baking this year so kind of wanted it to be different from the one they made me. I narrowed it down to two cakes – the Arnold Palmer cake by Momofuku that I’d found online or the Sweet Tea Cake in Tessa Huff’s book Layered. I ended up deciding on the Tessa Huff cake because the Momofuku one had some ingredients I’d never heard of before, let alone purchased. (I will be looking to source them at some stage though, because I’m determined to make that cake one day.)

There were things that I loved about this cake and things that just didn’t work. I decided to use my giant cupcake pan that had been sitting in my cupboard for at least a year and that was an epic fail. I cooked the two portions separately because the top is so much smaller than the bottom and I didn’t want the top to be overcooked or the bottom to be undercooked. For some reason though, the cakes were concave! I still have no explanation for how this occurred, but I had to spackle it quite a bit with buttercream, hence no internal shots because it’s just one big blob of frosting. Oh well, live and learn, I guess. The cake itself was pretty good, not the best lemon cake I’ve had, but not the worst either.

The candied lemons were amazing. They reminded me of sherbet lemons. Delicious.  The vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream was spectacular as usual. Nothing to report there.

But then…the tea component…it was a disaster. It became a hard toffee rather than a tea syrup and there was no way to rescue it. I was so disappointed. So instead of turning a portion of the buttercream into sweet tea cream, I simply brushed the layers of the cake with some strong black tea that I had brewed. But because of the competing flavors in the cake and in the buttercream, it just got lost.

I’m glad I tried this cake and my giant cupcake pan. It was certainly fun and challenging learning how to decorate this cake. June is coming soon and that’s a big month for us cake wise because it’s my baby boy’s 3rd birthday and Aaron’s birthday not long after. He’s pretty predictable with birthday cake choice so that’ll be easy, the fun is going to be finding a cake that makes my 3 year old’s eyes light up. I have some ideas and can’t wait to try them!