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Alright folks. It’s summer in the northern hemisphere and depending on how you feel about hot weather you might be elated or ready to hide in your house with the shades drawn and the AC cranked up. I tend to fall into the second category. I mean, I grew up in Arizona. I’m pretty certain I’ve soaked in enough vitamin D for a lifetime, because that’s definitely how that works.
But one part of summer I do like fresh, delicious, cooling fruit. While I will eat chocolate for days in the fall and winter, spring and summer is the time for lighter, more refreshing food. My fiancé has been learning to draw, so when he drew a blueberry and lemon cake and showed it to me I took it as a hint (and a blessing because damn it’s delicious).
This cake is made of:
Vanilla cake with blueberries baked into it
Lemon swiss meringue buttercream
It doesn’t take as long as it sounds to make these three components once you get it down. But if you’re a busy person? Don’t feel pressured to make every part. You can fill it with store bought jam instead of compote, or used canned frosting. No one has to know. But if you do have some free time, I encourage you to try making each part. It’s not as hard as it sounds and I’ll link to recipes for all the components.
In essence, this cake is a pretty simple 1-2-3-4 cake — 1 cup fat, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups cake flour, and 4 eggs. However, did reduce the amount of sugar in it. I wanted a good balance of tart and sweet since I wanted to make sure the characteristics of the fruit came through. You can absolutely use the regular 2 cups of sugar though if you want to, the recipe still works with it.
I also attempted the naked cake look. I’m still pretty new to cake decorating so… it’s a little messy. But, I went with that because again I want the fruit to shine here and didn’t want to cover it up with too much frosting.
- I primarily use weight to measure ingredients. If you don’t have a food scale at home, I estimated how many cups should be used for each ingredient but weighing your ingredients will be more exact.
- To make the cake above, I made two batches of the recipe in 11 inch cake tins. That makes a uh, pretty big cake so I’d recommend trying one batch of the recipe in two 9 inch cake pans.
For the cake:
- 3 cups/360g cake flour (plus a little extra for blueberries)
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup/8oz softened butter
- 1 1/4 cups/250g of sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup/225mL buttermilk
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups/230g (about 1/2 pint) blueberries
For the lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 5 egg whites (I use US large eggs)
- 1 1/2 cups/300g of sugar
- 2 cups/16oz cups softened butter
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- You can see the recipe for this here. Once you’ve made your buttercream, just mix in the lemon juice at the end until it comes together and is smooth and silky.
For the Blueberry Compote:
- 2 cups/300g blueberries
- 3tbsp water
- 1/4 cup/50g sugar
- 2tsp lemon juice
- Blueberry compote is fairly simple, so I’d recommend using the recipe by Ellie Krieger at Food Network seen here.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- In a bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and sugar
- In a separate bowl, use your standing mixer or hand mixer to cream together butter and sugar
- Add eggs to mixture one at a time until it disappears into mix.
- Once the eggs are mixed in, alternate adding the buttermilk and flour until both are incorporated fully into the mix.
- Add vanilla (or, sometimes I mix my vanilla into the buttermilk and add it in at step 5).
- In a separate bowl, toss blueberries with flour until covered, then add to the mixture and carefully mix in. I do this part in a mixer on low, but you can also fold it in with a spatula.
- For 9 inch cake pans, bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. For my bigger cakes, it took closer to 45 minutes!
- Be sure to cool your cakes for at least 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto cooling racks. I personally leave them in a bit longer just to make sure they’re ready, especially since the blueberries can make them pretty moist.
Adapted from Swan’s Down 1-2-3-4 Cake
To Assemble the Cake
- Cut the tops of the cake so they’re flat and level.
- If you have bigger cakes, you can cut through the middle for more layers.
- Start assembling your layers. On the first layer, pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge and fill the middle with the blueberry compote.
- Repeat this for all interior layers.
- On the top layer, add butter cream and smooth around to the edges.
- Fold the buttercream over the edges, and start to smooth it down the sides. You can add buttercream directly to the sides if necessary — I basically did this part as if I’m doing a thicker crumb coat.
- Once the sides are covered, use a bench scraper to remove icing. I hold it steady in one place, angled slightly forward, and then spin my cake holder to get the excess icing off. Do this until the sides are smooth (or in my case, smooth enough). Some cake should be showing through, of course.
- Smooth off the top by taking your bench scraper to the middle and pulling it to the edges.
- If any buttercream from the top spills over the sides, use the bench scraper as in step 7 to smooth it.
- Repeat these steps until the cake as the look you want, adding patches of buttercream and smoothing where necessary.
- Top with blueberries, lemon peels, whatever you want. Originally I tried this recipe with candied lemon peel, but didn’t feel it added enough to justify the effort. But if you happen to like candied lemon peel more than me, go for it! Feel free to get creative or weird and add whatever you like.
- Open your mouth and inhale the cake like Kirby.