Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Cake

Captain's Log

Late is better than never?

Two months ago I got together with one of my oldest friends and we made a cake. We took photos, we laughed, we gorged. I promised to blog that experience. And now I'm doing it, okay!? I've been a little preoccupied lately because, as most of you already know, I'm pregnant! Seven months now. And yadda yadda I've been cooking but not feeling like blogging, more introspective than outgoing, etc. And now this dear friend of mine, the friend with whom I made the cake, has moved to Seattle! It was a very fast thing, I think she herself only had maybe ten days' notice, so we didn't even get to say a proper goodbye. I'm so grateful for the weekend we had together back in February, and that we were able to make something together that I can now document for all of [internet] history to see. 

The recipe was lifted from Sally's Baking Addiction and, I don't know about you, but this cake looks like the ray of sunshine most all of us need by late winter. It's fresh, it's fruity, it's tangy, and just the right amount of sweet so you can eat pretty much more than you intended without noticing. 

Here's the recipe, again from here (we followed it exactly):
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, either frozen or fresh
  • 1T flour
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2T heavy cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
Okay, so the first thing you do is preheat the oven to 350° and whip up that softened butter, two glorious sticks of it:
check out this old school mixer!
It made the most lovely patterns in the batter, as you'll see a bit later.
Then add the sugars…
And whip the butter/sugar until the sugars are dissolved. 
just beautiful
When the sugars are all dissolved, add the eggs and the vanilla. I didn't take a picture of this, for some reason. Here's a consolation:
We planted an immensely popular  \cat grass "lawn." 
In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). When the sugars are dissolved in the butter and eggs/vanilla well mixed into the batter, you can add the dry ingredients.
And now it's time for buttermilk…
Lemon zest…
And a creepy swamp lake of lemon juice…
Mix well. Though, as the original recipe notes and as I will emphasize here, over mixing is a bad bad thing! It may even be best to mix the buttermilk and zest ahead of time so that's just "one" addition, and to mix the lemon juice in by hand rather than using the mixer. I state these alternatives because, as you'll see a little later, I think our cake ended up a little denser than it was supposed to. Onward!

Now it's time to toss the berries with some flour and gently mix them into the batter. If the berries are frozen, leave them frozen! The lil icy pebbles will mix in nicely. Thawed berries, as we all know, are freakin mush disasters. 
Then divide the batter between three greased round cake pans. 
Then bake at 350° for 20-26 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Maybe do some bird watching while you wait?
Also, did you remember to set out the cream cheese and butter for the frosting? So they'll be soft? I DIDN'T THINK SO.
Once the cakes are out, let them cool in their pans for a bit, then tip them out onto cooling racks until they are… fully.. cooled. 
When the cakes are ready to be iced, you can make the icing. Can you tell I'm running out of words?

Whip dat butter with the cream cheese…
I said whip it!!
Then add the vanilla, pinch of salt, cream, and powdered sugar…
The original recipe says to whip this for three minutes, until fluffy. I'd say longer! I get a little obsessed with the notion of "dissolving" the powdered sugar so that the final product isn't grainy. So we probably whipped this, tinkering with the cream (aka adding splashes more) until it was perfectly silky.

Then it's time to ice those cakes!
We spread the icing pretty thinly because the recipe warned us that there's not a ton of icing to work with…
…But in retrospect we could have been a little more generous…
Because while the finished cake was a total work of art…
at least a cup extra
So if you make this recipe, don't be shy with icing the interior layers!
This cake was awesome! So beautiful, so fresh. It really brightened our lives on a dreary cold February day. I will make one note on procedure and texture, though… see the photo below?
See how the cake looks dense, almost spongey? If you compare that to the photos on the original site, I feel like there is a bit of a textural discrepancy. I was expecting more fluff! I suspect we may have added too much flour, or perhaps we just over-mixed in an effort to be thorough. Don't get me wrong, the cake was awesome! I think it just needs to be, you know, a little lighter. And at this point I'll say it's a "user" error. So you should try this and see if you can do better!

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