This cake concept came about after my friend, Christina, was so kind as to share with me drawings of cakes she likes to create. One that caught my eye was the lotus cake that she drew. It was beautiful, and being raised in a Buddhist household, I just had to create a cake inspired by it.
I decided first and foremost that this cake needed to be colored naturally. So I enlisted the help of two different kinds of twos: butterfly pea tea, and matcha. Butterfly pea tea is a naturally blue tea that turns pink when you add in lemon juice. It’s pretty cool, not going to lie. Already, that covers both the lotus and the water of the pond aspects. In terms of flavor, it is in the vegetal side, but you can cover that up with sugar, lemon, and vanilla, so it’s all good. I used the matcha because it can be used to color the moss and lily pad that would also be sharing the stage with the lotus.
The different elements of this dessert include a butterfly pea chiffon cake, butterfly pea-lemon chantilly, butterfly pea mirror glaze, butterfly pea “veil”, matcha-white chocolate ganache “moss”, matcha “lilypad” sable, and butterfly pea pulled sugar “lotus”. This dessert, I was debating sharing the recipe because of how many components it was and how difficult it was to execute properly. But alas, it would be a shame to let the recipe fall to the wayside, so let’s do this.
Butterfly pea tea:
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup butterfly pea tea flowers
You need the tea for basically the entire recipe, so you might as well make a large batch of it here. Combine together and allow the flowers to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Strain out the flowers, pressing to extract as much of that blue color as possible.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 egg whites
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butterfly pea tea*
Whip egg whites with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and baking powder until stiff. Whip yolks with the tea, 1/4 cup sugar, and gently stream in the olive oil. Sift the flour, and fold everything together. Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cake sit for another 5 minutes in the oven, with the oven door left just slightly open. Allow the cake to cool completely before assembly.
2 tablespoons butterfly pea tea*
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip together the tea, lemon juice, sugar, corn starch until the lumps are removed. Whip over heat for 3 minutes, and then add in the olive oil. Strain and chill until the mixture thickens and cools completely. In another bowl, whip the cream and vanilla to stiff peaks. Fold in the lemon-tea mixture, transfer to a piping bag, and allow it to set in the fridge until assembly.
1/4 cup butterfly pea
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons agar
a pinch of salt
Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Pour out onto a sheet tray and cool completely in the refrigerator.
1 cup all purpose flour + more for rolling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon matcha powder
Combine ingredients and allow the dough to cool until firm. On a floured surface, roll out the cookies to about 1/16th an inch thick. Using a 1 inch cookie cutter, cut out circles and transfer to a parchment lined baking tray. Using a butter knife, cut out a small slice from each cookie, and then press the grooves into the surface of the cookie so that it will resemble the surface of a lilypad. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes. Cool completely.
Using a 5 inch ring mold, cut out four rounds from the sheet cake. Using a 3 inch ring mold, cut out four rounds from the veil. Using a piping bag, pipe circles of the cream onto three of the four rounds of cake. Press three of the four rounds of veil into the center of the cream, then layer up, making the top layer the one that lacks cream or veil on top. Cover the entire cake in more cream, using an offset spatula to ensure a thin, even layer, and then freeze completely. Reserve the fourth veil round for the final part of assembly.
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterfly tea
3/4 teaspoons gelatin powder
Bloom the gelatin in 1 tablespoon of the tea. Then melt it into the remaining 3 tablespoons. Bring to a slight simmer, take off heat, and then add in the white chocolate chips. Keep the glaze at the warmest, lukewarm, before assembly, so that it remains a liquid when it comes to pouring.
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
Melt the chocolate and add in the matcha. Transfer to a piping bag. Keep lukewarm before assembly.
Pulled sugar lotus:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup butterfly tea
Combine ingredients and bring to a simmer. Continue to reduce until it is at hard crack stage. To determine if it is, you can take some of the sugar, spoon it up, and pass it under cold water. If the sugar solidifies into a hard candy-like texture, then you’re good. Another way to tell is that it should create a 1/32th of an inch layer on a rubber spatula if you stir it. At that point, pour onto a nonstick surface, and then allow the sugar to cool slightly. When the edges should start to solidify, but the center of the sugar is still a presumably molten hot liquid, start folding the outward edges towards the center, making sure you have gloved hands when you do this so that you don’t transfer the oils from your skin into the sugar; that will cause the sugar to set with a weird texture. Continue folding the sugar inwards, allowing the edges of it to cool slightly between folds, until you’re left with a warm ball of sugar. Now this is where the biggest bitch of the entire cook comes in. If you have a red light, use it, if not, then you need to work quickly here. Roll the sugar into a log, and pull off a piece from the edges using your thumb, and form that piece into a tear drop shape, with the bottom of the teardrop being flattened out and concave. Keep doing this with the rest of the sugar, and slowly press together five of the sugar petals in a circular pattern, then fold the petals upward. Repeat the circular pattern pressing first with another six petals. Gently place the five petals into the six, and if the outer six petals are still malleable, fold them upwards like how you did with the original five. Allow the sugar to set in this lotus shape.
Take the cake and glaze with the mirror glaze. Then rim the edges of the cake using the matcha ganache. Take the veil and place it into the center of the top layer of the cake. Rim the edges of the cake with some crushed up sable, making sure to save one lilypad for the cake itself. Pipe a small bit of the ganache onto the center of the lilypad, on both sides, and place onto the veil, grooved side up. Place the lotus onto the ganache’d (if that’s even a verb) part of the lilypad. Congratulations, you spend an entire day preparing a cake that resembles a pond! Eat it, admire it, go to city hall and legally marry it, I don’t give a flying fuck. Just don’t spoil the moment.