The Cake Is a Blur: Marbled Lemon-Blueberry Butter Cake

Our friends Jim and Colleen were kind enough to invite us over for a Memorial Day barbeque, and I used the opportunity to try out a recipe from my most recently-acquired cookbook, Sky High by Alisa Huntsman. I decided I wanted to get a copy of the book after I made Huntsman's Pistachio Petit-Four Cake for my cousin's birthday in April. But when I went online and tried to buy it, I discovered that I could only find used copies at outrageous prices. I watched prices for several weeks until I found an affordable copy (and to be honest, it's probably still the most I've ever spent on a used cookbook).

For an outdoor barbeque on a warm day, I wanted to go with something fruity, and I settled on a Marbled Lemon-Blueberry Butter Cake. It's comprised of three layers of lemon cake that are marbled with homemade lemon-blueberry preserves. The preserves are also spread between the layers, and the cake is frosted with lemon butterceam.

To make the preserves, you cook strained blueberry puree with sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and grated ginger until the mixture thickens. You can make the preserves in advance and keep them in the refrigerator. To make the cake, you cream together softened butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract; add egg whites; and alternately add in the dry ingredients (cake flour, baking powder, salt) and milk. You mix a small amount of batter with some blueberry preserves and divide the remaining batter between three 8-inch pans. You drizzle the batter-blueberry preserves mixture onto the plain cake batter and swirl them together before baking.
I used evenbake strips and my cake layers came nice out nice and flat, so I didn't bother leveling them before assembling the cake. The frosting is a French buttercream that you make my mixing hot sugar syrup into eggs, followed by butter and lemon juice. The frosting was silky and light, but firm enough to keep its shape.

When I sliced the cake, I was surprised at how strangely white it was. I'm sure this was because of the lack of yolks -- the cake recipe requires seven eggs, but uses the egg whites only. While the cake was lily white, the marbling was a bit of a mess. The cookbook photo (the same photo posted with the recipe on Leite's Culinaria) showed tidy, compact ripples of blueberry batter in the cakes. Mine turned out more like a tie-dye job. It looked odd, as if the cake was bruised. But the preserves made for a dramatic and beautiful cake filling between the layers.

The cake had a very fine texture and a soft crumb. The flavor of the cake and filling together reminded me immediately of a blueberry muffin. Which is to say that I found it slightly disappointing -- after all, it only takes about 5 minutes to mix a batch of blueberry muffins, and I expected something a little more refined for my efforts. But it was delicious, and there's a reason why blueberry muffins are so popular -- because people like the way they taste.

Plus, the frosting was incredibly good. This buttercream tasted a lot like lemon butter. While I tend not to like buttercreams that are too buttery, this one was so creamy and smooth that I loved it anyway. And the cake got a thumbs up from Jim, Colleen, and their kids. So even though I probably won't make this cake again (unless I'm in the mood for blueberry muffins in cake form and have a few hours to kill), I consider it a success.

Recipe: "Marbled Lemon-Blueberry Butter Cake" from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman, recipe available here at Leite's Culinaria.


Louise said…
At least it was tasty, but certainly a low Goodness-to-Work ratio on this one. I'd be a little gun shy of trying more recipes from the book.
Well, it was a lot of time to make and assemble the cake, but at least none of the steps was difficult. Given the money I spent on the cookbook, I'm definitely trying at least a few other recipes... I'm keeping my fingers crossed!