The lightest, fluffiest white cake with wild blueberry jam filling and a stunning blueberry ombré buttercream finish. This recipe, plus so much more, is from America's Test Kitchen's latest book, The Perfect Cake.
If you ask me what is my favorite cake book, I'd sheepishly recommend Layered (self promotion is hard!), but there are a few other really close contenders. The Cake Bible will always and forever be one of the best cake resources. My copy is highlighted and dog-earned (although I hate to deface such a classic book), because it so well loved and used over my entire cake career (so far). Thankfully I can still feel comfortable recommend both books since Rose's is more of an encyclopedia of goodness and mine is more anecdotal and full of stylized photos.
Then, The Perfect Cake swoops in with stunning photos of classic to contemporary cake recipes with an in-depth explanation of how and why each one is absolutely perfect. And unlike Layered, this book explores all types of cake - layer cakes, cupcakes, sheets cakes, and so much more. What I LOVE about America's Test Kitchen books is that they give such clear explanations for the ingredients chosen and methods used in each recipe and what the final product should feel, taste, and look like. This Blueberry Layer Cake is no exception.
The cake itself might just be the most fluffiest piece of heaven to ever enter my mouth. If you need a light and soft white cake, look no further. White cake has never been my favorite, personally, but I can certainly appreciate the sheer perfection of this recipe. I tend to favor butter or yellow cakes – I'll take the buttery, richer flavor, even if the cake is typically a bit denser than white cake. By using the reverse-creaming method, this cloud-like cake is ever so heavenly. Bland is such a negative word, but the texture is inimitable. I recommend going heavy on the blueberry jam (2/3 cup per layer, as instructed). Paired with an ombré of blueberry jam spiked cream cheese frosting, the flavours end up balancing each other out perfectly.
I took the liberty of using store-bought jam since blueberries aren't quite in season yet, but feel free to use whatever ever method you wish!
A big thank you to America's Test Kitchen for sending me a copy of their beautiful book!
Blueberry Layer Cake Recipe
from The Perfect Cake
For the white cake:
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and softened
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg whites, and vanilla. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir on low speed to just until combined. Increase the speed to medium and add in the softened butter - a few pieces at a time. Continue to mix until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in half of the milk mixture and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the remaining milk mixture. Mix on medium-low no longer than about 30 seconds or until incorporated. If the batter looks a little lumpy, resist the urge to over-mix. Instead, stop the mixer and give it a few stirs by hand.
Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans. Bakes for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Place the cake pans on a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and continue to cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.
For the frosting:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cram cheese, diced and softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons blueberry jam, strained
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on medium, add the cream cheese, a couple pieced at a time, and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and the strained jam. Mix until combined.
1 1/3 cup blueberry jam
1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoons blueberry jam, strained
gel food coloring, as needed
Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Spread about half of the blueberry jam on top with an offset spatula, leaving a small margin around the edges. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the remaining jam. Place the last layer of cake on top. Crumb coat the cake with the frosting and set in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes.
Divide the remaining frosting into three bowls. Stir 1 tablespoons of jam into one of the bowls. Stir 1 teaspoon of jam into a second bowl. Leave the third bowl as is. You should have three different shades of purple frosting. Stir in a touch of purple gel food coloring, as needed.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and place on a rotating cake stand. Place a large dollop of the lightest purple frosting on the top of the cake. Spread it out with an offset spatula until flat. A little bit of frosting may work its way over the top edge and onto the sides of the cake. Leave it as is.
Working with only a little bit of frosting at time, spread the darkest shade of purple around the bottom third of the cake (on the sides). Using the middle shade, spread the frosting around the middle third of the cake. Use any of the remaining frosting of the lightest shade to fill in the top third. At this point, the sides and top of the cake should be covered in an even layer of frosting. Using an icing smoother, gently press the long edge into the side of the cake. Keeping the icing smoother still, rotate the cake stand. Clean the smoother and repeat until the sides of the cake are relatively smooth (they don't need to be perfect).
For the wave effect, place the tip of a small offset spatula near the very bottom of the cake. As you rotate the cake stand, gradually bring the tip of the spatula up the side of the cake using a gentle wave motion. Stop once you reach the top.
To finish off the top of the cake, use the edge of an offset spatula to drag any excess frosting that was pushed over the top edge towards the center of the top of the cake. Be sure to clean your offset spatula in between. Finally, hold the tip of the offset spatula on the top of the cake, near the outer edge. Spin the rotating cake stand while gently pulling the spatula toward the center of the cake to create a spiral.
Serve the cake at room temperature. Store leftovers, covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator, for up to to 3 days.
For a more in-depth look at How to Ice a Cake, click here.