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Earl Grey Layer Cake with Bergamot Curd #SpringOnThePlate #MelissasProduce #Sponsored

  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Melissa's Produce.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Can you believe that February is already over? And we even had a bonus day in February. But with the advent of March, I begin to see the steady parade towards the Vernal Equinox and Spring which is my favorite season.

Last week I noticed that Melissa's Produce* shared a photo of yellow dragonfruit on one of their social media channels. So, I reached out to my contacts at Melissa's Produce to see if they would want to sponsor a series of posts. I had my eyes on making some Spring-y, sunny dishes. And they did! I received a selection of yellow produce and set out to make some #SpringOnThePlate recipes.

I received several Bergamot Oranges (you can read about them on the Melissa's Produce website here). Berga- what?!? If you've ever had Earl Grey tea, you are probably familiar with that  distinctive citrusy scent that is bergamot. But what is it? And from where does it come from?


Bergamot is an aromatic citrus fruit that is common throughout the Mediterranean. The fruit is roughly the size of an orange, but has the coloring of a lime or a lemon, depending on ripeness. The fragrant oil in its rind imparts that tart, acidic, spicy quality to Earl Grey tea.

Since I had just made poppy seed-lemon cake (that recipe will be shared for March's #TheCakeSliceBakers on the 20th...stay tuned), I decided to make a riff on that by swapping out Earl Grey tea for the poppy seeds and filling the cake with a bergamot curd. I added a touch of corn meal for texture, but you can use almond flour if you want it less grainy. Also I frosted the cake with buttercream and, in honor of all the mimosa corsages all over Italy for Festa delle Donne which is celebrated in Italy on Sunday, March 8th, I decorated my cake with buttercream mimosa flowers.

Ingredients makes one 9" three-layer cake

Cake
  • 1/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 t lemon extract
  • zest from 1 bergamot orange
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1/3 C corn meal or polenta
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 T Earl Grey tea
  • 1/4 t salt
  • Also needed 9" round baking pans, parchment paper

Bergamot Curd
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed bergamot juice
  • zest from two bergamot oranges
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 T butter, cut into cubes

Buttercream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 C water minus 1 T
  • 1 T freshly squeezed bergamot orange juice
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T organic corn syrup
  • 2 C butter, softened
  • yellow and green food coloring, as needed (I prefer vegetable and fruit-based dyes)
  • Also needed: piping bag and tips

Procedure

Bergamot Curd
Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.


Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.


Transfer curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.


Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 9" round baking pans by buttering them and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Add in the egg yolks, lemon extract, and bergamot zest. Mix again, then pour in the milk.

In another mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients: flour, corn meal, baking powder, Earl Grey tea, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and fold in gently with a spatula until just moistened.

In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter, taking care not to deflate the egg whites too much. Divide the cake batter evenly between three cake pans. 


Place pans on baking sheets and place them in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the layers are firm and golden. Remove the trays from the oven and cool the cakes completely on wire racks.


Buttercream
Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and beat on high until they are thick, pale, and ribbon off the whisks.

Combine water, bergamot juice, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. You can attach a candy thermometer to the side; I just kept testing until it reached soft-ball stage. If you're using a thermometer, heat until it reaches 238 degrees F. For testing otherwise, dip a spoon into the syrup, then into ice cold water. The syrup should immediately set up into a soft ball. Mine took about 8 minutes to reach the correct consistency.

Once the syrup is ready, remove it from the heat. While one hand hold the mixer, use the other hand to pour the syrup into the yolks. When all of the syrup is added, turn the mixer up to high and beat until the yolks have doubled in size and have reached medium peak stage. The bowl should be cooled and just lukewarm to the touch. Mine took about 9 minutes.

Begin adding butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. The more butter you add, the more firm the buttercream will be.

Once your buttercream resembles what you think of as buttercream, add in the food coloring. I pulled out about 1/4 and dyed that yellow; I dyed the rest green.


For Finishing
Once the cake layers have cooled completely, use a serrated knife to cut the layers flat. Spread a generous amount of curd between each layer and place them on your serving platter.

Smooth the green buttercream over the top and along the sides, keep about 2 to 3 T of the green for the stems of the mimosa flowers. Dye the remaining green a little darker green; I actually ran out of green and had to use blue butterfly pea flower powder. So, my dark green verged on dark teal. Oh, well. 


Pipe stems on the cake, then add yellow dots to emulate the blossoms of the mimosa tree.


Place cake in the fridge to let the buttercream set. Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
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*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

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