Lemon Berry Cake

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I was tasked with making a dessert for roughly 25-30 people attending a baby shower last weekend. The mom-to-be and I decided on a lemony berry-y concoction, and this is what I came up with. It was a bit precarious to transport, but it looked nice, tasted good, and fed the right amount of people. Success!

The cake is a basic 1-2-3-4 cake with a dose of vanilla and lemon zest added. I baked mine in the three-tiered wedding-style configuration—if you do that, just keep an eye on the layers since they’ll bake at different rates. Start checking them at 20 minutes. The easier way is to cook them in three 9-inch pans like the recipe calls for, but I didn’t have three. You work with what you got. Note that you can make the lemon curd beforehand (it’ll keep in the fridge for 1 week).

The combo of the sweet cake, tart lemon curd, fresh berries, and fluffy whipped cream is just so good. Technically you could leave out the berries or you could leave out the curd. It’d still be good, just not quite as good. But I get it if you don’t want to prep four things.

 

1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 lemons, zested
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare your three 9″ pans by greasing and flouring well.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to mix well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and zest and mix well.

Add flour and milk alternately to mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 5-10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and cooling completely.

* Make your own self-rising flour if you don’t have any. 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Lemon Curd
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen/The Joy of Cooking

4 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small lemons, zested and juiced

Put all ingredients in a double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.


Berries

1 package fresh strawberries, washed and dried
1 small package raspberries, washed and drained
1 small package blueberries, washed and drained

Hull the strawberries and slice into 2-4 slices lengthwise, depending on their size. If your strawberries are not very sweet, you can toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of sugar.


Whipped Cream

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chill a large, clean mixing bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Add the cream and vanilla and whip using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand-held mixer. Add the sugar gradually, a tablespoon at a time. Whip until stiff peaks form.


How to Assemble:

Place one cooled cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 1/3 of the lemon curd in a thin layer, followed by 1/3 of the whipped cream and a single layer of berries. If you soaked your strawberries in sugar, be sure to drain them before using. Top with another cake layer and repeat twice. For the final layer, arrange the fruit in a pretty design. Or don’t! Whatever you want. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

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Lemon Berry Cake

Mini Muffins

mini muffins

I love breakfast pastries, and that includes a good muffin. I’m not talking about those vending machine cake rocks, I’m talking tender, lightly sweet, and satisfying muffins. I make them often and toast a couple for my breakfast during the week. In order to justify this, I make my muffins as healthy as possible–using white whole wheat flour, flax in lieu of egg, and no butter (that goes on later). I’ve tried several recipes over the years and have tweaked and altered until I was happy with them.

This year I’m trying not to eat as much sugar (and so far, epically failing), so I tried a new recipe that contains no refined sugar. I didn’t have fruit juice, so I used milk–the big problem here is most of the sweetness comes from the fruit juice. So I had to improvise, which meant I ended up using some raw sugar. Whoops.

Regardless, they ended up being tasty little muffins with low sugar content. If you’d like to go sugar free, I’d suggest trying the original recipe with fruit juice. I halved the recipe and it made 14 little mini muffins.

Whole Wheat, Low Sugar Mini Muffins
makes about 28 mini muffins

1½ cups white whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
2 tsp finely ground flax mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water*
3 T honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup milk or soy/almond milk
1/8 cup chia seeds
1 cup of chopped frozen strawberries and blueberries, mixed with 2 T raw sugar

Preheat to 400 degrees and prepare two mini muffin tins.

Prepare fruit and set aside. Mix together the dry ingredients (minus the flax).

Add the wet ingredients (including flax) and mix just until combined. Add berries and chia seeds and fold in. If the berries are soupy, toss them with a tablespoon or two of flour first.

Fill cups 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for about 12 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Before beginning recipe, mix 2 tsp finely ground flax with 2 T warm water in a small bowl and set in fridge to set up. Remove and stir just before using.

Mini Muffins