This may be hard to believe, but I am not a big cake person.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but whenever I tell someone this, I always get the same “say whaaat?!” reaction. Apparently, not obsessing over cake is a sin in the pastry world.
I would much rather eat cookies or brownies. Cake, not so much. Pie? Even less so.
BUT! This lemon blueberry layer cake is one that I cannot get enough of. This is the cake to reform my non-cake tendencies. This is the cake that LITERALLY had to be thrown in the trash because Dan and I could not stop eating it (don’t worry, we ate like 80% of it before it ended up in the garbage can).
And Dan doesn’t like lemon. At all.
So, I don’t like cake and he doesn’t like lemon, but we both couldn’t stop eating this LEMON blueberry CAKE.
Not only is the flavor out of this world, but the moisture and lightness of the cake is heavenly. And the cream cheese frosting is insane. I never met a cream cheese frosting I didn’t like, though, so I might be slightly partial.
The cake itself is reminiscent of a blueberry muffin – so fluffy and sweet and crumbly in the best way. The lemon is an awesome touch because it cuts through the sweetness of everything else just a little bit. Plus, I love lemon and blueberry together. They just belong together.
I would love to tell you that this cake is a cinch to make and comes together in no time at all, but truth be told, layer cakes are a bitch to make. Hah. That’s my personal opinion. I have never enjoyed making cakes, let alone stacking them just right and decorating them in such a way that it doesn’t look like a 5-year-old spread on the frosting. Let’s just say, making cakes like this is NOT my strong suit.
And while we’re being 100% transparent, this cake took me four days to complete. Yes, FOUR DAYS. Not because the recipe is that complicated, but because I have a newborn and a 4-year-old child. I was planning to make this over the course of two days, but thanks to cluster feedings, it took me double that time. Sigh. Real life, man.
But! This cake can be made more approachable if you break it up into batches. For instance, you can bake the cakes one day, wrap them well and store them in the fridge. Make the frosting and decorate on another day.
If I can do it (over four days), you can definitely do the same thing in half or a quarter of the time. I promise. Nothing here is overly complicated.
I kept the cake decorating very simple. I think cream cheese frosting is pretty forgiving. It’s not as finicky as buttercream. It’s meant to look more homey, more rustic. The fact that it’s so delicious helps with this. It’s so good that no one is going to care how it looks. Truth.
Once I stacked and frosted the cake, I decorated it simply with fresh berries, lemon slices, fresh mint, and a few fresh flowers I had left over from a “welcome baby” bouquet. I wanted it to look like spring! I wanted it to look like it belonged on an Easter brunch table (speaking of, this would be the perfect showstopper dessert to make for Easter!).
You can, however, decorate it as simply as you like. Don’t have flowers or mint? Skip ’em! Don’t have any berries left over from the cake? Skip ’em! No biggie. When it comes to actually eating the cake, no one is going to care about those things anyway. One bite and they’ll be in heaven.
It sure is fun to make things look pretty, though! Even I had so much fun with this one, despite all my cake feelings.
If it can transform me, just imagine what it can do for you.
All that’s missing is a glass of milk!
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed with 2 tablespoons of cake flour
2 (8-oz) blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5-6 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of fine salt
Other berries (I used blackberries)
Fresh mint sprigs
Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
Mix the milk and lemon juice together in a measuring cup and set aside until the milk is curdled, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy and well combined, about 5 minutes.
Beat in the extracts, followed by the eggs, beating after each egg is added.
While the wet ingredients are creaming together, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the bowl and mix to combine. Add in ½ of the milk mixture and mix to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, ending with the last ⅓ of the flour. Mix the batter until light and creamy and no bits of flour remain.
Toss the blueberries and 2 tablespoons of cake flour together in a bowl (I use the same bowl as the flour mixture) and then gently fold them into the batter with a spatula.
Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the outside and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes and then carefully invert them into cooling racks to cool completely to room temperature.
Beat together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy, fluffy, and well combined.
Add in the lemon zest, extracts, and lemon juice and beat to combine.
Add the powdered sugar, 1-2 cups at a time, mixing to combine. Keep adding the sugar until the mixture is fluffy and thickened. Beat in a tiny pinch of fine salt. Continue beating until the frosting is super smooth.
Place one cake layer onto a serving plate or cake stand and top with roughly 1 cup of the frosting. Smooth out to the edges of the cake and then top with the second layer of the cake. Repeat until all three layers are stacked, with frosting in between each layer.
Frost the top of the cake, bringing the frosting down and around the sides of the cake, to create a thin layer or "crumb coat" of frosting. Place the cake in the fridge to set for about 20 minutes.
Frost the chilled cake all over with the remaining frosting.
Decorate the flowers, berries, fresh mint, and/or lemon slices, as desired.
Store the cake in the fridge, well covered, for up to a day. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving. Store sliced cake in the fridge, well covered, for several days.
Adapted from here.