Andrea is a home baker who loves to perfect challenging cakes, breads, and the like. She is on a quest to find the perfect flavor combos.
Crater Lake Blue Poke Cake
Crater Lake is a beautiful waterscape in Oregon that is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. My cake is based on the lake's gorgeous color. The recipe includes a specialty tea mix from Oregon Tea Traders; I don't know of another company that sells Crater Lake Blue tea (or even something similar to it).
The hardest part of this recipe is procuring the tea. You'll need to order it online. You could attempt to make your own substitution, but this will likely be more expensive and challenging—unless you know the right proportion of butterfly pea flowers and herbs. I would suggest a mix of butterfly pea flowers, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
The cake sponge smells really good. I was surprised by its color, though; it turned out to be more of a matcha green. I believe the butter and milk toned down the color.
You don't need to worry about the cake sponge color too much, because the Jell-O will make your cake a vibrant blue. If you want the sponge to be bluer, you could add more of the tea blend or even add a touch of blue food coloring.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
12 to 15 servings
- Cake prep time: 45 to 60 minutes
- Bake time: 30 minutes
- Cooling time: 30 to 60 minutes
- Jell-O setting time: 4 to 6 hours
- Adding the icing and blueberries: 5 to 10 minutes
I recommend baking this cake on a weekend when you have plenty of time. It's a lovely cake to start in the morning or at midday and then eat for dessert at night.
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The cake should last for about three to five days in your fridge. You can skip the poke and Jell-O part and just eat the sponge.
Pictures of the Finished Cake
For the sponge:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup milk
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Crater Lake Blue Tea
- 3 teaspoons coconut oil
For the Jello-O:
- 6 ounces berry blue Jell-O
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups cold water
For the icing:
- 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
For the topping:
- 1 cup or more blueberries
- 1 cup or more Andes chocolate mint chips
- Set the butter and eggs on the counter so that they have enough time to warm up by the time you use them.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-Inch pan.
- In a large bowl that can withstand heat, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed. Best with a whisk attachment.
- Pour the sugar into the eggs at a medium speed. Wait about 45 seconds.
- Ramp up the speed to high and beat for about 7 minutes, or until the mixture triples in volume and becomes white. You can do the steps below while the egg mixture is beating.
- In a processor, grind down the Crater Lake Blue Tea mix. You don't want large tea chunks in your cake.
- Add the milk and butter to a saucepan. Set the stove to medium-low heat. Do not let the milk bubble and boil. Foam is okay. Add the Crater Lake Blue Tea mix. (Do not let the liquid mixture cool down! It will affect the rise.) Stir the tea mix thoroughly. The color may start at a dark blue and end more greenish because of the milk and butter.
- When the eggs are sufficiently whipped, add one-third of the dry ingredients at a time, making sure each batch is thoroughly mixed. Beat at a slow speed. Once you are finished adding flour, and you can't see any flour in the batter, stop beating.
- Pour the hot liquid mixture into the now-empty flour bowl. Add the vanilla and oil into the hot liquid and mix together. Add 1 1/2 cup of the egg batter to the hot liquid. You can use an electric whisk to bring together or do this by hand. (It takes about 2 minutes of stirring by hand. The mixture is very malleable.) Your mixture should be smooth and foamy.
- Turn your large standing mixer on its lowest setting and pour in the hot liquid mixture. Beat for about 15-20 seconds. Turn off. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on the lowest setting again for about 10 seconds. The batter should be smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Your cake batter will have a green matcha color to it. It should smell fragrant from the tea.
- Bang the cake pan on the counter a couple of times to knock out any large bubbles. (Don't worry about small bubbles.)
- Bake for 30 minutes. A toothpick or fork should come out clean from the center.
- Let the cake cool for 30 to 60 minutes. I placed my pan with the cake in it on a wire rack. You could take the cake out of the pan and place it on the rack and then transfer it back to the pan, but this is a lot of work. (And you run the risk of breaking the cake.)
- After the cake has cooled, take a toothpick or fork and make holes in neat rows and columns on the cake top. (Using a fork will speed up this process.)
- Make the Jell-O. Add boiling water to Jell-O mix. Stir for 2 minutes. Stir until everything has dissolved. Stir in the cold water. Pour the mix over the poked cake. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
- Mix together icing ingredients in a processor. Adding more yogurt will make it thin and runny. More cream cheese (or butter) will help thicken it. Lather up the cake with icing. Add blueberries and mint chocolate chips to your heart's desire.
- All-purpose flour is the way to go. It does a better job with the butter and vanilla for the crumb-like texture. Cake flour is fine.
- Brown sugar specks are okay. If you don't like them, you could use caster or superfine sugar. You're going to cover this cake with icing and toppings, so I don't see brown sugar specks as an issue. They don't influence taste; it's just an aesthetic thing.
- Eggs do better at room temperature. I didn't get my eggs at room temperature when I did this recipe for the pictures. Room temperature eggs will fluff up the cake more, and fluffy is good for texture. Old eggs also don't fluff up as well as fresh eggs.
- Add sourdough starter. Add a 1/4 cup of sourdough starter to your eggs and sugar just before you add the flour. This will amp up the fluff factor.
- The fattier the milk the better. Thinner milk will be less tender. For this recipe, don't substitute with non-dairy milks.
- Double layers. This cake has a pretty thin batter. It doesn't have an enormous rise. I think it's perfect for a Jell-O cake. If you want a taller cake, consider baking in two smaller round pans, and stack them on top of each other.
- Perfect golden sides and base. I used cooking spray on my pan to achieve this. You can also use butter. If you really lay on the grease, your edges will come out beautifully.
- Make sure the Jell-O covers all the holes. You want the filling to be abundant.
- Less Jell-O is just fine. You could follow this recipe with one 3oz Jell-O box and fewer holes on the cake. The cake holds 6oz of Jell-O just fine. I don't think more Jell-O is necessary, and I'm not sure the structure of the cake could handle it. You could add extra Jell-O to have a layer of Jell-O on your cake before adding icing and toppings.
- Mint chocolate chips and blueberries = heaven. This isn't a popular combo for toppings, but for a cake that's trying to represent a lake, it works beautifully.
- You don't have to use coconut oil. You could substitute it with vegetable oil or other cooking oils. I prefer coconut oil because it is healthier than vegetable oil.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence