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

Blueberry-Almond Scones

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If you think of scones as dense, dry mounds of dough, then you haven’t had a good, fresh scone. The trick to making them moist, tender and flavorful is lots of butter and a healthy dosing of buttermilk. At least, that’s what this recipe uses. Also in this recipe: a mound of blueberries and almonds add welcome fruity and nutty flavor.

We could argue about what makes a scone a scone and maybe these are just weird, extra buttery muffins? But why spend our time arguing when we could be eating these scones?

The base of the recipe below comes from my mother, which comes from a tea shop in my hometown. If you’re ever in Robertson County, Tennessee (you never know), make sure you stop in at Burdett’s Tea Shop. The quiche is named after my mother and is delish.


Blueberry-Almond Scones

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Sift the above dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using knives or a pastry cutter until the butter is pea-sized.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh blueberries (see note for frozen)

Add the buttermilk, almond extract, and blueberries and mix with a spoon until a dough forms. Dust a counter with flour and add dough. Pat or roll the dough into a 1/2″ thick disc, using more flour as needed. Cut into eight wedges and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.

1/4 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Brush the tops with cream or buttermilk, sprinkle with sugar, and top with almonds, lightly pressing them in.

Bake at 425 degrees in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes. Scones are done when they are golden brown, tall, and brown but not burnt on the bottom.

Notes:
If you use frozen blueberries, toss them with a tablespoon of flour first to keep them from bleeding too much.
Eating one later? Reheat your scones in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

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Blueberry-Almond Scones

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

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Breakfast, amirite? I adapted a blueberry bar recipe for a site I sometimes write for, and since the article never went up I’ll share this recipe with you. Because it’s too good not to share.

These bars are basically a riff on blueberry oatmeal. They’re hearty and full of whole grains and fresh blueberry goodness, but they also travel well and feel more like a treat than a bowl of goopy oats. Don’t let the list of ingredients intimidate you: you’ll have most of it on hand anyway, and it’s all good stuff that’s worth having around. Make a pan of these, cut them up, and take them on the go all week long.

Pro tip: They’re super easy to make vegan (as noted in the recipe). And if you’re not vegan and are enjoying them at home, top them with a big dollop of Greek yogurt.

 

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Blueberry Oatmeal Bars
serves 12 to 24, depending on the size of the bar

1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ chopped toasted almonds
4 tablespoons butter or butter substitute, cut into pieces
⅓ cup salted almond butter
2 tablespoons milk or milk substitute
1 (11 oz) container fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom and two sides of a 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, ground flax, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and chopped almonds.
  3. Add the butter and work into the oat mixture using your hands until evenly distributed. Add the almond butter and milk and mix well with a spoon.
  4. Dump a little over half of the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom of the pan to form a solid bottom crust. Reserve the rest to top the bars.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add all but ½ cup of the blueberries, the lemon juice, and the honey. Roughly mash the blueberries and cook until boiling. Add the cornstarch and remaining blueberries, mix, and pull off the heat. Add the vanilla and mix.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly onto the oat crust. Sprinkle the reserved oat mixture on top and press in lightly with your hands.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan using the parchment paper. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, in the fridge for 4 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.
Blueberry Oatmeal Bars