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Journal / Special series
Birthday Bash at Blackberry Farm
To celebrate Tata’s Birthday, a few of us escaped to one of her favorite countryside retreats for a weekend of total relaxation and, of course, baking birthday cakes! Blackberry Farm is a rustic-yet-luxurious all-American hideaway in Tennesse’s Smoky Mountains. Steeped in farm tradition, it’s also a foodie mecca and known for its modern Southern hospitality.
We couldn’t wait to meet the Pastry Sous Chef of The Barn, Blackberry’s iconic restaurant, and put the apron on ourselves. In true farm-to-plate fashion, we learned all about their local, wholesome ingredients and how the chef works closely with a collection of artisans - from the forager to master gardener - to bring their edible creations to life.
Next, we headed to the test kitchen to truly put the recipes to the Team Tata test! We had our favorite wellness & foodie blogger, Robyn Youkilis, alongside and created the most delicious & decadent cakes - all decorated in Tata’s favorite edible flowers & garden fresh ingredients.
Here are our fave recipes…
Yield: 3x 6” layers
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1 cup cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
3 celery stalks, juiced
6 leaves of kale
Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease and coat your cake pans with flour; set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and also get a medium sized bowl filled with ice water.
With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, combine you butter, coconut oil, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Let it beat for at least 5 minutes, until mixture is airy and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg whites one at a time, and then the vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Alternating between the cake flour and the buttermilk, add both to the batter, ensuring that you stop occasionally to scrape down the bowl.
Take the leaves of kale off the stems, and drop the leaves in the boiling water. Let them steep in the boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, and then using tongs or tweezers, pull the kale out of the boiling water and into the ice water. Let the kale rest in the ice water for a few minutes, then squeeze out the excess water, and drop the blanched kale into a blender. Using the celery juice, blend the kale until it is liquified. Then use a rubber spatula to stir the kale puree into the cake batter by hand, until desired color is reached.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans, and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the cake pans for about 15 minutes, and then flip them out on to a cooling rack.
Mushroom Spice Cake:
Yield: 3x 6” layers
1 cup canola oil
1 ¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup mushroom puree
¼ cup banana puree
2 ½ cups gluten free flour (we use Anson Mills, Bobs Red Mill or your favorite blend will work)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease your cake pans, and dust with gluten free flour to prevent sticking.
Whisk together the oil, brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract. Roast your mushrooms in the oven, and while they are still warm, put them in a blender and puree them. Add the banana to the mushroom puree, and puree. Then add the combined puree to the rest of the wet ingredients. Set aside, and in a new bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Combine both sets of ingredients, and whisk until the ingredients are homogenous.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the cake pans for about 15 minutes, and then flip them out on a cooling rack.
American Buttercream: Yield: 1 complete 6” cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
Dash of kosher salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Beat the butter on medium speed with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. Once softened, add the salt and slowly start adding the confectioner’s sugar. Once all of the confectioner’s sugar is added, turn the mixer to medium high to aerate the buttercream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the heavy cream and vanilla. Mix to incorporate. If you would like your buttercream softer, add more heavy cream or milk tablespoon by tablespoon.
Flourless Chocolate Cake:
Yield: 1x 8” cake layer
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350* F. Using pan spray, grease your 8” cake pan, and set aside.
Melt the chocolate and butter in medium bowl over a pot of boiling water. Once completely melted, stir the chocolate and butter until smooth. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, and stir to incorporate. Then add the eggs and cocoa powder, mixing until just combined.
Pour into your cake pan and bake for at least 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Ganache: Yield: 1x 8” cake
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup heavy cream
Bring the heavy cream to a boil, and pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it melt the chips for about 90 seconds, then using a rubber spatula, stir until ganache is emulsified. Pour over the flourless cake while still warm, and smooth with a butter knife or offset spatula. Garnish with berries or herbs as desired.