I'm not even sure how I found the cook book for this recipe, but I believe there was at one point a now defunct baking group (correct me if I'm wrong) making the cakes and blogging about the experience. I was in awe and ordered the book thinking I would be able to bake some of them as well. The book got delivered, and while I was looking through it I got more and more intimidated. Yes, I bake a lot, and you can give me anything from bundt cakes, to quick breads, pies, cookies, or anything else that has a homemade touch to it, I love it. But as soon as you throw in a triple layer cake, I get
a little quite nervous.
The cakes in this book are gorgeous! True master pieces that would be the center piece of any special occasion. Layering and frosting cakes, especially if over two layers don't necessarily go hand in hand for me. See, I have this thing called being left handed. Now, don't laugh, but for some reason I hold knifes and tools differently than right handed people, and by doing so, certain tasks aren't quite as easy or precise (and according to my husband, look really funny). It has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of formal training, NOTHING! ;o)
When I first received "Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes", today's recipe was actually one I bookmarked right away, only to store my book in the bookshelf never to be looked at again until a couple of weeks ago. Looking at my bookshelf for inspiration, the spine of this book caught my eye and I figured now was as good of a time as ever, plus considering I had everything I needed at home for this cake, I set out on a Friday to start. Yes, this cake took me 3 days to make. I'm sure it could have been done in a matter of hours, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself and get frustrated.
This cake has three components. A cake part, a blueberry preserves filling, and a lemon buttercream. I started by making the blueberry jam (as the recipe advises) since it is also used to swirl into the cake batter for a marble effect. The jam is cooked quickly, and has the most wonderful flavor by adding fresh ginger and lemon juice. The second day I went ahead and baked my three 8-inch layers. The batter was mixed together quickly, and since I already had the jam made, it was ready for the oven in no time. Cooking time was pretty much spot on, and after the cakes had cooled properly, I went ahead and wrapped them tightly to start assembling the cake first thing in the morning. On day three the first thing I had to make was the lemon butter cream. It is a Swiss meringue buttercream, meaning, you cook the sugar along with water to soft boil stage before adding it to egg whites (or in this cake whole eggs). The hot sugar syrup/egg mixture gets whipped in your stand mixer until it is cool enough to handle the butter. This can easily take 10-15 minutes. Butter is then incorporated little by little until the buttercream comes together, which is usually only during the last few additions of butter. Fresh lemon juice adds the final touch to this wonderful cream, which I might or might not have eaten by the spoon full.
Finally, the cake is assembled by layering the blueberry jam in between each cake layer. Once the cake is stacked and straight, you begin the frosting part. Here is where my dilemma came in. I know I'm not trained at all, and frosting a cake smoothly along with any kind of piping is a challenge at this point. I was not happy with my finished cake at all. I wasn't even sure if I should put it on my blog since the piping really is sloppy and there are so many wonderful bakers out there who could have done this with ease. But I figured, this is my blog, and even though it isn't the best looking cake, it certainly was incredibly tasty! The flavors worked wonderful together and I was proud after all that I overcame my fear and finished. I figured I can only get better from here, right?
Marbled Lemon-Blueberry Butter Cake
~makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake~
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
7 egg whites
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Lemon-Blueberry Preserves (recipe to follow), make this first
Lemon Buttercream Frosting (recipe to follow)
Fresh blueberries, for decoration
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixtures, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.
Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remainder equally among the 3 prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula. This gives you a "clean canvas" to work with. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the Lemon-Blueberry Preserves to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Using a skewer or paring knife, swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.
To assemble the cake, place a layer, flay side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread half of the Lemon-Blueberry Preserves over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining preserves over it. Finally, place the third layer on top of the second and frost the sides and top oft the cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.
Decorate with fresh blueberries.
Adapted from: Sky-High: Irresistible-Triple-Layer Cakes
~makes about 1 cup~
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Puree the blueberries with any juices they have exuded in a blender or food processor. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer or the medium disk of a food mill to remove the skins.
In a heavy medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juices, lemon zest, and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking, stirring often for 20 minutes, until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup. To check for proper thickness, place 1 to 2 teaspoons on a small china or glass plate and put it in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through the thickened puree: a clear path should remain. If it's not ready, cook 5 minutes longer and repeat the test. Let the preserves cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
~makes about 3 1/2 cups~
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.
In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters, or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you're adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter. Beat in the lemon juice, and the frosting is ready for use.