Baking on July days is a bit exhausting. Even using the outdoor stove, it’s hot work. So I need a pretty good reason, or an abnormally cool day, to even attempt it.
The feast of St. Elijah is a really good reason. Bringer of thunderstorms, patron of my wild, changeling, little boy – I covet his prayers. We got started almost as soon as we woke up this morning – infusing bee balm in milk as the stove warmed up, beating butter and turbinado sugar in the big bread bowl.
We made one large cake (for the nameday-boy to share with family and fairies!) and one small cake (for Saint Elijah to keep on the altar and share with our family saints). They were baked and cooling before 10am and I beat together a butter, balmy frosting with the rest of the infused milk.
And now, St. Elijah is pulling clouds together overhead! I’m hoping for a long, strong, soaking storm to water the gardens and fill the rain-barrels! Ilya is hoping for a another massive slice of cake.
Preheat your oven to about 350 (mine bakes cakes best around 300-325, because the wood heat is super drying if it’s much hotter, but a gas or electric stove will want to be at 350).
Infuse 5 or 6 bee balm blossoms in 1 1/2 cups milk or light cream by warming milk gently on the stove with blossoms in milk. When the milk is warm, but not scalded, remove from heat, cover and leave to steep for about 15 minutes or until cool.
Beat together 1 cup room temperature butter, 1 3/4 cups turbinado sugar, and a splash of vanilla until creamy and soft. Beat in 4 eggs until everything is blended well.
In a separate bowl, mix together 2 1/2 – 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, (and if your butter was unsalted, a 1/2 teaspoon salt).
Add half the dry mixture to the butter mixture, then blend with 1 cup of the infused milk. Add the rest of the flour and a tiny (like 1 tablespoon) splash of milk. Blend gently.
Pour the batter into one small and one large springform pan, mine were 4″ and 9″ in diameter. Bake the small cake for about 25 minutes, and the large for 35-40 minutes, or until the whole area is scented with bee balm and vanilla and a knife or tester comes out crumbly or clean – no wet batter interiors!
Let the cakes cool and mix up the frosting!
1/2 cup butter
At least 3 cups powdered sugar (watch the texture change to measure, you want creamy and buttery but not wet. Very fluffy is ideal.)
And drizzles of the bee balm infusion.. I ended up using about 1/4 – 1/3 cup.
Beat it together until very smooth and creamy and spreadable..not too hard to do as the summer heat is softening the butter all the while! Decorate with all you edible wildflowers.
Blessed feasting all!
(Recipe adapted from The Spruce‘s Fluffy Vanilla Cake.)