Monday, November 9, 2020


So much drama over the past week - the anticipation, the nervous countdown, the joyous celebration...

I'm referring, of course, to my birthday. 

So why not celebrate by baking a cake with dramatic flavours and beautiful colour? I fell in love with this Pink Peppercorn Cherry Cake the moment I saw it in Tessa Huff's Layered. The pink peppercorn frosting may sound unusual, but I loved how it tamed the sweetness a bit, and it complemented the cherry jam filling perfectly. One of my favourite parts of all this cake baking I'm doing is sharing it with friends; so far I've had three requests for the recipe.

Truly, a cake for all Four Seasons.


Pink Peppercorn Cherry Cake
adapted from Layered, by Tessa Huff

Almond Butter Cake

2 cups cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp almond extract
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and almond flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to medium-low and add almond extract and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Once the last streaks of the dry ingredients are combined, mix on medium speed for no more than 30 seconds.

Evenly divide batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Pink Peppercorn Frosting

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp finely crushed pink peppercorns
1/8 tsp kosher or sea salt
3 drops pink gel food colouring

Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.

Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees (Fahrenheit) on a candy thermometer. Once hot, carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.

With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.

With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. 

Add the crushed peppercorns, salt and food colouring. Mix on medium-high until incorporated.

(Note: if the buttercream is too thick or curdled after mixing, place it back in the double boiler over simmering water. Without stirring, let the edges of the meringue warm up and become liquid - the centre will still be solid - which usually takes about 2 minutes. Return to the mixer and beat on low for 30 seconds, then switch to medium-high and beat another 2 minutes.)

To assemble

2/3 to 1 cup cherry jam
1 jar tipsy cherries (optional)

Once the cakes have completely cooled, place the first layer on a cake plate. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the top edge, and fill the ring with 1/3 to 1/2 cup cherry jam, to cover. Top with the next layer and repeat with the buttercream and jam. Frost top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Before serving, set a circle of cherries around the top edge of the cake for decoration.