Today marks The Sweet Life's third birthday; it is her coming of age, and what sweeter way to celebrate than with a slice of cake?
With this birthday comes a few changes around here, including the long-awaited introduction of recipes. I've toyed with the idea of adding them in the past, but I didn't want to become that kind of food blog. But alas, I love creating new treats and sharing my techniques with others. So really it was only a matter of time.
Once a month, I'll share a little slice of something sweet (or, gasp, maybe even something savory).
The only kicker? It will always be something in sliceable form. Yes, this comes in part from the fun I have with my own name. But it also has a bit of deeper meaning. To eat a slice of something means you are taking a piece from a larger whole. To write only recipes of sliceable dishes means that everything I share with you will encourage further sharing with others.
There is something deeply important in recognizing that all members of a community derive their sustenance from the same source; that even the very selfish act of eating is also intrinsically communal.
So now I'm sure you're asking why tahini, honey, and cardamom for this introductory piece?
Since today is a celebration of the ways I've come into my own voice through the writing of this blog, this recipe is a culmination of my culinary education during those same years. The masters of pastry who taught me all I know instilled in me a deep love for the flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is thanks to them that I push boundaries in my use of sweeteners, nuts, and spice. It seemed fitting then to weave into this first cake my favorite flavors of the Middle East.
tahini honey cake with cardamom goat cheese frosting
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup almond milk (any dairy or nut milk will work fine, but I like the subtle something added by almond)
5 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1. preheat the oven to 325°F. in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer on high speed, cream the butter and sugar until well aerated; this should take about 10 minutes. it will significantly increase in volume, don't skimp on this step!
2. add the eggs two at a time on medium speed. let the eggs emulsify into the butter completely before adding more. the last 3-4 yolks won't emulsify entirely -- this is okay.
3. mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. in a separate bowl, mix the honey, tahini, and almond milk.
4. on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. slowly add half of the wet, then another third of the dry, the second half of the wet, and the last third of the dry. stop the mixer just when it begins to pull together. finish folding together with a spatula; you don't want to over mix or else you'll end up with a gummy cake!
5. transfer the batter to two 8-inch cake rings or pans, sprayed generously with pan spray.*
6. bake at 325°F for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. take the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely before moving onto the frosting!
8. once cool, cream together the goat cheese, honey, and ground cardamom until light and spreadable.
9. trim the tops of the cooled cakes so that they are flat. spread half of the frosting on top of one layer. flip the other layer so that the top becomes the bottom and stack on the first layer. this helps to ensure that the top is ultra smooth.
10. spread the rest of the frosting over the top layer. lightly spread any excess frosting around the edges for that "naked" frosting look.
I garnished this cake with dried rose petals because they look beautiful and add an extra bit of flavor. It is lovely without any garnish; but if you want a touch of decoration, a sprinkling of pistachios, almonds, or sesame seeds, or a drizzle of honey are tasty as well.
For the sake of simplicity, this recipe uses ground cardamom in the frosting. If you can get your hands on whole pods, however, you can take advantage of the full flavor of the spice. Lightly crush the green pods to release the black seeds. Heat the honey until it runs thin and steep the cardamom pods and seeds for fifteen minutes. Strain out the seeds, let the honey cool, then whip into the goat cheese.
*While baking in circular pans is common and simple, I am a strong advocate for using these metal cake rings on a silicone mat. Not only are they less cumbersome to store, but it is much easier to remove the cake without risking a broken bottom.
When the cakes have been out of the oven for 5-10 minutes, place a cooling rack upside down on top of them. Flip the cake over onto the rack. Take off your sheet tray, peel back the silicone mat, then use a paring knife to gently slice around the very edge of the ring. Let cool the rest of the way then frost those beautifully clean edges.
Thanks for celebrating the Sweet Life's third birthday with me! Now go on and explore the blog some more to learn about these coming of age changes.