Monday, February 20, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake - Sky High

 I am going to have to buy a cookbook.  While searching around and looking on Pinterest for birthday cake ideas for the hubby, I finally landed on this delightful recipe.  A beautiful scratch cake with a tight crumb, dense but not heavy, and enough flavor to make you sit up and pay attention.  I will definitely make this again.  The cake comes from a book I have heard of before: Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes.  If all the recipes pack this much punch, it will be a worthwhile investment.  I love how the cake turned out.  Smooth, firm and still moist.  It's like wedding cake texture.  And because it packs such a lot into each mouthful, small pieces go a long way.  LOL, the hubby cut a huge piece for himself and then had second thoughts when it landed on his plate and he felt the actual weight of it.  With a box mix, that piece might have worked, but this was no air filled sponge.  He valiantly tried to finish it off, but regretfully had to throw in the towel about two thirds through.  He did say however, that it wasn't often that he actually felt bad about having to leave a piece of cake unfinished.  This is a man that sugars out very fast.

I absolutely adore the homemade jam filling for this thing!  I would make that just to use as jam.  It's tart and immensely flavorful.  I used about half a teaspoon of the fresh ginger and was very happy with the flavor.  (Be sure and make the jam before the cake so you can do the marbling.)  I'm running on about it, but there is such a marathon of wonderful sweet tart flavor going on here.  I had to laugh when hubby paused on observing that the buttercream was lemon.  He asked if that would work with the blueberry.  Yes dear, lemon and blueberries are a match made in heaven.  To which he heartily agreed after his first bite.  

The only change I would and did make to this cake was to "fortify" the french buttercream with a half batch of my favorite easy vanilla bean butter frosting (not a cooked buttercream).  Cooked buttercreams are super silky and rich but we personally like a little more texture to our frosting which is provided by a little powdered sugar.  Plus it holds up to warm temperatures better.

Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2 cups sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar)
2 tsp grated lemon zest 
1½ tsp lemon extract 
¼ tsp vanilla extract
7 egg whites 
3 cups cake flour 
4 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp salt 
1¼ cups milk (I used whole milk)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Butter the bottom and sides of three 8-Inch round cake pans.  (I only had thin, short 9" pans and the batter puffed up to the brim so make sure your 8" pans have tall sides.)  Line the bottom of each pan with parchment cut to fit, and butter the paper.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, lemon zest and extracts until light and fluffy.  Add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time.  Beat well between additions and scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk gently to blend.  Starting and ending with flour, and in a few alternating additions, mix the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.  Mix on medium-high speed for another minute to smooth and "fluff" the batter.
Reserve 1 cup of the batter in a small bowl.  Divide the rest of the batter among the 3 prepared pans, and smooth tops with a spatula.  Add 2½ tbsp of the lemon blueberry jam to the reserved batter and mix in.  Drizzle heaping teaspoons of the blueberry cake mixture over the batter in the pans.  Use a wooden skewer to swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in fully.  (Make sure the dollops of blueberry batter are spread evenly to ensure a nice marble, I kind of plopped most of mine toward the center.  Next time...)
Bake about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer stuck in the center comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  Peel off the paper and leave to cool completely.

Blueberry Lemon Jam - make this first!

3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
¾ cup sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1½ tsp grated lemon zest 
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (optional) (I used ½ tsp)

Puree the blueberries along with any thawed juices in a blender.  Strain through a coarse strainer to remove the skins.
In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, combine the puree with sugar, lemon juice, zest and ginger (if using). Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring often for about 20 minutes, or until the jam has thickened and are reduced to about 1 cup.
Check for proper thickness by placing a small amount on a cold saucer and allowing to chill.  If a clear path is made through the jam when a finger is dragged through, then it is ready.  Let the jam cool before using. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

Lemon Buttercream

1 cup sugar 
¼ cup water 
2 eggs 
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.  Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Continue to boil without stirring, washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush occasionally until the syrup reaches soft-ball stage, 238º F on a candy thermometer.  Immediately remove from heat.
In a stand mixer, beat the eggs briefly.  Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream at the side of the bowl to avoid hitting the beaters and splattering. When all the syrup has been added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy, light in color and cooled to body temperature. This can take from 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter a couple tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions.  As you’re adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break and curdle, then suddenly come together like whipped butter.  (Mine did that on the first tablespoon of the third stick.  Don't panic, it does come back together.)
Beat in the lemon juice and zest (if using), and the frosting is ready to use.  If you decide to make this ahead and chill, the frosting must come completely back to room temp in order to refluff with a mixer.  If it tries to separate, it is still too cold.

To assemble the cake place a layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate.  Spread half of the remaining lemon blueberry jam over the top.  (I spread a super thin layer of frosting on first to help keep the filling from soaking into the cake.)  Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining jam over it. 

Finally place the third layer on top and frost the top and sides with the lemon buttercream.  Decorate with fresh blueberries if desired and serve.  Cake can be refrigerated to stiffen up the frosting and served that way as well.

Makes one 8" (or 9") triple layered cake.

Inspired by the post at lick the bowl good

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