Blackberry lemon cake is a moist three-layer vanilla white cake with lemon cream filling and blackberry buttercream. It's a delicious summer cake perfect for any celebration or gathering.
Summer gatherings call for seasonal summer desserts. I love using fresh fruit to add tons of flavor and pretty colors to my desserts. Lemon is a year-round ingredient, but blackberries are at their peak in the summer.
This blackberry lemon cake begins with a three-layer vanilla white cake made using the reverse-creaming method. A homemade lemon cream adds a lovely filling that complements the blackberry buttercream. This cake is easy-to-make, and each component can be made ahead of time for simplicity.
Before you begin
Take out the following baking equipment.
Digital kitchen scale
Three 6-inch round cake pans
Two medium bowls
Two small bowls
Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
Cake stand, cake turntable, or serving dish
Allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature.
Read the recipe through from start to finish.
Milk is the most common binding ingredient in cakes. Unless otherwise specified, always use whole milk for baking cakes. The fat helps tenderize your crumb. Additionally, whole milk creates a moister and finer cake crumb compared to using low fat or skim milk.
This cake is essentially a white cake. It uses egg whites to produce the white color, but also eliminating the yolks produces a lighter crumb. The fat in the yolk is rich and heavy, and removing them lightens the ingredients and thus lightens the texture. Typically, to substitute a whole egg in a cake recipe, use 2 egg whites to replace every 1 whole egg (for more substitutions click here).
Cake flour is made from soft wheat (it has more starch and less gluten than hard wheat). It's used to create cakes that have a fine, tender crumb and a fluffy texture. If you don't have cake flour on hand, you can simply substitute it with all-purpose flour and cornstarch (1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour – 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch). Sift this substitution twice to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
The reverse-creaming method
There are several mixing methods for cakes, and each has its advantages. Typically the type of cake and desired outcome will determine which method is used. For this cake recipe, the reverse-creaming method is used. This technique is simple to use and produces a tighter crumb texture. This yields a sturdy cake that slices with minimal crumbs. These characteristics are ideal for layer cakes.
To use this method, begin by whisking together the wet ingredients and set aside. Whisk together all the dry ingredients (including the sugar) and then beat in the butter to produce a sandy-like texture. Doing this ensures that the flour particles are coated with the fat, which minimizes gluten formation. Additionally, combining the flour mixture and butter reduces the size of air pockets that are incorporated and creates a tighter crumb.
Finally, the wet ingredients are added to the flour/butter mixture and mixed just until combined. The batter is then ready for baking.
How to make blackberry puree
Local or handpicked blackberries will yield the best flavor for your buttercream. When selecting blackberries, look for ones that are plump, firm, and entirely black. If you are picking your own, select berries that easily come off the stem as blackberries will not continue to ripen once they are picked. In grocery stores, avoid selecting containers that have stains on them, which could be a sign of overripe fruit.
Place 3/4 cup - 1 cup washed and completely dried blackberries into a food processor. Push the pureed fruit through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
What's a crumb coat?
A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that is applied to your cake before adding your final coat of frosting. Without this layer, cake crumbs can easily mix into your frosting when decorating your cake and take away from a beautiful finish. Essentially, a crumb coat acts as a base coat that seals your crumbs before adding your final layer of buttercream. It can be used for any cake that uses any buttercream or cream cheese frosting.
How to apply a crumb coat
To apply a crumb coat, use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake. Smooth the cake so that it is as even as possible (you can use a bench scraper to do this). Clean your offset spatula before putting it back into your bowl of buttercream to prevent the crumbs from mixing into the frosting.
Once the cake has an even crumb coat layer, chill the cake in the freezer for 5 minutes to allow the coat to set and slightly harden before applying your final buttercream layer. Alternatively, you can refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. If you leave the cake chill for too long, it will quickly harden your buttercream as you try to apply the final layer.
Tips and takeaways
- Alternatively, you can make this cake using two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Do not add a thick layer of the lemon filling, or else when you decorate the cake with the buttercream, the layers will slide and not stay in place.
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