I cannot express enough how much I love to bake and decorate layer cakes. There is something therapeutic about baking the layers, making the frosting, and then carefully spreading the frosting over the layers. Maybe it's also because cake is usually very much appreciated and the effort of making a cake rarely goes unacknowledged and unappreciated. Everyone loves a really good slice of cake. Everyone that is, except for my strange little children.
Each year, my kids get to choose the cake flavor to be their birthday cake. Normally I have to really encourage Matthew to think beyond the boring, unimaginative flavors of chocolate and vanilla in order for him to pick a flavor that is a bit more exciting and unique. Emma, on the other hand, had been adamantly requesting a Blueberry Lemon Cake for her birthday for the past several months. I was so excited by her specific request and carefully selected the perfect recipe to make. I worked all afternoon baking and decorating the cake. I chose to decorate it simply with extra blueberries, some coconut that I colored to look like Easter grass, a couple chocolate eggs, and a few chocolate chicks that I had found at the grocery store. The chocolate chicks were so cute and reminded me of Emma's love of ducks and birds so I thought that they would be perfectly fitting decorations for her cake. The birthday girl was quite pleased with the final product.
However, after we had sang to Emma and she had blown all the candles out, she did not care to even try the cake that she had so passionately been requesting and looking forward to eating for months! I was heartbroken! I had worked so hard and was so excited to watch her enjoy eating a slice of the cake. I just about cried. Paul reminded me that this happens pretty much every birthday with each kid. They are just too excited and overstimulated after a day of attention that the last thing they want to do is sit down and eat. They'd just rather be running around and playing with their new toys. He's so right, but it's a bit depressing nonetheless. Matthew made up for Emma's lack of interest in cake by eating an entire gigantic slice and singing my praises the whole time. Matthew is not much of a dessert lover, so that was an incredible compliment!
This cake is such a beautiful, elegant treat! A lemon-kissed buttermilk cake with juicy blueberries suspended throughout enveloped in the most deliciously light and creamy whipped lemon cream cheese frosting - what is not to love? It's definitely one of my favorite layer cakes.
For the record, Emma did eat a slice of cake for breakfast the morning after her birthday. And she loved every bite.
Blueberry Lemon Cake
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
For the Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups (13 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
4 large eggs (7 ounces), room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw if frozen)
For the Whipped Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
4 1/2 cups (18 ounces) powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with at least 2-inch sides with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla until well-combined, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined and a few dry streaks remain.
Add the buttermilk and lemon juice to the batter, and stir by hand, folding the batter until just combined.
In another bowl, toss the blueberries with the 2 tablespoons flour. Add the blueberries and remnants of flour to the batter and fold in by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon until just-combined. Be careful not to over-mix!
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until just baked through. The top will spring back lightly to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out with moist crumbs but not wet batter.
Let the cakes cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the frosting, whip the cream cheese and butter together with a handheld electric mixer or with an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix on low speed (so the powdered sugar doesn't fly everywhere) until combined. Increase the speed to medium and mix until creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and whip the frosting until very light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
When the cake has cooled completely, place one round on a platter or plate and spread the top evenly with frosting. Place the other cake round upside down on the frosting and press just lightly. Continue frosting with a thin spatula or offset spatula until the top and sides of the cake are evenly frosted. Store in the refrigerator, but be sure to remove 1-2 hours before serving!