Because Summer…

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Memorial Day is upon us. Lucky for us here in California, its nice, sunny and warm. My favorite kind of weather! Which also means bikini season is upon us. So I thought….Hey, lets make a cake to celebrate! I mean it has berries in it. So don’t get too worried. A piece is all you’ll need (but its so yummy you’ll want more!)

This cake will have everyone at the party in a buttercream, berry cake daydream just at the sight of it. Once they eat it, they’ll have died and gone to summer dessert heaven. Floating on clouds of vanilla buttercream. Bouncing along spongy white cake tops, popping berries in their mouths with wild abandon. At least that’s where I went with it. It’s that good. And berries are kinda my thing. So there’s that.

IMG_8562It’s light enough to be served at any summer affair and elegant enough to make it the center of attention.

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The four layers make a spectacular plating and a very generous serving. And if you are genuinely keeping an eye on your bikini ready figure, then you could easily split this in two and share. Not gonna lie….I ate the entire piece. Now chicken, rice, tilapia and asparagus will be in my near future.

True story. More on that to come.

I really did love the combination of all these components together. The cake is light and moist. The buttercream frosting adds just the right amount of richness. While the berries are the highlight of the cake and add the perfect amount of tartness to balance it all out. And lets not over look the colors, the quintessential summer palate. Everyone wins! You will be standing on the podium giving your acceptance speech the next time you show up with this winning cake.

 

Summer Berry Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS

For the White Cake (as adapted from Sweetapolita Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake)

  • 1 1/2 cup (360ml) whole Milk, at room temperature
  • 7 large egg whites (210g) at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon  (23ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups (430g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2-1/4 cups (450g) sugar
  • 1-3/4 tablespoons (25g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (8g)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170g) butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) vegetable shortening, cut into cubes

For the Vanilla Buttercream

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) (460g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • Approximately 4 cups (500g) confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (47ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the Berries

  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 2 pints blackberries
  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • splash of lemon juice
  • sprinkling of sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° Grease, line with parchment paper and flour two 8″ rounds pans (you will be using the twice). If you have four 8″ rounds, you can use parchment paper circles for ease.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/2 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (the “stir” setting on most kitchen aids) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and shortening, blending on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  6. Divide batter evenly between the four cake pans (or divide batter into two pans, you will bake the first two layers, then follow with the remaining batter) Or the best way to do this is to weight the batter out in the pan on a scale to ensure each layer is even (this is my preferred method). Spread the batter evenly with a small offset palette knife.
  7. Bake cake layers two at a time in center of oven and 2″ apart for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean with inserted into the center. Be careful to not overbake! Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before. If cake is not ready at 20 minutes, re-set timer for 2 minute intervals until tester comes clean. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Then take small metal spatula and loosen the sides and invert cake onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up so the tops are up and cool completely.
  8. Wash the two cake pans and line, grease and flour again and repeat.
  9. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to two days.

 

For the Vanilla Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 6-8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale and creamy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  3. Best if used right away.

For the Berries

  1. Pick through, rinse and dry all berries.
  2. Cut stems off of strawberries and quarter them with a paring knife.
  3. Place all berries into a bowl, squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice over berries and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Stir until coated.

Assembly of Cake

  1. With a serrated knife, gently trim the dome top of the cake layers. Set aside (these are you taste test bites!)
  2. Place first layer of cake, cut side up, on cake plate or an 8″ cake round (easier to use if you will be transporting your cake). Dollop a generous amount of vanilla frosting on cake. Using an offset spatula, spread frosting evenly over the cake. Then take about a 1/4 of the berry mixture and spread an even layer of berries over the frosting, keeping in mind to bring some berries to the edge so they peek out!
  3. Repeat process for all remaining layers. For the top layer place berries however you like for decoration.
  4. Place cake in refrigerator to set. Before serving bring cake out for 15-20 minutes, cut and serve.
  5. Enjoy!

 

This cake is just as much a joy to make as it is to serve. Take time this Memorial Day to honor those that gave their lives in order for us to be here having our cake and eating it too. Happy Summering everyone!

V~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast Pastries

Lucky for me the whole family loves lemon treats. It gives me an excuse to bake with lemons. Plus they eat most of it!! So that’s a win for me. Their two favorite goodies are Lemon Loaf and Lemon Blueberry Muffins. Basically cake for breakfast. No one can argue with that.

In the Lemon Loafs defense, it’s not entirely horrible. It has yogurt and a bit of oil. So no butter. That’s slightly better, right? The muffins have blueberries, which are dubbed the one of the healthiest foods in the world. So there’s that. The kids are eating. That in and of itself is a miracle some days. Choose your battles.

The Lemon Loaf is an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. It’s super simple to make. Requires only two bowls for mixing dry and wet ingredients. Some light whisking and you’re done! And can I say, that when you zest the lemon, it smells like heaven. So fresh and bright. I used Meyer lemons for this recipe, which add a special flavor to this cake. I’ll bake it either way, but I love using the Meyer lemon!

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The Blueberry Muffins are pretty simple too. I like to wake up a wee bit early to get these in the oven before the kids wake up. Makes the house smell amazing and then breakfast is ready when they wake. I’ve made these for brunch. School functions and snacks. The kids will eat them all day long.

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I’ve had this recipe for nearly 20yrs. Yikes. I just dated myself, but that’s how much I love it. I believe I got it from one of those free grocery store flyers oddly enough. My Grandmother was a firm believer in finding recipes from many different sources.  I’ve tried them with several toppings, crumbles, sprinkles and just plain. They always turn out amazing. This time I did a simple crumble of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter.

They always turn out so light and fluffy. I used a Meyer lemon for these as well. Funny though, I prefer these made with the common lemon. It’s flavor is more traditional lemon flavor and seems to go better in the muffin. Just my preference. The kids still gobbled these up!

 

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Pre heat oven to 400º line a 12 cup muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients together. With a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles course crumbs.

In a small bowl, mix egg, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest together. Pour wet ingredients into the butter/flour mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in blueberries. Divide batter into 12 lined muffin cups.

To prepare topping: combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in cold butter with pastry blender until it looks like course crumbs. Evenly sprinkle topping on muffin batter.

Bake for 2o minutes, until tops are golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

 

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Meyer Lemon Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated Meyer lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk

Pre heat oven to 350º Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with butter and flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest.

Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and slowly whisk to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold in the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure its completely incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer placed in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile cook the 1/3 cup sugar with the 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pan and place on a wire rack that is placed over a sheet pan. The sheet pan will catch all the drippings from the simple syrup and the glaze. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to cool completely.

For the glaze, stir together the confectioners sugar, lemon juice and milk. Pour over the cake and allow it to set.

Both of these pastries are super simple to make. They take very little effort and time, but are huge hits! Give them a go!

Enjoy!

V~