It has been Spring like in the Bay Area. Cold misty mornings, and as they day progresses it gets sunny and bright. The timing for this post is really not right, with what is going around in the world with the COVID-19 virus, but I had written it a few weeks ago and I have just not had the heart to post it with the world happenings. My heart goes out to all the front line people fighting the virus, and I really hope that sunnier/warmer days will bring some sort of an end to all of this. It is really hard to process what everyone is going through, and what the people who are working so hard to fight the virus in hospitals, keeping grocery stores open, essential services open and the police too, to keep all in order. It is a very difficult task and one that must be acknowledged.
There have been so many cherry blossom trees popping up everywhere, making the place look pretty – it gives hope and some spot of brightness in these dreary days. The pretty couple shades of pink, light and airy petals, makes the tree look beautiful! I remember when my kids were in the first grade, they had a craft project to do in Spring, where they would take 5 cotton buds together, tied with a rubber band, and they would dip it in 2 shades of pink, and make this gorgeous cherry blossom tree. Another craft project was to make the cherry blossom tree with crepe paper! It looks so pretty.
The pink flowers with the brown branches on the cherry blossom tree, against the clear blue skies makes the scene absolutely beautiful and breath taking! One day I will go to Japan for the Spring Cherry Blossom Festival! I have only seen pictures online, and they are so ethereal! Drawn with this inspiration, last year I made these absolutely pretty Cherry Blossom Macarons, which are one of my absolute favorite creations! The mac shells had cherry blossom extract, so did the buttercream inside, with a dollop of Cherry Blossom Jam in the middle. I bought the cherry blossom extract and jam from an online Japanese grocery store that I found called anything-from-japan.com ! They have really fun stuff like sakura ( as cherry blossom is called in Japanese) sweet flakes, salty flakes, preserved cherry blossom flowers which are edible, sakura powder to put in pastries etc.
This year I decided to make a 3 layer Cherry Blossom Cake, with one layer filled with the cherry blossom jam, and the other layer filled with lychee curd. I used cherry blossom extract in the cake and the frosting. The flavor is very subtle, and the cake is delicate with the cherry blossom flavor! My kids were not a fan of the jam but they LOVED the lychee curd and the cake flavors! I was very pleased with how beautiful and intricate the cake looked from top to bottom hehe. Inside I created an Ombre effect, because I feel everything in life should be in ombre and floral lol! The cake recipe is a basic vanilla cake recipe, and the frosting is a Cherry Blossom Whipped Buttercream Frosting.
I divided the cake batter into 3 different bowls, and weighed them to make sure that all 3 bowls are equal in weight. Then I put them in 3 6 inch cake tins, once they were greased properly with butter and flour, and laid with a 6 inch parchment paper. You can get the 6 inch parchment papers from Amazon, and it makes it so much easier to simply line the tin with it, rather than go through the efforts of cutting the parchment paper into an exact round that would fit into the pan. It makes it easy to remove the cake from the tin too. It plops out so easily. It is best to keep the cakes overnight in the fridge, or if you don’t want to wait, keep them in the fridge for atleast 2-3 hours, after completely cool and before frosting. Make sure to trim the top of the cakes to level them out so that they are even and straight. You can use a bread knife to do so.
For the layers, I first take the bottom layer, then apply a generous amount of simple syrup on the cake so that it keeps the cake moist. Then I used the frosting to pipe a layer with a pipping bag with the tip cut off, to make an outer rim on the cake. I filled the first layer with lychee curd. Then I topped a second layer of the cake on it, and then repeat the simple syrup process, and then layering the rim with frosting. Fill it with the cherry blossom jam in an even layer. Top off the cake again with the 3rd cake layer and use simple syrup again to keep the cake moist. Now you can go ahead and decorate the cake.
The frosting recipe is enough for the crumb coat, the actual shaded frosting, and also the decoration of the cherry blossoms. Crumb coat is when you take the cake, and assemble the layers, and then frost the outside to secure the crumbs from falling. This prevents the crumbs from showing up on the side of the cake. You do a light layer of frosting, and then put the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then you can frost it completely. Before decorating the cake with the cherry blossoms, make sure you put the cake in the fridge again for it to set and solid. It makes for a much easier job with the decoration and pipping.
I did a very simple design, but you could go fancy to pipe flowers like Tessa from Style Sweet CA does! She makes the most gorgeous looking cakes always! I know Easter this year is going to be quiet, no mass gatherings, no huge family brunches, but even to celebrate within your own family, this pretty cake would bring a bright cheer to your Sunday Easter brunch. We all need comfort food these days. Since it might be hard to get the Cherry Blossom extract, you can simply use the vanilla extract and make it a vanilla cake with a strawberry jam layer in the middle, or even a strawberry curd with a vanilla frosting on the outside.
I hope you get a chance to try this recipe, if so, please do put a comment on the blog, and/or Instagram and use the hashtag #thejamlab! I would so appreciate it!