This lemon cake with berries is a total stunner, both in flavor and looks! Lemon layers are filled and frosted with the most decadent blueberry cream cheese frosting with a hint of citrus zest. A cake for the everyday home baker.
No matter what season it is, lemon and blueberries always manage to bring some sunshine into a kitchen, don't they?
Lemon cakes are a favorite all around. People rave and can't get enough of them. Are you in that category? I know I am, and make mine extra lemony, please.
Add blueberries, and it grows exponentially. The cake, I mean, though the hips might join at some point too.
Anyway, let's talk about this lemon layer cake with the most delectable blueberry cream cheese frosting.
About layer cakes
Layer cakes are the quintessential cakes, the ones we always want to master and that make a stunning presentation at a dessert table.
- Baking them: they can be baked in different cake pans, one for each layer. But sometimes we don't have enough pans or space in the oven, so we can also bake them in a single pan and cut them in 2 (like I did today) or 3 layers, depending on your type of cake.
- Batter: the batter is usually straightforward, involving the usual suspects - butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Of course, there are a million recipe variations for layer cakes, but in essence, they all go back to traditional butter cakes, genoise, and other sponge cakes.
- Crumb: the texture might be denser or lighter depending on your recipe and type of cake you're baking. If making a cake for a birthday or celebration (a small wedding, for instance), it is best to bake it a few days in advance before filling and frosting. Why? Because the crumb tightens so it's easier to fill and frost as it holds better.
- Storing and freezing: layer cakes can be kept for a few days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer. Always wrap them well, first in plastic and then in aluminum foil. Always label them with their name and date. In time, you'll find packages you didn't remember you stored, and it will be good to know what they are and when they were baked.
Making blueberry frosting
This is a traditional cream cheese frosting with added fresh blueberries (image above), a hint of lemon zest, and a tiny bit of vanilla extract.
I process everything because it's the best way to crush those blueberries and lemon zest. This ensures that the frosting will be as smooth as possible and you won't bite into a large piece of lemon or blueberry skin.
My recipe for this frosting is simple: Half the amount of butter than cream cheese and powdered sugar until you have the consistency you desire. For this cake, I like it firm so it holds well as a filling as well as a frosting. Find the whole recipe in the card near the end of this post.
Filling this cake
I opted for a traditional cream cheese frosting with blueberries and lemon.
It complements the lemon cake wonderfully and is super easy to make. The food processor does it all. How can we argue with a recipe that is easy, fast, and delicious?
The original idea was to add the blueberries to the cake batter, but this version is easier and keeps better since the whole blueberries would add extra moisture to the batter. This way you have the same flavors but with less fuss.
- I make the cake layer a day or two in advance and keep them wrapped in plastic in the fridge. So with the frosting.
- Make sure the frosting is cold but spreadable. I can't emphasize this enough. If it's still too firm to spread it will stick to the cake and crumbs will mix with the filling while spreading it.
Frosting the cake
- A good tip for frosting a layer cake when you don't have a turntable or lazy susan is to use a cake stand and put pieces of parchment paper underneath the edges of the cake (image above).
- When you frost the sides you don't smear the cake stand itself but the paper. When you're finished they can be easily taken from under the cake because they're on the edges. Lift the cake slightly with a spatula or knife and take out the pieces of paper.
- I like the idea of naked cakes - when the sides are not completely covered - because I'm a very rustic baker and concentrate more on finding and posting amazing recipes than decorating techniques.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, the needed equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: consider that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Baking the cake: my recommendation is to bake the cake layers 1 or 2 days in advance and keep them wrapped in plastic in the fridge. You can make them up to a month in advance and freeze them too, well wrapped and labeled.
- Frosting: it can be made up to a week in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Processing the ingredients together achieves the best consistency.
- Filling: make sure the cream cheese frosting is soft enough to spread easily. Otherwise, it will cling to the cake crumbs and make a mess. It should be cool but not cold and spread easily, like room t° butter. Fill it and pop the whole cake in the fridge to firm it up again before frosting it.
- Frosting: take the cake out from the fridge just when you are ready to frost it. A cold cake is easier to manage. You can make a naked cake (sort of what I made here), or completely frost the sides. The amount of frosting is enough.
- Storing: if the frosting is firm enough (that is, you added enough powdered sugar) the cake holds well at room t° for 2 days. Cover it with a cake dome if possible or lightly wrap it in plastic. This ensures it stays moist.
