Baking a birthday cake for a friend is a meaningful gesture. I was greeted at work on my birthday with a flamboyantly decorated desk and a sweet cake baked by the other half of First We Eat (the lady without a sweet tooth, nonetheless!). When our coworkers birthday rolled around, we wanted to surprise her with a pretty treat. What better than a recipe that takes advantage of the abundance of blueberries in boxes, in barrels, in crates at our local markets? We hurried to Monterey Market (our favorite source by far of fresh produce in the East Bay) and scooped up as many as we could. (literally: we were looking at a mountainous pile of blueberries with a plastic scoop). Returning home with our plunder, we began to build this lemony cake.
It’s a straightforward recipe, but it requires a lot from both your stand mixer and your self-restraint. Many minutes of stirring and whipping, and then only the most judicious mixing as soon as you wet and dry are combined. We would recommend adding a few extra blueberries to the mix at this point. Everyone knows blueberries are the best part, and your slices will look even more arrestingly lovely. The frosting is best if used immediately, so don’t leave it in the fridge overnight like we did! The results, either way, are simple and delicious. The cake is moist, studded with juicy blueberries, and fragrant with lemon zest. Once enrobed in the sweet cream cheese frosting, it is sure to delight the lucky birthday-haver.
Lemon-Blueberry Cake (from Sally’s Baking Addiction) – We made two 6-inch inch cakes and 7 cupcakes with the batter, but it’s designed to fill three 9-inch cake pans.
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, careful not to overmeasure
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
- zest + juice of 3 medium lemons
- 1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh (258g) or non-thawed frozen (275g)
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray three 9×2 inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside. (Our note: we added parchment paper rounds to the bottom of the pans as an added precaution against sticking.)
- Make the cake. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy – about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
- In a large sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not overmix at any point. Overmixing will lend a tough, dense textured crumb. (Our note: no really, be careful!)
- Spoon batter evenly into prepared cake pans. If only using 2 cake pans, your bake time will be longer. Bake the three layers for about 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took 21 minutes (and ours took roughly 28). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.
- Assemble and frost. First, using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. The recipe doesn’t make a ton of frosting, just enough for a light frost (if you make a slightly smaller cake, like we did, the amount of frosting is perfect!). Top with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut.