Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cake of the Week: Blackberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Blackberries taste like end-of-summer, fingers-and-mouth-stained, arms-scratched, shady-back-porch-barbeque wonderful

(Not my best pictures, but I promise it's a delicious cake!)
Clearly I have very distinct late summer memories of blackberries. When I was a kid, my mama, sisters, and I would head to a friends’ house in Kenwood, CA (we’ll call them the V’s – three kids in their family too).  Anyway, we’d wear old t-shirts and leggings (blackberry bushes + shorts = asking for trouble, and Mini-Mollie was staunchly opposed to jeans). From the V’s house we’d drive to a spot previously scoped out on one of Mrs. V’s runs, empty pots and pans rattling in our trunk.  

The moms then laid big plywood boards over the ditches, giving us access to the innermost berries, and warn us to stay on the boards. We then proceeded to pick as many blackberries as humanly possible for hours on end. By late afternoon we’d be tired and sticky, dark purple juice staining our fingertips and little red scratches covering our hands and forearms and any other unfortunately exposed body parts. We’d drive back to the V’s house – those previously empty containers completely overflowing with juicy blackberries balancing on the car seats, the floor, and our laps, destined to become jams, pies, scones, or frozen for later consumption. 

This particular blackberry memory I’m thinking of took place in the evening after such a day. I sat at the kid’s table on the V’s back porch, smashing fresh blackberries into my bowl of vanilla ice cream and thinking the deep purple vanilla-y soupy mess was the absolute best thing in the world

And so for LORT-Emily’s birthday this year I wanted to re-create that flavor, in cake form.
This cake recipe can be adapted using any berry (the original is strawberry, and I’ve made it with cherries in cupcake form). 

Blackberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 12-16 cupcakes, one normal-sized 9-inch round cake (which I cut in half to make a short0ish 2-layer cake). If you want a bigger 2-layer cake, double the recipe.
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour one 9-inch round pan. 
  2. Place blackberries in a small food processor or blender and process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and berry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl and just use a spoon to stir – people sometimes tell me they “can’t bake” because they don’t have a mixer…not true! Just use your muscles!), cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. Add about half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, until just blended.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk, as needed

  1. Beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar, adding milk as needed to reach a spreadable consistency.

  1. Once the cake is completely cool (this will be easiest if you refrigerate it for a bit), use a large serrated knife to cut it in half lengthwise to make two layers. 
  2. Frost the first layer, add the second on top, and cover it all with delicious cream cheese-y frosting!

And it's purple and pretty!

Printable recipe.