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.
I went back and forth on this one. I had the cake recipe perfected and I thought, I bet they (they being 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, , this 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 without any artificial food coloring.
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 the cake itself to taste like blueberries! And I didn’t want lemon to overtake it, because it is often quite often more obvious when mixed with a berry.
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.
Let’s start with the blueberry puree, first you’ll add the berries to a pot and begin cooking. It’ll take about 20 minutes to get the berries to fully soften and burst.
It isn’t just the softening that needs to happen but some of the water needs to evaporate too. Once all the berries have burst (you can help some of them along by pressing on them with the back of a spoon/spatula) keep cooking until the water level has visibly reduced.
Once that’s done you can strain it to remove the skins, or you can keep them in. Just make sure you have 1/2 cup of the puree. Let it cool while you make the cake batter.
Start by adding all the dry ingredients, including ground up freeze dried blueberries, to your stand mixer bowl.
We’re doing a reverse cream for this cake batter, so all the dry ingredients and the butter get beaten together until the mix is ‘sandy’
Once you can’t spot any more big butter bits, then you can start adding eggs. Do it one by one, allowing each to incorporate before adding another. When it’s fully ‘whipped’ you can add the blueberry puree, and the buttermilk.
The batter will be airy and light, a bit purple from the lemon juice too! Split it between two cake pans and bake.
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!
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).
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!
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