- Freezing: this cake can be frozen, well wrapped. Defrost it in the fridge first. Take into account that it will not come back to the exact state it was before being frozen. It will dry out slightly and have a tighter crumb. And don't freeze it twice if you already froze the layers before assembling the cake.
This lemon blueberry cake recipe covers all bases: easy, fresh and flavorful.
No matter what part of the world you're in, there are few cakes as cheerful and easy to devour as one with citrus and berries. It will make your day better if you're in spring or in the middle of a rather dreary, rainy fall (like me, bummer).
For you guys celebrating the 4th of July soon, a small wedding on a budget, or any other summer celebration, let me tell you this recipe is spot on.
It's a keeper. I know I say that a lot - I do share great cake recipes in my defense - but I've made this one several times, with blueberries, without, with a mix of citrus. It's always a winner. And who doesn't love a winning recipe?
Related recipes you might like:
Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe and loved it and if you had issues so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here. It's much appreciated.
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For the cake:
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup milk, at room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
- ½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cup fresh blueberries (divided)
- Zest of ½ lemon
- Drops of vanilla extract
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF /180ºC.
- Butter or spray a 9-inch cake pan with removable bottom (or 2 if making separate layers). Line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper if you want. Or dust the whole pan with fine breadcrumbs or flour, shaking off excess.
- In a large bowl beat butter while adding sugar gradually until creamy, 2-3 minutes.
- Add zest and eggs, one at a time, beating well each time to combine.
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt (I do it directly over the butter mix) and add it in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla in 2 parts.
- Mix well but don’t overbeat.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan(s), and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. It will be less if using 2 pans.
- Let cool 20 minutes on a wire rack and carefully unmold.
- Peel the paper (if using) and let cool completely before frosting. It is best to wrap and refrigerate it for 1 day before frosting.
For the frosting:
- In the bowl of a food processor, with the metal blade, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Add a cup of powdered sugar and process.
- Add ⅓ cup of the blueberries, the lemon zest, and vanilla, and process until smooth.
- Keep adding the sugar in half cups until you have a thick frosting. You might use more or less of the sugar in the recipe depending on how thick you want it and how much juice the blueberries release.
To assemble the cake:
- If the cake is domed (has a slight curve), cut the part that stands out so you have a flatter surface.
- Cut the cake in half.
- Put the bottom layer on a cake stand (see notes below) and frost with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting.
- Add the rest of the fresh blueberries on top of the frosting, pressing gently so they adhere slightly.
- Top with the remaining layer and press gently to level.
- Frost sides and top of the cake, using more on the top and leaving the sides with less frosting, sort of a naked cake.
- Decorate with blueberries, fresh edible flowers, elderberries, or whatever you like. A sprinkling of lemon zest works too.
- Eat at room temperature.
- Refrigerate leftovers, well covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
Baking the cake: my recommendation is to bake the cake layers 1 or 2 days in advance and keep them wrapped in plastic in the fridge. You can make them up to a month in advance and freeze them too, well wrapped and labeled.
Frosting: it can be made up to a week in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Processing the ingredients together achieves the best consistency. Take the cake out from the fridge just when you are ready to frost it. A cold cake is easier to manage. You can make a naked cake (sort of what I made here), or completely frost the sides. The amount of frosting is enough.
Filling: make sure the cream cheese frosting is soft enough to spread easily. Otherwise, it will cling to the cake crumbs and make a mess. It should be cool but not cold and spread easily, like room t° butter. Fill it and pop the whole cake in the fridge to firm it up again before frosting it.
Storing: if the frosting is firm enough (that is, you added enough powdered sugar) the cake holds well at room t° for 2 days. Cover it with a cake dome if possible or lightly wrap it in plastic. This ensures it stays moist.
Freezing: this cake can be frozen, well wrapped. Defrost it in the fridge first. Take into account that it will not come back to the exact state it was before being frozen. It will dry out slightly and have a tighter crumb. And don't freeze it twice if you already froze the layers before assembling the cake.
Variations: you can change the flavor by using different citrus and berries: orange or tangerine zest and blackberries; lime zest and strawberries; orange and blueberries; lemon and raspberries.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cooling time: 120 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 865
- Sugar: 96.2 g
- Sodium: 179.4 mg
- Fat: 34.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 131.7 g
- Fiber: 1.6 g
- Protein: 9.9 g
- Cholesterol: 179.6 mg
Keywords: Lemon blueberry cake