No artificial coloring or dye here, these colors and flavor are all natural. A soft tender layer cake that tastes of wild blueberries, filled with a blueberry compote and wrapped in a sweet, blueberry buttercream. Fresh blueberries and freeze dried berries team up to turn this blueberry layer cake into a purple wonder.
Fresh blueberry cake, a very blueberry cake
I went back and forth on this one. I had the cake recipe perfected and I thought, I bet they (they being the unknown people who come across my content and tell me they don’t like blue food lol) won’t like the color of the cake. Should I redo it? I could add food coloring and make it more purple… I could redo the recipe… find a way to omit the baking soda (which is the cause of the color of the cake, as it reacts with the blueberry puree).
Ugh, but the filling was already made and the buttercream was perfect. And I took a bite of the cake and I thought, god-damn, this is a good cake and it actually tastes like real blueberries! I didn’t want to change anything about the ingredients… and altogether I thought it all looked so beautiful as it was and didn’t want to add any artificial food coloring.
Why this Blueberry Layer Cake
A long time ago I told you about a blueberry ice cream which spurred a fascination with blueberries fully incorporated into baked goods. This cake was born of that latent obsession.
The thing about most blueberry cake recipes is that they aren’t blueberry cakes; they are lemon cakes with blueberries added to them. Which is fine, if you want fruit bits in your cake but I wanted a cake that would itself taste like blueberries, without bits of fruit! And I didn’t want lemon to overtake any part of my beloved berry flavor.
You are going to take a bite of this cake (after giving me a funny look about the color) and you’ll say, god damn this tastes like blueberries. We get this wonderful flavor by adding a blueberry reduction and blueberry powder (both easily made at home). Together they make for a really, really special cake.
Blueberry Buttercream: All-Natural Blueberry Buttercream
This is a really basic buttercream, the only thing we do is add some ‘blueberry powder’ to it (basically freeze dried blueberries processed and sifted to remove seeds). I’ve found that as the powder sits in the buttercream base it gets more and more potent in color and taste. So we’ll only add a little and we’ll do it ahead of time. It’s going to be great!
Blueberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
I didn’t do it here but I KNOW it would be wonderful: add about 4 oz softened cream cheese to the buttercream (and skip the milk). Even with the cream cheese this will be fine to sit overnight at cool room temperature (the amount of sugar in it will keep it from spoiling).
Do Ahead & How to make easy blueberry cake:
- Must do the night before: make the buttercream. This buttercream is made with freeze dried blueberries/blueberry powder and it gets more and more potent in flavor overnight. We’re only going to use a bit here, initially it will make the buttercream a light purple and have a hint of blueberry flavor. As it sits overnight, it gets more intense. When you stir it in the morning, you’ll see the color turn even more vibrant.
- Do a few hours ahead: make the filling. It’s pretty simple, just cook some fresh berries with sugar and lemon for a few minutes until they get a bit soft. This needs to chill fully before it goes between the cake layers. You can do it the night before along
FAQ for Blueberry Layer Cake
Where do I get freeze dried blueberries?
Check the nuts and dried fruit section of the grocery store
Can I skip the freeze dried blueberries?
Nope! We use quite a bit of it in the cake and it’s the reason the buttercream looks the way it does and tastes of blueberries. Without it you’ll miss out on a ton of flavor.
Can I use frozen blueberries to make blueberry layer cake?
I think that will be fine. I personally like the flavor of wild blueberries but you’ll need to use more of them (and there will be lots of skins to sieve out for the puree that goes into the cake.
Can I bake this in a different sized pan?
You could possibly do this in three 6” round cake pans for a taller cake. Or a 13×9” cake pan. Bake times will differ, check for doneness by pressing the top to see if it springs back and is firm (or with a cake tester).
Why should I use organic powdered sugar for the buttercream?
First, organic has a hint of the natural sugar molasses in it so the sugar is tastier. But more importantly, look for a sugar that is made with tapioca instead of cornstarch. It simply tastes better!
Blueberry Layer Cake Recipe
Blueberry Layer Cake
- 4 oz freeze dried blueberries processed into a powder and sifted to remove seeds.
- 1 cup butter softened
- 3 cups organic powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon blueberry powder*
- Heavy cream or milk as needed
- 1 heaping cup blueberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup reduced blueberry puree*
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup lowfat kefir or buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons blueberry powder
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
To make the buttercream (the night before):
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together the butter, salt, vanilla and blueberry powder. Add the powdered sugar (sift it in if it’s lumpy) and beat to combine, at least 3 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides as needed. Add milk or heavy cream to the mix until you have a smooth buttercream. Place it in an airtight container and leave it at cool room temperature.
To make the filling:
- In a small pot, cook over medium heat all the ingredients together for about 5 minutes, until the blueberries soften and a few of them burst. Place in a container in the fridge. It will thicken as it cools.
To make the cake:
- Using a blender or food processor, puree 1-2 cups of fresh blueberries. Sieve the mixture to remove seeds and then cook it in a pot over medium heat, until it’s reduced, thickened and much of the water has evaporated. You’ll need ½ cup for the cake. Let it cool fully before adding to the cake batter.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, cake flour, baking powder, soda and salt until the mixture is fully combined and sandy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing for each to be fully combined before adding another. Once all four are in, let the mixture run for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on, slowly pour in the blueberry reduction, blueberry powder, lemon juice and kefir. Once the batter is fully mixed, divide it between the two cake pans.
- Bake until top is firm when pressed or a cake tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
- Stir the buttercream really well with a rubber spatula, you’ll see the color change as you do. Put it into a large piping bag (this will help you create ‘walls’ so that the filling doesn’t leak).
- Once the cakes have cooled, use a bread knife to slice off the tops of the cake domes. Pipe a border of buttercream around the top of one of the cakes. On the top of the other cake, spread a thin layer of buttercream.
- Spread the filling inside the buttercream border and place the second cake face down. Pipe the rest of the buttercream around the cake and on the top and smooth it around with an offset spatula.
- Get ready, blueberry heaven is about to happen.