Have you ever seen the “Put a bird on it” skit from Portlandia? If you’re staring blankly at these words on your computer screen, making shifty eye movements and cocking your head to one side wondering if you can, in good conscious, continue reading despite never having seen that skit, I’m here to tell you to go watch it. GO WATCH IT NOW. It’s cool. We’ll wait.
If you’re wondering “Why the Sam Hill did I just have to go watch that?” it’s because I went all “put a bird on it” with this cake. Except, in my case, it’s more like “put a flower on it.” See, that fantastic reference would make no sense if you hadn’t seen the skit. Also, if you suddenly find yourself struck by an uncanny desire to put birds and/or flowers on things, that’s totally normal. Feel free to go with the feeling.
For me, it all began after seeing a flower-topped cake on Pinterest, (probably, literally, years ago at this point). I couldn’t help but think “You know what this cake needs? Flowers.” just about every time I made a cake. You look me in the eye and tell me that cake doesn’t need flowers.
Why flowers? 1. Because they’re pretty. 2. Holy chocolate cannolis Batman, my sugarcraft skills are downright awful in the flower department. And also figures. Because they are the spawn of satan. Seriously, props to you if sugar flowers are your thing. I’ll just stand over here in awe of your sugarcraft prowess.
But if sugarcraft isn’t your thing, or if you’re thinking “Sugarcraft? Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I feel ya. Welcome to club “put a [real] flower on it” – the cake club edition.
If you’re new to the club and haven’t worked with real flowers before, here are a few important things to know.
1. Some flowers are POISONOUS. First rule of cake club is don’t put poisonous (or hazardous… just because they’re not poisonous doesn’t mean they’re not hazardous) flowers on your cake… Followed closely by rule number two: you do not talk about cake club.
2. Make sure to buy pesticide-free, organic flowers. The best way to know what you’re getting is to go straight to the source by finding a local flower grower. Florists aren’t always able to speak to the conditions in which the flowers were grown, and why take the risk of putting something on your cake that might make people sick? Bonus points for going the local flower grower route because they’re often able to advise you on potentially poisonous or hazardous flowers. I purchased my flowers from the lovely fields of Wild and Wayward.
3. Wrap your stems! At the risk of sounding like a bad sex ed PSA, wrap your stems otherwise you may end up with some weird fluids in places you don’t want it. And that’s just… Ewwwww. Also it could be potentially hazardous. Are we seeing a reoccurring theme yet? You can use floral tape or aluminum foil tape to wrap your stems, just make sure to wrap each stem individually so that they are COMPLETELY covered.
4. Gently wash your flowers to remove dirt and pollen. I like to mist mine down with a water bottle and gently dab them on a clean paper towel.
5. The flowers should be the last thing to go on your cake. Seriously, once you cut and wrap them, they just don’t last that long.
6. Don’t eat the flowers. Unless you’ve established that the flowers are, in fact, edible, be sure to advise your guests not to eat them. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I think we can all agree that stranger things have been known to happen…
Now that we’ve established the rules of cake club and how not to make your guests violently ill, you’re going to need a cake to put those new found flower skills to work on. Good thing I have just the thing!
THIS is the summer cake to end all summer cakes. And also it’s literally an end of the summer cake (because, you know, apricot season) so it’s got that going for it in this play-on-words extravaganza I’ve got going on over here…
We’re talking moist, melt-in-your-mouth layers of almond poppy seed cake with a thick layer of golden apricot jam. It’s so good you could almost skip the frosting… But juuuuuust almost. Let’s not get carried away like a group of frosting-less savages here. Instead, we’re going the classy, barely there frosting route. Add a little white ganache and you’re all ready to put a flower on it!
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. poppy seeds
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- Apricot jam
- 1 cup (6 oz) bright white candy melts
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 6-8 organically grown, non-toxic flowers
- In a glass measuring cup, combine the milk and butter for the cake. Melt in the microwave using 20 second intervals until melted. Whisk and set aside to cool. Continue whisking occasionally so the milk and butter don't separate.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar for the cake. Place over a pot of boiling water and continue whisking occasionally until hot (approximately 10 minutes). Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl is room temperature (approximately 10 minutes).
- Add the flour and baking powder to the mixture and whisk on low until just incorporated. Add the milk/butter mixture, almond extract and poppy seeds. Whisk until just incorporated, then divide evenly between 3 lined and greased 6" cake pans. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water for the frosting. While the sugar syrup cooks, whip your egg whites in a stand mixer until stiff. Once the syrup is clear and bubbling, turn your stand mixer up to high and pour a thin stream down the side of the bowl until all the syrup has been added.
- Continue whipping the frosting until it has cooled to room temperature. Turn your stand mixer down to low and begin adding the butter in one inch slices. Once all the butter has been added, add the almond extract and turn the stand mixer up to high. Continue whipping the frosting until a thick, smooth frosting forms (don't worry if it starts to look curdled. It will do this before becoming smooth).
- Level your cakes and cut off any dark areas (lighter colored cakes brown easily). Stack your cake using a thin layer of apricot jam and about ⅓ of your frosting between each layer. Lightly coat the top and outside of the cake with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until the frosting has hardened.
- In a small bowl, combine your ganache ingredients and microwave using 10 second increments until you can stir the mixture smooth. Gently pour the ganache over your cake and smooth out and over the edges.
- Trim the stems of your flowers to 1-2" long. Wrap the stems tightly and completely in floral tape or aluminum foil tap. Insert your flowers into the cake.