Lemon and Berry Butter Layer Cake

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Eleven years ago, when I was little, me and my family moved suburbs. We changed primary schools to go to the local public school. I really didn’t want to go! I didn’t want to leave all my friends behind. I didn’t want to wear egg yellow shirts and crimson boy shorts, or have our school initials constantly changed to ANUS. But now I realise that move was the best we could have ever made, because it led me to my friend Maddie.

Our families became friends basically straight away, and almost all my childhood memories are interwoven with Maddie’s family. We moved to within a block of each other, bought a puppy in the same week, bought the same car, went to the same high school, went on holidays together and even went to university together. Maddie and her family don’t realise this, but I’m actually involved in an intense lifelong stalking project.

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For her birthday I made her a classic victoria sponge cake, but fruitified. The sponge is infused with lemon zest because she loves lemon. In between the layers is a strawberry and raspberry curd and sliced strawberries as well. And the whole thing is encased in whipped cream, sort of like a giant jam scone.

I know it’s not quite spring yet but it feels so close! Strawberries are super cheap at this time of year and it was actually warm enough not to wear jeans today! This cake has a feeling of spring about it. I think it’s the sugared violets that are actually three years old but I never deemed a cake worthy enough to use them.

The curd for me ended up turning out too thin, I think because I under-cooked it. Don’t worry I’ve adjusted the recipe, but lemme tell you there were some stressful moments trying to build this cake! I ended up thickening it with some icing sugar and ground chia seeds (so yes this is indeed a very healthy cake), and the flavour wasn’t affected. If you like a super sweet cake you might want to add some extra sugar to the curd anyway, depending on how tart your berries are. 

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In other news, the very kind Jessica from Daily Gluttony nominated Sugar and Cinnamon for the Versatile Bloggers Award! I was really excited because I think Jessica’s blog is great, and love reading her recipes and stories. I’m meant to tell everybody seven things about me but my posts are usually full of things about me so I’ll just tell you one little weird thing: I love peanut butter and banana slices on toast. 

I’m not really sure how to nominate my own favourite blogs, but here are some great new blogs that I have read this week, that I think are worthy of a mention: 

Sugary and ButterySinfully SpicyMunchin’ Mel, Tide and Thyme, Half Baked Harvest, Peeps From Abroad, The Baker Chick, Recipes From a Pantry, 350 Sweets, and Cesca

For a longer list of my long-time favourite blogs, check out my library page. Now for the recipe! Feel free to adjust the types of berries you use, and as I said judge the sweetness you think you’ll prefer. You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.  

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Lemon and Berry Butter Cake:
Berry Curd: Adapted from What She’s Having

700g (4 + 1/2 cups) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, but not blackberries, mulberries or anything too sour)

170g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar

60ml (4 tbsp) lemon juice

60g (4 tbsp) butter

6 large egg yolks

Cut up all the berries and toss with the lemon juice and sugar. Leave to macerate at least 45 minutes. Blend together and strain into a bowl. It might take some time! Use a spoon to push out the chunks. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs. Pour a ladle of the berry puree in to the eggs to warm them, then return it all to the pan. Add the chopped butter and stir constantly over a medium-low heat until thickened. Strain into a jug and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to stop a skin forming, refrigerate overnight. If the mixture curdles slightly, either strain out the lumps or blend for a few moments to bring it back together. 

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For the sponge: Adapted from Cook wWith Jamie

225 (1 cup) grams butter, softened

225g (1 2/3 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

225g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar

4 large eggs

zest of 1-2 lemons

Either: Make two sponges with this recipe and use a knife to cut them in half once cool, or split the recipe in half and make four sponges, washing your two 20cm pans in between. I find it easier to bake the layers separately but it’s up to you. 

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line 2 or 4 20cm sandwich pans. Cream your soft butter and sugar together until pale. Slowly add each egg, beating well in between additions until smooth and creamy. Sift over the flour and use a spatula to fold it in. Split the mix into two and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool, then take out of the pan.

IMG_6034For the icing and extras:
600ml (2 + 2/3 cups) whipping cream
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
250g (1.5 cups) strawberries

Beat the cream in a cold bowl on high until just starting to thicken. Decrease the speed to medium and slowly pour in the sugar. Beat until just thick enough for soft peaks to form.

Assembly:
Cut any domes off the four cake layers. Place one layer on a large plate. Spoon over a thick layer of curd and spread it to one or two centimetres from the edge. Top with sliced strawberries. Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the final layer. To ice, use a large offset spatula to gently spread the cream in waves around the cake. Decorate either with more berries, or sugared violets.
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Lavender and Lemon Tarts (gluten, dairy and sugar free)

Gluten, Sugar and Dairy Free

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Throughout my entire childhood, every time my stepdad came in contact with a tart he’d call it a fart. Every time we went to a Chinese restaurant, he’d order custard farts. When we went on a holiday to Paris, we ate raspberry white chocolate farts and mini cream farts. He once went through a faze of buying whole boxes of Portuguese farts. At Christmas time my family doesn’t eat fresh fruit tarts, no. We only eat fruit farts. 

I found this joke really funny, probably for about 3 years. Now when he cracks it he is greeted with stony glares from everybody at the table. Nowadays he saves it for special occasions and unsuspecting guests. 

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When I first wanted to make these tarts I thought I had a streak of genius when I dreamed up the combination of wattle lemon tartlets. Wooow. Doesn’t that sound im-press-ive. Flowers, tarts, people do crazy stuff like that all the time! Plus don’t people make some kind of bread out of wattle? So I picked me some wattle blossoms to taste them, and it turns out! They taste like kerosene. Boohoo. Wattle seeeeds. That’s where it’s at. 

So these have lavender instead! There’s only the tiniest amount. I took the tiny purple flowers out of one head of lavender and chopped them up really finely, then added about a teaspoon in the end. 

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The tarts turned out really yummy. Confession time, I don’t actually like pastry. It’s always too…flaky, dry, and hard. This pastry though, made out of coconut and almond flour, is more biscuity and way more flavoursome. It’s more sturdy than traditional pastry but it is still quite crumbly, so be careful when filling them. The gentle scent of lavender is subtle enough not to take away from the lemon or coconut flavours. 

These taste best the day you make them, after that they might go a little soggy. But the bases can be made the day before and they’ll stay crisp overnight. The pastry is adapted from this recipe, and the curd is from this one. Both sites are great! And full of other great recipes, so you should go over and have a look. 

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Lavender and Lemon Tarts:
Pastry: (Adapted from Against all Grain)

90g (3/4 cup) coconut flour

60g (1/2 cup) almond meal

1 tsp fresh lavender or dried, if unavailable

2 eggs

30g (2 tbsp) coconut butter, melted (or regular butter) + extra for tins

36g (2 tbsp) runny honey

Preheat oven to 170C (340F). In a blender, blend all the ingredients together until combined, pushing down occasionally from the sides. Grease 8-12 tart tins depending on how big they are with melted butter. Wait for the butter to harden before lining. Push pastry in with your fingertips to shape the moulds. Prick a few times with a fork, not all the way through. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and hard. 
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For the filling: (Adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet)

3 eggs

115g (1/3 cup) runny honey

zest of 1 large lemon

85g (3/4 stick) coconut butter or regular, cut into small chunks

110ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice

whisk the eggs with the honey and zest until light and frothy. Mix in the other ingredients. Stir constantly over a low heat until the curd thickens. Be careful as it will go from runny to curdled very fast! Strain into a jug and leave to cool. Fill tarts with a few spoonfuls of curd when ready to serve. 

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