Cakes are kind of my baking frenemy. We just don’t agree on so many things. They require precision, patience and perfection… three things that I struggle with in the kitchen. My rustic baking style doesn’t match up well with artfully crafted, fondant covered whimsey. I just can’t. I find more joy in the process of baking than fine tipped decorating details. If I bake a cake, it needs substance, not just a pretty face. I want an interesting flavor profile with texture and character. Hmm, this is beginning to sound more like a dating profile than a blog post about cakes…
SWF seeking full-bodied cake with a multi-layered personality and depth. Must be naturally sweet and honest, no fake additives or frosted facades. Looking for a long term connection to share many birthdays and celebrations with, not just a one night binge. Preferably a little spicy and nutty between the layers. A vibrant and fruity personality is a major plus. Must be open to having coffee and not afraid of being put on a pedestal.
Finding the “perfect” cake may very well be akin to finding the “perfect” mate. It can be a long and exhaustive search full of surprises and occasional disappointments. Baking a cake is a big commitment, and if you go in with unrealistic expectations you can end up investing a bunch of time into something that just turns out to be a hot mess. Before you go down the rabbit hole of cake baking, be prepared for things to get a little messy and unpredictable.
I’ve been a pie loyalist for as long as I can remember. Cake just doesn’t do it for me. However, This Berry Blitz Torte has me rethinking my current relationship status with pie. After spending some serious time getting to know the inner workings of this cake, I can surely say I have fallen head over heels for it. While we had our moments – I almost walked out few times while baking it – in the end I realized it was totally worth the work I put in.
This Berry Blitz Torte is the full package; layered with a solid base of rich yellow cake, topped with a light and fluffy meringue, filled with naturally sweet honey custard, sprinkled with rich toasted almonds and topped with bright juicy berries. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a partner… I mean, cake.
While this may not be the most conventionally pretty cake, I find it to be one of the most beautifully constructed cakes there is, both inside and out. Seriously, it was love at first bite with this sweet thing. If it was legal to marry a cake in the state of California, I’d get down on one knee right now. The variety of textures, flavors and ingredients has me weak in the knees. If true love had a flavor, it would taste just like this Berry Blirz Torte.
Sorry pies, I just couldn’t contain myself. I am sure I will come crawling back to you soon. But for now, I’m involved with a sweet summer fling called Berry Blitz Torte.
- whole milk - 3/4 cup
- egg yolks at room temperature - 2
- honey - 1/3 cup
- cornstarch - 1 1/2 tablespoons
- fine salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
- cake flour - 1 cup
- baking powder - 1 teaspoon
- cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
- fine salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- unsalted butter at room temperature - 1/2 cup
- egg yolks at room temperature - 4
- firmly packed brown sugar - 1/2 cup
- vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- whole milk - 3 tablespoons
- fine salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- egg whites at room temperature - 4
- granulated sugar - 3/4 cup
- almond extract - 3/4 teaspoon
- sliced almonds - 1/2 cup
- bourbon vanilla sugar or turbinado sugar - 2 teaspoons
- fresh, whole mixed berries, whatever types you prefer - 1 - 2 cups
- Heat the milk over low heat in a small saucepan until hot but not boiling. Meanwhile, thoroughly whisk the egg yolks, honey, and salt together in a small bowl. Then whisk in the cornstarch.
- To temper the eggs, slowly whisk one third of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the hot milk and gently cook over medium-low heat. Keep whisking steadily, until the mixture begins to thicken, it will take a few minutes but once it starts to thicken it will happen quickly. Once this happens, allow the mixture to bubble up for roughly 1 minute. You may need to stop whisking for a moment to check if it is bubbling.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Then whisk in the butter until it fully melts.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Can keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans by greasing them and lining them with parchment circles. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light, fluffy and smooth (about 5 minutes), scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
- Slowly add the egg yolks two at a time, blending well between additions.
- Combine the milk and the vanilla in a separate measuring cup. Turn the speed down to low, stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl by hand.
- Divide the thick batter between the prepared pans and spread it evenly out to the edges of the pans. The batter is incredibly thick and can be challenging to spread, it will just barely cover the bottom of each pan. Set the pans aside while you prepare the meringue topping.
- To make the topping, put the egg whites and salt into the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.Whip on low speed until the eggs begin to become frothy.
- Gradually increase the speed to medium-high, whipping until the whites form soft foamy peaks.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Raise the mixer speed again to medium-high and continue whipping until the whites just begin to hold firm, glossy peaks. Fold in the almond extract.
- Spread even amounts of the meringue on top of the cake batter and sprinkle with the sliced almonds and vanilla bourbon or turbinado sugar.
- Place the cakes in the middle of the oven and bake until the tops are lightly browned and the cakes have shrunk just slightly away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the cakes to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing them from the pans. The meringue topping will puff up (and might become uneven) while baking, don't worry things will settle down as the cake cools. And the peaks and valleys are what gives this cake personality.
- Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, onto a cake stand or plate. I used the more uneven layer as the base.
- Spread the honey custard directly onto the top of the base layer. Top with berries as desired. Use the berries to fill in the gaps and make an even surface for the top layer to rest on. (I didn't use strawberries in the middle as I didn't want to chop them up, which made for too uneven of a surface.)
- Carefully place the second layer on top, meringue side up. Top with beautiful berries, as desired.
- Serve promptly or refrigerate until ready to serve. This cake should last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days but, of course, looks and tastes best on the day it is prepared.
- Recipe adapted from Blitz Torte by Julie Richardson, Vintage Cakes. FYI, buy this book...it is beautiful and the recipes are amazing. Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth