Today is Mom’s birthday. She would have been 85 years old today, may she rest in peace. Mom was born in Manila, across the International Date Line, so in the Philippines, yesterday was her birthday. I remember there was a time when Mom tried to convince Dad that she needed two birthday celebrations – one for her birthday in the Philippines, one for her birthday in America. Right now, it’s tomorrow morning there. Wrap your head around that one for a moment . . .
Of all the cakes I’ve baked over the years, this one is by far the prettiest. As cakes go, it’s not overly sweet. I love the presentation, and the blueberry filling is delicious. You would never guess that it isn’t a completely from scratch cake.
Sometimes we need to cheat a little – just a little. For this cake, I use a box mix for the base, then altered the directions just a little to make a richer, more butter cake. It’s a short cut to scratch cake that still gives a wonderful texture and moist finish.
This cake is actually a combination of several recipes that I had been dying to try all rolled into one. The filling is from one recipe, the topping from another, the “doctored” cake base and almond kissed frosting are mine.
The end result is a beautiful cake. It’s not too sweet, more along the lines of an adult desserts. Yet sweet enough for the little ones without too much of a sugar rush.
Before we get to baking, I want to give you a few pointer I learned the hard way.
First, the filling – the original recipe said to mash the blueberries with a fork. This turned out to be far too tedious, so I decided to “squish” them with my hands. Almost immediately into the squashing process, I realized it was a mistake. While the berries were mushing up nicely, my hands were becoming a beautiful shade of color me purple. A potato masher works well without staining your hands.
Next – the piping along the top of the finished cake. Don’t get too close to the edge or the pretty stars might just shift off the cake when you start spreading the berries on top.
Finally, you’ll want to make your cake in the morning so everything has time to set up nicely. Then keep it refrigerated until about 30 minutes before serving.
Hope you enjoy!
French Vanilla Cake with Blueberry Filling and Fresh Berry Basket
1 Box French Vanilla White Cake
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup Melted butter
1 Cup Water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat with paddle until pale, about 2 minutes.
Melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Add to eggs. With paddle running, slowly add vegetable oil and water until light and frothy.
Add cake mix, blend for 30 seconds on low, then 2 minutes on medium high.
Prepare 2 round cake pans with Wilton’s Cake Release. (I swear by the stuff!)
Divide batter between pans. Tap gently to release any air bubbles.
Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, check for doneness. If necessary, bake an additional 10 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. Cake should be “just done” since it will continue to cook in the pans after being removed from the oven.
Place cake while still in the pan onto cooling racks. Let cool 10 minutes.
Remove from pans, and allow to cool completely on racks, about 2 hours.
2 1/2-pint baskets blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Reduce heat to medium to maintain a rolling boil and continue to cook, stirring constantly until berries are reduced to about 3/4 cup. This should take about 15 minutes.
Pour mixture into a bowl and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Once cooled to the touch, mash berries with a potato masher. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent “skin” from forming on top. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Almond Buttercream Frosting:
1/4 Cup Solid Butter-Flavored Vegetable Shortening
3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1 teaspoon Almond extract (or to taste)
4 Cups sifted powdered Sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream (approximately)
Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add almond extract. Beat to blend.
Gradually add sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl between additions and after the last of the sugar has been added.
When all sugar has been mixed in, the frosting will appear to be dry. Add cream one tablespoon at a time and beat a medium speed until light and fluffy. You are looking for a consistency that is both easy to spread and can be used for piping. (Think mashed potatoes without the lumps). Keep frosting covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
TIP: The best way to sift powdered sugar is to use a strainer, a large bowl and a wooden spoon. Sift about 2 cups at a time through the strainer. Use the spoon to “stir” the sugar through the strainer and into the bowl. It makes quick work of sifting the sugar. This method can also be used for flour or baking cocoa.
Trim “dome” from remaining cake. Place on top, cut side down. Press down slightly. Let cake rest a few minutes for filling to settle.
Frost sides of cake, pressing frosting into join between cakes to fill in any gaps. Lightly frost top of cake.
Using a star tip, pipe border around top edge to create a “rim”. Pipe matching stars along base of cake. Let the frosted cake sit for about 30 minutes for the stars to firm up. Finish with the fresh fruit topping
Rinse berries, let drain well and pat dry if necessary. (It’s a good idea to let the berries drain while the frosted cake is firming up).
Heat jelly in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Arrange berries on top of cake, brush with glaze.
Refrigerate finished cake up to 6 hours. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
Note: While the recipe calls for Current Jelly, any “clear” jelly such as apple will do.