Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
The time had come: it was time to try fondant! I have been watching all the fabulous cake shows on the Food Network and TLC for years but I had never tried it myself. Once, I bought a small package with intentions to try it but never did get around to it! I am not sure if it was out of fear of the unknown or just laziness? I think partly I just didn’t quite know what to do with it! So finally after these many years of baking, I learned how to at the cake decorating class. I went a little wild with the colours and would maybe tone it down next time but it was fun! Generally I find that I need more colour than I would expect to get the colour I want so cake covering I added quite a bit only to find that the pale green that I was hoping for was instead an intense shade that made the cake look like a play-do creation! Oh well! I made the flowers all ahead of time (and I wanted them to be intensely coloured) so it was just a matter of putting it all together.
I have to confess, by the time I was done, I wasn’t sold on fondant cakes. I do like how perfectly smooth the cake can look and some of the fun things you can do with it, but I sort of like the more rustic look of piping icing. And there is something fun about piping that you just don’t get from using cutters for flowers. Maybe this also stems from the fact that I don’t really like making cut cookies – the rolling, the cutting, the re-rolling, more cutting, the sticking, the flour everywhere… and on and on. It gets kind of irritating by the end so fondant flowers seem to feel about the same (except you feel like you have shortening everywhere instead of flour!)
For the cake itself, I went with a recipe from one of my new favourite blogs. I say “new favourites” when in reality I have just recently actually started following people’s blogs more. I had used recipes from blogs before but I have never actually subscribed to any or frequently checked any one in particular. Anyways, my new favourite one for phenomenal cakes is Sweetapolita. She makes these amazing looking cakes with beautiful layers and takes gorgeous pictures of each of them. Although I am pretty sure my cakes taste as fantastic as hers, I need to learn a lot from her about taking pictures! Mostly I have figured out that I need some white kitchenware! And I need to pay attention to the backgrounds that I use to take the pictures. Although I took the pictures of the process at home (at night… with a light bulb burnt out), the final product was only photographed at work so there wasn’t too many options for backdrops!
Now onto the baking. As I said, the cake recipe is from Sweetapolita (slightly modified) and can be found here. It varies ever so slightly from a recipe found on Epicurious. I filled the cake with lemon curd. For the icing, I went with a Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream rather than my usual buttercream as often people find buttercream too sweet. I am going to say now that this was a delicious cake! Super moist and the lemon curd was amazing (although I already knew it would be!)
So to start: the ingredients. Normally I wouldn’t have whole milk but I bought some for baking purposes. Plus the full-fat sour cream and an organic lemon. I used to buy low fat only but have decided that if you are baking, what difference does it make if you buy low fat or high fat? It is DESSERT! May as well make it to its best!
For the Lemon Curd and the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I went to Martha… the recipes are adapted from her cupcake cookbook.
Here is how I did it – although you could definitely do it differently. I decided to make three 9″ layers and put blueberries in 2 of them while leaving the third just lemon. You could do 8″ pans and you could do just 2 layers as mine were pretty thin. With the cooled cakes, I then wrapped them tightly in Saran Wrap and put them in the freezer for awhile. I think this is supposed to make them so they aren’t as crumbly when you ice them. I left them too long though and so they were so cold that when I went to ice them, the buttercream went harder than I would have liked. Anyways, start with the bottom layer, then pipe a layer of buttercream around the outside to create a dam to hold the lemon curd in. Scoop in half the lemon curd. Top with your next layer and repeat the dam/lemon curd treatment. Top it off with your final layer and then ice the entire cake. From there you can decorate it however you wish! Like I said, I went with the fondant!
Lemon-Blueberry Layer Cake
- 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- ~1tsp lemon zest from one lemon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (and use parchment paper if your pans stick frequently) three 9″ round cake pans.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl.
- In another bowl, put your washed blueberries and then add 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture and stir to coat them. This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan I think!
- Stir together milk, sour cream, extracts and lemon zest. It doesn’t matter if it is perfectly mixed though.
- In a stand mixer (or with hand beaters), beat butter briefly and then add sugar. Beat a few minutes until pale yellow and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well combined.
- Mix in flour mixture alternating with milk mixture. Add the flour in 3 batches and the milk in 2 (so add flour, then milk, then flour, then milk, then end with flour). Mix until just combined.
- Gently fold in blueberries (I divided my batter into 3 and added the blueberries to only 2/3 as mentioned above but you can do it as you wish).
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick poked into the centre comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10-20 minutes and then remove from pans to cool completely.
- 2 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (or mix of fresh and bottled)
- 2 Tb unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
- Combine eggs, yolks, sugar & lemon juice in a bowl of a double boiler. Set over simmering water.
- Cook whisking constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Stir well between each addition.
- Cover with plastic wrap – pressing it directly against the surface to prevent a film from forming – and refrigerate several hours.
Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Note: Sweetapolita has some great tips for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 cup + 2 Tb sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 3/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
- In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, heat the sugar and egg whites. Whisk while heating until 140°F. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Whip the meringue by beating on low to start, until foamy, and then increasing the speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture is cooled completely (test by touching the outside of the metal bowl). This takes about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Beat between each addition until the butter is fully incorporated.
- Don’t worry if it looks kind of curdled during the process, keep beating as it will come together at the end.
- Beat in the extracts and lemon curd.
- To finish, switch to the paddle attachment and beat a few extra minutes to reduce air bubbles.